Is Activated Charcoal Safe?

Naturally Whiten Teeth

Today, you have probably heard about Activated Charcoal and it’s many and varied benefits.  But is it safe?  Will it damage the enamel on my teeth?

Today we need to use the power of the internet to learn ALL the good and bad topics before we make decisions.

Most Activated Carbon studies and posts are overwhelmingly positive, but let’s get both sides here.

So, let’s look at what some doctors say about Activated Carbon (another term for Activated Charcoal).

From Dr. Axe, Food is Medicine website:

Whitens Teeth

Have your teeth become stained from coffee, tea, wine or berries? Activated charcoal helps whiten teeth while promoting good oral health by changing the pH balance in the mouth, helping prevent cavities, bad breath and gum disease.

It works to whiten teeth by adsorbing plaque and microscopic tidbits that stain teeth. This activated charcoal use is cost-effective and an all-natural solution for a bright smile.

BE CAREFUL, it can (and will) stain grout and fabrics. Protect counters, floors and clothing before using.

To whiten your teeth naturally, wet a toothbrush and dip into powdered activated charcoal. Brush teeth as normal, paying special attention to areas showing the most staining. Sip a bit of water, swish through mouth thoroughly and spit. Rinse well, until spit is clear.

For best results, brush your teeth with activated charcoal two-three times per week.

Note: If you have crowns, caps or porcelain veneers, it’s possible that activated charcoal will stain them. In addition, if your teeth become sensitive, quit using it.

From WebMD:

Activated Charcoal is G.R.A.S. (Generally Regarded As Safe by The F.D.A.) and is used in most emergency rooms around the country today.

Side effects. When you take it by mouth, activated charcoal can cause:

Black stools, Black tongue, Vomiting or diarrhea, Constipation (as an aside, here’s an interesting article on using special Yoga poses to relieve constipation)

In more serious cases, it can cause gastrointestinal blockages.

Risks. Do not combine activated charcoal with drugs used for constipation (cathartics such as sorbitol or magnesium citrate). This can cause electrolyte imbalances and other problems.

Interactions. Activated charcoal may reduce or prevent the absorption of certain drugs. This may include drugs such as:

Acetaminophen, Digoxin, Theophylline, Tricyclic antidepressants

Do not use activated charcoal as a supplement if you take these medications.  Activated charcoal may also reduce absorption of certain nutrients. has some basic information on ingesting Activated Carbon as well:

The acronym PHAILS represents the following situations in which activated charcoal use is not helpful, requires caution, or is contraindicated: P–Pesticides, petroleum distillated, unprotected airway; H–Hydrocarbons, heavy metals, greater than 1 hour; A–Acids, alkali, alcohols, altered level of consciousness, aspiration risk; I–Iron, ileus, intestinal obstruction; L–Lithium, lack of gag reflex; S–Solvents, seizures.

British Medical Journal Lancet:

The British medical journal, Lancet, discusses the amazing ability of the human skin to allow transfer of liquids, gases, and even micro-particles through its permeable membrane and pores, by the application of a moist, activated charcoal poultice and compress which actually draw bacteria and poisons through the skin and into the poultice or compress! The article describes the use of activated charcoal compresses to speed the healing of wounds and eliminate their odors. But the activated charcoal poultices must be kept moist and warm for this healing process to occur.

Read More of This Article Here:

So, with this short post, you can make a more informed decision about why Activated Charcoal may help you.  Most research done on AC is based upon ingesting the powdered form, but some, like in the Lancet discuss activated charcoal uses topically.  However, there are many other posts about using AC for teeth whitening, skin cleaning, even hair shampoo!

If emergency doctors use it for internal poisoning and many users recommend the safe application on teeth, as an alternative to harsh chemicals or bleaches, it seems that Activated Charcoal wins in most cases.