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Is activated charcoal good for your health?

More companies are using activated charcoal as an ingredient in health and beauty products in the belief that it removes toxins from the body
Activated charcoal is latest health trend 01:36

Charcoal might look dirty, but a new trend claims it's a great cleanser for the body, inside and out.

Activated charcoal has been popular in face masks and other skin cleansers for the past few years. The buzz about how well it works to remove toxins from the skin had the juice world wondering what it could do for a person's insides.

On that hunch, companies like Juice Generation and some of its competitors have been using activated charcoal as an ingredient in their fruit and vegetable juices that claim to help with detox.

"They are extremely popular," Emily Parr, a spokesperson for Juice Generation told CBS News. "The activated charcoal line is our strongest launch in Juice Generation history."

Emergency rooms use activated charcoal in large amounts for drug overdose victims. Powdered charcoal is an excellent binder, which will attach to anything, including toxins, and prevent them from being absorbed.

"The idea was to bind to any toxins that were there any poisons so the person wouldn't absorb those toxins into their bloodstream," said CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook.

But, he adds, it could also prevent absorbing necessary nutrients too. "How do you know the activated charcoal isn't removing good stuff along with the toxins?"

It took some time for juice makers to figure out how to develop an activated charcoal product that wouldn't taste the way it looks -- like mud.

After some trial and error finding an amount that would be palatable, Juice Generation developed their "Activated" line using two teaspoons of powdered charcoal from charred coconut shells. "It sounds crazy right?" said Parr. "It's really good, actually"

LaPook cautions that there are no large scientific study showing that this trend of using activated charcoal in drinks or beauty products results in any measurable improvement in health.

Many diet plans that promote "detoxing" to help reboot the body have been popular in the last few years. Their recommendations range from avoiding sugar and flour or eating a high volume of fruit and vegetables to periods of consuming only juice.

Juice Generation says it plans to develop more products featuring the activated charcoal powder.

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