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Consumer Reports looks at fad of 'activated charcoal'

Consumer Reports looks at fad of 'activated charcoal'

(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Activated charcoal is the latest trend in food, health and beauty products.

It's been 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.'

Activated charcoal is similar to the stuff you use when you barbecue, but it's been superheated 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, with 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.

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.

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