Trexdigital/ShutterstockWhether it’s avocado toast or rainbow bagels, foodies will always scramble—pun intended—for the latest food trend. We’ve seen a lot of bright and fun (read: unicorn-themed) fads pop up in the past. But lately these trends have taken a rather dark turn, thanks to everyone’s obsession with activated charcoal.
You can find the newest craze in mainstream foodie culture practically everywhere, from pizza crusts and ice cream to face masks and teeth-whitening products. To be honest, the Instagrams are to die for. Still, it’s left many skeptics wondering: can you actually eat charcoal, and is it safe? Well, yes and no.
It’s true that eating activated charcoal won’t kill you; in fact, it is perfectly safe to consume (in small doses). Some even say it has a few health perks, such as aiding digestion, reducing gas and bloating, and absorbing toxins from your body.
But unfortunately, everything is not as it seems when it comes to this black-hued food. Eater reports that activated charcoal can reduce the effectiveness of prescription medicines, including birth control pills. According to experts, activated charcoal’s absorbency works best for medical overdoses—not food staples.
“Activated charcoal is given to people who take too much medication because charcoal is so absorbent and can counteract an overdose,” gastroenterologist Patricia Raymond, MD told Women’s Health. “But if you’re drinking it and you also are on any meds, even birth control pills, the charcoal is likely to absorb the drugs. So you risk having them become ineffective.”
Yikes! To reduce your risk, Eater recommends waiting at least two hours between consuming activated charcoal and taking your prescription medicine. However, when it comes to those relying on hormonal contraceptives to prevent pregnancy, it’s probably safer to avoid the ingredient altogether. So before taking a bite of that Instagram-worthy charcoal pizza, you might want to think again. (And try one of these healthy pizza crust recipes, instead!)