Charcoal Water: The Latest Fad … Is it Healthy or Harmful?

Charcoal Water: The Latest Fad … Is it Healthy or Harmful?

Thursday, 06 April 2017 10:39

Heard about charcoal water yet? It’s one of the big health items – detox drinks - for 2017.

While at my wholefoods store recently I decided to buy some to see what it was like. I had not bothered to research it at this point, as I’ll try most things once anyway, and thought it would also make a nice surprise for my partner Luisa. (As an aside, I text said partner about the surprise knowing she likes the anticipatory excitement! I leave out the specifics and later discover she was thinking ‘hmmm, a yummy treat!’)

When I got home (feeling good & expecting to chalk some nice brownie credits up) and presented her ‘nice surprise’, she let out a big groan, rolled her eyes and said “Oh God. Great surprise! Last time someone told me to have a detox drink it basically stripped my guts and it took me weeks to recover. I’m not drinking that stuff!”
(* Note to self, just get flowers or a sweet treat next time!)

Anyway, after having ALL the charcoal water to myself!!! I thought it best to investigate whether it is in fact all it’s being promoted to be. The universe responded and perfectly for Mr.Lazy, the next morning Dr. Oz (who I think is great) did a whole segment on it.

Drinking charcoal … are you serious?

Turns out that charcoal is not what we generally think of when we hear the word charcoal. It’s ‘activated’ charcoal which certainly does have the effect of taking toxins out of the body. In fact, charcoal is used in hospitals (in much, much higher doses) when people have ingested poisons or high dose toxins to quickly remove them from the body.
The key point however, is that activated charcoal is completely ‘non-discriminatory’!

What does this mean? It means that charcoal water basically just cleanses the whole gut (intestinal tract) without distinguishing between good stuff (nutrients, helpful bacteria, medicines … assuming we call these good) and bad stuff (toxins or rubbish).

As such, by drinking it, you might certainly remove some toxins and detox to some degree, but youll also strip good, health-promoting things from your gut also. Not what we want. If you’re actually on medication of any kind (Dr. Oz had an example of a woman on beta blockers for high blood pressure) this will also be stripped from the gut thus eliminating the effect of the medicine.
It also is worth looking at the ingredients list of your charcoal water. If it’s like the one I bought and all the others I’ve seen, charcoal water is actually the last or second last ingredient on the list. This means the quantity of it is absolutely minimal and thus likely to have minimal effect anyway.

Suggestions to help

1. Save your money. Not only is charcoal water likely to do little in the way of detoxing, it can potentially have a negative impact on your health. Go buy some donuts instead! (I’m kidding!)

2. Take the advice in No. 1 even more seriously if you have an already sensitive gut or have anything like ulcerative colitis, IBS, Chron’s or similar.

3. Be even more wary (and I highly recommend you avoid it altogether) if you are on any important medication. E.g. viagra (sorry I’ll stop soon!)

4. If you really want to detox, instead of paying exorbitant prices for basically what’s nothing much more than glorified water, consider doing better alternatives. E.g. 

i) simply drink more plain water - the body will naturally detox and clean house if it simply has enough water and most people are perpetually under-hydrated/dried out!

ii) Add some lemon juice &/or a pinch of turmeric for additional effect

iii) have freshly pressed juices with real vegetables

iv) boil 1 litre of water and keep in a thermos. Pour small cups and let the water cool slightly (still nicely to mildly hot but not burn your mouth hot) and sip throughout the day.

v) do an intermittent fast. E.g. having a liquid only breakfast or dinner every now and then.

* Important Note: I’m not specifically having a go at charcoal water or those who manufacture or promote it. I have much the same view of all similar products out in the market today. Basically, that they’re just not worth the money and we are better to stick with real foods and not lose sight of the real reasons we have too many toxins and impurities in our system. I.e. overloaded and poorly functioning digestive systems due to things like eating too much processed, rubbishy food and having high stress lifestyles.

Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Keep things simple and stay close to Mother Nature’s and Ayurveda’s eternal recipes for good health.

Hope this was helpful and good health to you and your family.

Mark Bunn

Mark Bunn – is a leading natural health researcher specialising in Ayurvedic medicine, author of the three-time best-selling ‘Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health‘ and one of Australasia's most popular health and performance speakers.  Mark is also CEO of David Lynch Foundation Australia.