Can You Drink Activated Charcoal While Breastfeeding? An OB-GYN Weighs In

Ad failed to load

If you've been on any form of social media lately, you may have noticed that taking activated charcoal is quite the trend, boasting many health benefits, including, but not limited to, detoxing your body. I've even seen claims it can help with low milk supply in nursing mamas. But can you drink activated charcoal while breastfeeding safely with no harm or side effects to your baby?

“Charcoal is thought to be safe to use during breastfeeding since it’s not excreted in human milk, nor is it absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract,” Dr. Sherry Ross, OB-GYN and Women's Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells Romper. The Mayo Clinic agreed, and noted it has not been reported to cause any problems in babies who are nursing. However, Ross warns, as a general rule, you would only want to use activated charcoal for a limited period of time for constipation.

“Activated charcoal is traditionally used for detoxifying the body of toxins, drugs, and poisonous substances. Not every claim needs scientific evidence to prove it is effective because we know medical studies are not an exact science. In the case of activated charcoal, there is no scientific evidence that it gets rid of toxins and helps with the digestive system,” Ross says.

Ad failed to load
Giphy

As far as helping with milk supply, there is no scientific evidence to support that activated charcoal improves lactation there either.

Bineesh Moyeed, Pharm.D, spoke to Romper about the benefits of activated charcoal and breastfeeding, and said, “There’s no data that suggests [ingesting activated charcoal] benefits breastfeeding in any way, though there is no harm in taking it. And while there is anecdotal evidence, there is no scientific evidence to back it up."

Ad failed to load

So how does activated charcoal work exactly? “When taking activated charcoal, it combines with a gas or activating agent to expand the surface area, flushing out toxins quickly and helping treat constipation,” Ross explains. As far as proper usage, The Mayo Clinic noted you should have the poison control center’s phone number ready – just in case. And you should also not take it with ice cream or chocolate syrup apparently, as “they may prevent the medicine from working properly.”

Since activated charcoal doesn’t seem to actually work in improving lactation, what are some other ways to help in that area? Ross says, “The healthiest ways to improve lactation include frequent feedings, pumping often, hydrating all day long, minimizing stress, optimizing your diet, and getting adequate rest.”

Giphy
Ad failed to load

Still feel like you’re having a low milk supply? It could be a hormonal issue, according to Baby Center. For other moms, it could be the baby just isn’t latching correctly. (Which happens — you’re not a failure of a mom)

While it’s perfectly safe to take activated charcoal while breastfeeding — since it stays in your gut and isn’t absorbed by anything else in your body — don’t feel like you have to do it to help with nursing. Activated charcoal doesn’t really do much for low milk supply, it just supposedly helps get rid of toxins in your system — though that also hasn’t been scientifically proven. If you do choose to use this method of detoxification, be careful, and make sure you follow the directions to a T. You don’t want to end up on the toilet all day, or unable to keep anything down, especially since that’s dehydrating. And isn’t hydration one of the things you need for a good milk supply anyway? So chug as much water as you can, get as much rest as you can, and maybe stick to drinking that lactation tea or eating some lactation cookies, which definitely taste better than charcoal.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Umm, Toys "R" Us Has A BOGO 50 Percent Off Deal So You Better Stock Up

After the holidays, you were probably hoping that your kid's massive toy collection would keep him entertained for a little while, at least. But that was wishful thinking, wasn't it? Because now that a couple of months have passed, all those must-hav…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

A Hot Mess Mom's Guide To Surviving Winter

As I sit here at my home office in Connecticut, it's cold. Damn cold. Winter is a rough season in New England and it's even worse when you're a parent and have to manage cooped up, restless children. It's even worse when you're a hot mess as it is, u…
By Jamie Kenney

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

11 Ways Your Pregnancy Will Be Different If You Have A Boy Vs A Girl

If you've been pregnant before, you might start comparing your previous pregnancies to that of your current pregnancy. A lot of things can change from pregnancy to pregnancy, based on a whole host of different factors (including how well you remember…
By Lauren Schumacker

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

8 Reasons I Let My Toddler Play Outside Unsupervised

I'm not a helicopter mom, but I'm not exactly a free-range parent either. I like to think of myself as safely ensconced somewhere in the middle. I insist on certain safety measures, like car seats and helmets. I prefer to keep my 2-year-old in my sig…
By Kimmie Fink

12 Moms Share How They Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of the roughest flu seasons in recent memory. And we’re not totally out of the woods, either. People around the country are still getting the flu, and, sadly, some of them are having to be hospitalized due to flu-re…
By Priscilla Blossom

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack