Charcoal - Pandora's Health

Health noir is here, so should you try activated charcoal?

The internet has reached peak unicorn. Now, things are going goth.

It’s time to say goodbye to unicorn food and usher in the latest, darkest trend. Bright colours and dizzying swirls are being replaced by fierce blacks and sombre greys, thanks to the addition of one magic ingredient. Activated charcoal.

But why? Well, it doesn’t just look good on Instagram and appeal to our inner goths. Activated charcoal has worked its way into the upper echelons of the health and wellbeing community, thanks to its supposed ability to detox the body.

Charcoal burger bun - Pandora's Health

What is activated charcoal?

Put simply, it’s charcoal (typically plain wood but you can now find other varieties like coconut) that’s been heated with gas to create pores, which makes it ultra absorbent.

It’s been traditionally used in medicine as an emergency treatment for poisoning. This is because it can absorb the poison that’s sitting in the stomach before it goes into the rest of the body.

Why is it popular now?

Well, if charcoal can be used in emergency medicine, why can’t it be used for everyday health and wellbeing?

If you look up #activatedcharcoal, you’ll see that there’s lots of different uses. Face masks promise cleansed skin, and Pinterest swears that it will whiten teeth. I’ve personally tried both of these uses and I can’t say that I experienced miraculous results. That being said, my skin did feel soft (but it tends to after most face masks) and my teeth were definitely cleaner thanks to the 5+ minutes of furious brushing.

But now, activated charcoal is making its way in through food and drink. There are numerous companies dedicated to charcoal lemonade now and recently, charcoal ice cream hit the scene at Little Damage in LA.

I never thought black ice cream would ever tempt me, but I’ll admit it does look good.

Charcoal ice cream - Pandora's HealthThe makers of these products promise a lot of health benefits too. It’s said to help reduce gas and bloating, cure hangovers and detox your body.

Does it actually work?

Hang on just a second before you reach for a black juice.

There’s no hard proof that activated charcoal actually cures hangovers or rids you of bloating. There’s been a…smattering of studies, but nothing conclusive to prove that it does or doesn’t work. You might also find that it not just toxins that get absorbed, but essential nutrients and fluids too, as there’s no way for activated charcoal to determine what’s good and what’s not. This means that the added charcoal in your green juice might be cancelling out some of that goodness.

So should I try it?

Frankly, if you’re tempted to give it a try, go for it. But you should know that it might not deliver on all it’s promises.

You should also know that it might give you a black tongue (#gothgoals), black stools and maybe some constipation if you take too much of it. Don’ say that I didn’t warn you.

At worst, my main concern is how much you might spend on a single bottle of charcoal lemonade.

Thanks for reading! sign up to pandora’s health to for even more advice, tips and tricks about for latest trends.


  1. I must admit, I felt a little sick at the fact people are willingly wanting to eat that crap! I gagged trying to brush my teeth with it and only noticed a mild difference.

    I might just stick to black food dye and if anyone is desperate to have black stools, take iron tablets they’re like pooping out midnight.


  2. Thank you for explaining this to me! I’ve been thinking about trying out some charcoal food, so thanks for the info and warning xx


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