There have been plenty of crazy detox trends over the years, but drinking charcoal might top the list.
While most of us equate charcoal with firing up the grill in the summer, it’s now making its ways into trendy detox drinks, and into the aisles of health food stores as charcoal tablets—and plenty of people are swearing by its benefits.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle site Goop recently called out charcoal lemonade as one of the “best juice cleanses” around. Beauty blogger Annie Atkinson of She’s In the Glow is a fan of charcoal juicing for the beauty benefits of it (like clear skin). And actress and blogger Shiva Rose swears by placing charcoal capsules into a glass of water to calm her stomach during long trips or after a big meal.
The ingredient that everyone is going gaga for in particular is activated charcoal. It’s made by burning a source of carbon (wood, debris, coconut shells) at a high temperature, which removes oxygen. Fans claim that activated charcoal essentially becomes a natural magnet for toxins in your digestive tract (things like pesticides, dioxins on fish from contaminated waters, and even neurotoxins from breathing mold).
Interestingly, activated charcoal is nothing new: your Brita water is filled with it, for instance, they also use it in ER rooms as a lifesaver for patients who have been exposed to toxins or who have overdosed on drugs. It’s also started to crop up in beauty products like charcoal masks and facial cleansers.
The long list of benefits consuming it supposedly has (although very little actual medical research has been done on it) includes: helping the body detox from processed food and environmental pollution, relieving digestive issues like gas and bloating, ridding your body of bad breath, body odor, and skin ailments, and its anti-aging properties. Plenty of people also swear by activated charcoal as a hangover cure.
Now that activated charcoal has turned into the detox ingredient du jour, it has started to crop up in drinks at trendy juice chains around the country. New York City Juice Generation launched a line of drinks in November that include charcoal—Activated Greens, Activated Lemonade, Activated Protein—which include ingredients like raw agave, celery, vanilla beans, and activated charcoal. The juices, which retail for $9.95 a pop, have quickly become one of the chain’s most popular items. L.A Juice meanwhile offers $6 Charcoal Shots which included activated charcoal, lemon, and alkaline water. At another popular L.A. juice chain, Juice Served Here, there is $8 Charcoal Lemonade that includes alkaline water, raw sugar cane juice, lemon, clay, and activated charcoal.
Now you’re probably wondering what this stuff tastes like. We tried Juice Generation’s Activated Protein drink and can report that it tastes a bit like an almond milkshake. You barely taste the charcoal in this, except the drink does have a bit of a chalky texture, enough to remind you that you are, in fact, drinking something with charcoal in it.
Are you drinking charcoal already or down to try it? Share your thoughts on this detox trend in the comments!