Charcoal: The latest cleansing diet craze

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As juicing and detox diets have increased in popularity recently, a new twist on the health craze has emerged.

Charcoal is the latest cleansing trend and has appeared in products claiming numerous health benefits.

"The impact that charcoal has had on my health has been a better digestive system, so I don't have the gassiness after I eat," Samantha Gregory said.

Companies like Juice Generation believe activated charcoal has many benefits and offer it in juice form since many people aren't big on the taste.

"From active people exercising, to people who want to lose a few pounds, actually a lot of people who have a hangover come in and want to have a juice with activated charcoal to sort of get their groove back after drinking too much," explained Eric Helms, the creator of Juice Generation. "It is by far our most successful launch. We've been in business about 15 years and have never had this kind of demand for a product."

While those in the cleansing community rave about charcoal, medical professionals are issuing warnings.

"Activated charcoal is not part of a normal diet. It is not something that is supposed to be consumed on a daily basis and I don't recommend it as a supplement," said Angela Lemond, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Traditionally the medical community uses activated charcoal to prevent damage from an accidental overdose, as it helps keeps the body from absorbing the drugs.

Lemond said for that very reason it's important for anyone taking prescription medication on a daily basis to be careful using activated charcoal.

"Activated charcoal can bind a lot of things you don't want to have bound, like vitamins and minerals. It can keep your body from absorbing those important nutrients," Lemond said. "If somebody is on a medication that is helping stabilize their health, it can keep those things from being absorbed, so you need to be careful about it."
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