Consumer Reports: Activated charcoal health, beauty trend

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Curious about the recent trend in food, health and beauty? It's called activated charcoal. (WLS)

Curious about the recent trend in food, health and beauty? It's called activated charcoal. It's used in emergency rooms as an antidote for some drug overdoses and poisons, but now it can be found in soaps, beauty face masks, supplements, and more as a simple way to 'detox.' Consumer Reports looks into the claims.

Activated charcoal. It's similar to the stuff you use when you barbecue, but it's been super-heated into an extremely porous substance. And it's been used in medicine for decades.

Activated charcoal is sometimes used as an antidote for overdoses of some medicines. The porous charcoal traps certain toxins, preventing the body from absorbing them," said Julia Calderone of Consumer Reports.

Some activated charcoal supplements claim to remove toxins in a similar way but they're not necessary because the body detoxes itself.

The body already has organs such as the kidneys and liver to filter out impurities," Calderone said.

And though activated charcoal in small doses has no known significant risks, as Consumer Reports has previously reported supplements are regulated much more loosely than FDA-approved drugs, and they don't necessarily contain what's advertised on the label.

And recently other consumer charcoal products have come on the market, face washes, soaps and masks. But there's little published scientific evidence to suggest that activated charcoal helps these products work better than products without.

Consumer Reports advice: Keep charcoal in the grill, not the medicine cabinet.

Consumer Reports says there's no reason to do a fad detox. Instead, make sure your diet includes plenty of water and eat a high-fiber foods.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit

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