New charcoal health trend could make your birth control ineffective

Charcoal lattes are taking over Instagram but is there a downside to the black stuff? [Photo: Instagram/i_am_pavie]

Scooch over unicorn hot chocolate, there’s another wellness trend on the Insta-block and it’s a lot less colourful. The health-set are all about charcoal right now (think charcoal lattes, charcoal ice cream cones, charcoal lemonade…). But if you’re taking birth control you might want to think twice about hopping on the black stuff bandwagon.

Activated charcoal – the secret ingredient that gives the blacker than black colouring – is actually detoxifying so can help to remove toxins from the body while promoting better digestive health.

It’s also meant to be pretty good at whitening teeth and of course it looks pretty cool on your Instagram feed.


But experts are warning that there’s a downside to the health-set’s latest craze: It could make prescription medicines, including birth control, less effective. Yikes.

The reason activated charcoal has such a strong effect on medication such as birth control is because it is extremely absorbent, hence being given in hospitals to counteract overdoses.

“Activated charcoal is given to people who take too much medication because charcoal is so absorbent and can counteract an overdose,” gastroenterologist Patricia Raymond, M.D. explained to Women’s Health.

“But if you’re drinking it and you also are on any meds, even birth control pills, the charcoal is likely to absorb the drugs. So you risk having them become ineffective.”


In simple terms, if you eat a food containing activated charcoal in close proximity to taking a hormonal contraceptive, like the pill, it could seriously reduce their efficiency.

According to Eater, it’s recommended you wait at least two hours between chugging anything with activated charcoal in it and taking your prescription medicine.


But if you want to make sure your hormonal contraceptives aren’t affected at all, it might be best to abstain from the whole charcoal craze altogether.

Because a decrease in the effectiveness in your birth control is so not worth the Instagram likes.

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