The NHS recommends taking charcoal tablets to absorb the stink of your gas during flatulence.
The latest fad in the beauty world is drinking fruit juice with added charcoal to get rid of the toxins in your body.
A Channel 4 documentary, ‘Superfoods: The Real Story’, explores the debate whether the charcoal craze is healthy, or in fact dangerous.
Some take the detoxer in pill, juice or coconut water. The product has been lauded by celebrity health buff Gwyneth Paltrow and nutritionist Amelia Freer.
This form of ‘activated charcoal’ is supposed to absorb bad substances from the body.
It is everyday charcoal which has been heated with a special gas, which causes it to develop ‘pores’ and increase its surface area.
When it has these ‘pores’, the charcoal is able to remove toxins more effectively and cleanse the body.
Emily Parr, a spokesperson for Juice Generation, said of the company’s charcoal drink:
“The idea was to bind to any toxins that were there, any poisons, so the person wouldn’t absorb those toxins into their bloodstream.”
The substance is also praised by beauty fans, as they believe it can help with de-bloating and keeping one’s teeth white.
‘Activated charcoal’ is even an NHS approved cure which can be used to ‘relieve the symptoms of indigestion, flatulence, and hyperacidity’.
The NHS recommends taking charcoal tablets or wearing clothes with charcoal pads to absorb the stink of your gas during flatulence.
But they maintain the quirky cure is not right for everyone, stressing ‘some people must never take it’. This is because it can stop other medicines from working properly within the patient’s body.
Some are also beginning to doubt these superfood abilities. Priya Twe, a dietician and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, said: “I have never seen any evidence that shows charcoal is good for detoxing.
“The human body is designed to detox naturally using the liver and kidneys, so why do we need to add something extra in?”
She also warned that charcoal could be dangerous if taken repeatedly as a detoxing agent:
“People need to be quite careful about what they are eating and how they are eating it. we only want to be putting things that we know are safe into our body.”
Gwynelth Paltrow has become a celebrity figure for health and superfood fads, but it seems that the ‘activated charcoal’ craze might be a step too far.
The judgement on whether charcoal, possibly the strangest superfood cure yet, is beneficial or dangerous, will have to wait until more evidence is gathered.