Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Charcoal detox may cure that hangover

Illustration / Peter Bromhead
Illustration / Peter Bromhead

Forget fatty food and fizzy drink - charcoal pills and super shakes featuring the black grit are the hit new hangover cure.

Traditionally used to treat poisons and drug overdoses, it seems a number of people have turned to charcoal as a way to detox or even as a way to get over a boozy weekend.

Some have reportedly taken activated charcoal, readily available in pill form at your local pharmacy or health store, before a night out in an effort to stave off a hangover.

It's supposed to work by binding to toxins in the digestive tract - effectively cleansing the body once it's expelled in stool form.

Other people are tucking into cleansing drinks featuring charcoal, such as The Unbakery and Little Bird Organics' Charcoal Lemonade Tonic.

The Unbakery and Little Bird Organics' Megan May said activated charcoal was great as a detox, for digestion issues, gas and bloating and had the potential to heal a hangover.

"Activated charcoal is highly absorbent and so it binds to poisons, heavy metals and chemicals, trapping them in its highly absorbent pores and flushing them from your body.

"If you're eating a heavy, greasy meal out or drinking on a Saturday night it's great to have some activated charcoal."

She said the charcoal could eliminate the toxins and the "sluggish, tired, moody" feeling associated with a hangover or junk food.

Naturopath and medical herbalist Rosanne Sullivan didn't recommend charcoal as her first line of treatment, but felt overall the substance proved more beneficial than not.

"When you detox it takes pressure off your liver and digestive tract. The charcoal binds to toxins strongly and helps move them out."

But not all were convinced. Nutrition Society of New Zealand dietician Sarah Hanrahan was sceptical about charcoal's efficacy.

"It's nothing magical," she said. "It just acts as a sponge - it's indiscriminate as to what it soaks up."

She acknowledged those drinking a charcoal-based drink might feel a little lighter and more hydrated, but maintained it was no magical cure.

"At best you get an expensive drink."

- NZ Herald

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