Is activated charcoal the new coconut oil? I'm not sure, but I've certainly been hearing a lot about it lately. According to buzz both old and new, activated charcoal may ease a variety of stomach issues — and if you're pregnant, you're probably no stranger to digestive distress. You're also extra cautious about anything that might make its way into your bloodstream, from cosmetics and supplements to trendy home remedies. So can you take activated charcoal when you're pregnant?
Romper corresponded with Suzanne Munson, MS, a natural health expert for Fairhaven Health, who explained that while activated charcoal is "presumed safe by the FDA," the product hasn't been studied in pregnant women, so risks remain unknown.
Pregnancy hormones leave you vulnerable to a host of unpleasant digestive problems, including morning sickness, constipation, heart burn, and acid reflux, Munson notes. To treat these common pregnancy plagues, she recommends foregoing the charcoal and eating "small, frequent meals" with plenty of fiber instead. Additionally, proper hydration and exercise will help your digestive system keep on keeping on (even as your uterus attempts to crush it with its weight). Munson recommends chewable supplement PregEase ($20), made with lemon balm, ginger, and licorice to ease super fun morning sickness and heartburn.
Activated charcoal isn't the stuff you use to grill veggie burgers on summer nights, although it shares the same humble roots. When exposed to high heat, regular charcoal becomes activated charcoal, a fine black powder used in hospitals to absorb poisons, as reported in Consumer Reports. Lately, the substance has been making its way into medicine cabinets everywhere, and the hype doesn't end at stomach issues. Claims that activated charcoal whitens teeth and improves acne have transformed this emergency room treatment into the new, must-have cosmetic.
Without a lot of research, you probably shouldn't consume charcoal supplements or liquids during pregnancy until you talk to your healthcare provider, but can you use it as a face mask? What about using charcoal to whiten your teeth?
If pregnancy acne is making your life rough, you're in luck, according to Nine Naturals. Activated charcoal may indeed clear up skin, with little risk of exposure for your baby. As always, however, it's a good idea to get your doctor's opinion before trying anything new.
Activated charcoal for teeth whitening is another matter altogether. Despite the explosion of photos on Instagram and Twitter proclaiming this home remedy's awesomeness, you might not want to jump on this bandwagon quite yet. For one thing, it hasn't been proven effective, according to an article in the Daily Beast, and for another, activated charcoal might scrub off enamel and even damage your gums. So why risk it during pregnancy? After all, an unplanned trip to the dentist is the last thing you need.
Activated charcoal may be coating the internet with super-absorbent properties, but if you're pregnant, it's generally best to err on the side of caution. Though experts don't specifically say you should avoid ingesting activated charcoal, it hasn't been approved for pregnancy. But remember, there's no need for FOMO: you can still try a trendy charcoal facial when spa night comes around.