Consumer Reports: Activated charcoal

(WPEC, Consumer Reports)

Activated charcoal has been used in medicine for decades.

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

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

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

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

Other charcoal products have recently come on the market, like face washes, soaps and masks, but there's little published scientific evidence to suggest that activated charcoal works in these products.

However, Consumer Reports advises keeping charcoal out of your medicine cabinet.

Instead of doing a FAD detox, Consumer Reports recommends making sure your diet includes plenty of water and high-fiber foods.

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