6 Unexpected Health Benefits of Activated Charcoal

Originally published in Brit+Co on August 11, 2017.

Superfoods might not actually be quite so super, but there’s no doubt that certain food, drinks, and supplements can help you stay healthy. Easy go-to’s include smoothie additionsthat’ll power up your energy and grains that’ll boost your metabolism, while more dedicated eating plans like Ayurveda are designed for specific body types and incorporate lesser-known resources like activated charcoal, which is carbon processed to increase adsorption (the adhesion of molecules to a surface). In other words, activated charcoal can help draw out toxins from your food, water, and body. We got in touch with Sahara Ketabi, a mind-body transformation and Ayurveda expert who gave us six things you can count on charcoal to do, plus three easy ways to use it at home.


  1. Banish bloat. Ayurveda, Ketabi explains, is the world’s oldest health system. “It’s all about healing your digestive system first, as that’s really your foundation for well being.” She tells us that when she feels bloated, she mixes a ¼ teaspoon activated charcoal supplement with Ayurvedic-healing spices (such as fennel seeds, cumin, and ginger) to soothe her belly. “It works so well that I feel confident to wear cute outfits again,” she gushes.
  2. Clear up your skin. Have a pesky pimple? Ketabi swears by using activated charcoal to clear it up. “Activated charcoal goes deep into your pores to pull out impurities from pollution, makeup, and bacteria,” she notes. (Keep reading for the deets on her fave homemade activated charcoal mask, which she swears is ideal for anyone with an oily complexion.)
  3. Remedy a horrible hangover.Is it just us or are the mornings after a fun night out worse than they used to be? Age might not be anything but a number, but our bods definitely find it harder to deal with drinking as we get older. “Activated charcoal aids your body in the natural detoxification process to reduce the toxins in your system post-night-out so you can get back to your yoga class in the morning,” Ketabi promises. To strike the right balance, she says to drink extra water to help the effect of the activated charcoal.
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