Activated charcoal was once considered the universal antidote (1).
Nowadays, it continues to be promoted as a potent natural treatment.
It has a variety of proposed benefits, ranging from lowering cholesterol to whitening teeth and curing hangovers.
Activated charcoal is also a popular home remedy with multiple uses, though it's important to note that not all of these are supported by science.
Its most well-known home uses include:
Gas reduction: Some studies report that activated charcoal may help reduce gas production following a gas-producing meal. It may also help improve the odor of gas. However, not all studies observed this benefit (22, 23).Water filtration: Activated charcoal is a popular way to reduce heavy metal and fluoride content in water. However, it doesn't appear to be very effective at removing viruses, bacteria or hard water minerals (4, 24, 25).Tooth whitening: Using activated charcoal to brush your teeth is anecdotally said to whiten them. It's said to do so by absorbing plaque and other teeth-staining compounds. However, no studies could be found to support this claim.Hangover prevention: Activated charcoal is sometimes used as a hangover cure. While consuming it with alcohol may reduce blood alcohol levels, its effects on hangovers haven't been studied (26).Skin treatment: Applying this charcoal to the skin is touted as an effective treatment for acne and insect or snake bites. However, only anecdotal reports could be found on this topic.