Verify: What health benefits does activated charcoal have?

Rob Harris verifies the health claims behind activated charcoal (11-8-17)

SPOKANE, Wash.— It’s one of the latest health fads: activated charcoal supplements and drinks.

Users claimed it has some super power benefits like curing a hangover, clearing skin, improving digestion and more.

To verify these claims KREM 2 spoke with a chemistry professor at Gonzaga University and used research features by the National Institutes of Health.

One of the most known claims is that activated charcoal can remove poisons and other agents from the body.  KREM 2 verified that claim was true.

Research showed that medical professionals have been using activated charcoal on poisoned patients since the 1800’s.

Many viewers also said they used activated charcoal on things like spider bites and poison ivy rashes to find relief.

Gonzaga University chemistry professor, Joannie Smieja explained that the reason charcoal works for things like that is because of the chemical properties of carbon.

“Activated charcoal is a very unique substance in that it has a lot of surface area. So, the activated charcoal particles, and the way it’s made, has many channels in it,” explained Smieja.

While activated charcoal works to cleanse poisons and toxins, the next question is “ should activated charcoal supplements be used by normal people on a regular basis.

Smieja said there wasn’t much research available for that yet, but the same general principle would apply.

”Our body is not able to break it down, and so its similar to sand. If you eat some dirt, the dirt will pass on through your digestive system, and so will the particles of activated charcoal,” said Smieja.  

 Research said there are reasons to avoid activated charcoal though. One of those reasons is that if you are taking medications and also using activated charcoal, the medicine will just pass through the digestive system without getting absorbed and therefore it will not have the intended effects, according to research.

© 2017 KREM-TV


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