If you haven’t heard, activated charcoal is the latest craze to sweep the nation. OK, maybe not sweep, but the ingredient is popping up everywhere, from ice cream and pressed juice to face masks and toothpaste. Celebrities like Shailene Woodley and Gwyneth Paltrow have endorsed activated charcoal, which has been used in Ancient Egypt and Chinese medicine for millennia. But while the appropriated ingredient has healing properties, activated charcoal is not entirely safe. One issue concerns its interaction with prescription drugs. So why is activated charcoal bad for people taking medications? Turns out, it may cause drugs to become ineffective.
While its a favorite among wellness enthusiasts, activated charcoal has traditionally been used to treat drug overdose or poisoning, according to WebMD. That’s because the adsorbent substance, also known as activated carbon, can bind to toxins and allow them to be flushed out of — instead of absorbed by — the body along with the charcoal itself. One study, published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, even found that activated charcoal can cut drug absorption by more than half in an acetaminophen overdose.
But, as Eater pointed out, activated charcoal is not so great at differentiating between bad molecules and good nutrients. That means calcium and potassium could be soaked up alongside those toxins.
Specifically, Patricia Raymond, M.D., a gastroenterologist from Virginia Beach, told Women’s Health,
According to Eater, Raymond’s warning applies to more than 200 medications. Some of those drugs include birth control, asthma treatments like albuterol, and over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen. Since…