Last Updated: June 1, 2016
This is our charcoal lemonade recipe, a now trendy health food drink concoction commonly made from water, lemon juice, a sweetener and, of course, activated charcoal powder.
If you're used to the idea of consuming green juice or green smoothies for breakfast, charcoal lemonade is also another alternative option to consider. It is especially helpful for detoxification regimens as it helps to promote the cleansing of toxins in the gastrointestinal tract.
What is activated charcoal exactly? Charcoal is not the same coal-like material used in your barbecue, but is a manufactured food-grade powder produced from burning a carbon source.
Quality forms of dietary charcoal on the market are made from either coconut shells or hardwood and are USP food-grade certified, making them effective and safe for human consumption.
Charcoal, in its non-active state, has been utilized throughout human history for its ability to adhere to and eliminate many ingested poisonous substances.
In the 1900's, charcoal "activation" was invented. This process significantly increases the molecular surface area, subsequently increasing the amount of toxic particles that it can bind to or, technically speaking, "adsorb" to.
Today activated charcoal is one of the most accepted methods of detoxification treatment employed in emergency trauma centers worldwide as an antidote to drug overdose or the ingestion of certain poisonous compounds. It is also used extensively in water and air purification systems to filter out certain pollutants and chemicals.
Its widespread use as a dietary supplement became particularly common in 2012, after a published study reported that fullerene C60, a non-active form of charcoal, was able to almost double the lifespan of rats tested over a several year period. (*)
Since this time, charcoal-based drinks in addition to dietary powders and capsules have become increasingly popular for therapeutic purposes as an intermittent adjunct to a health promoting diet as well as during a colon cleanse, fast or detox program.
The activated charcoal in your lemonade is not digested by the body but simply moves through the GI tract, attracting gases and certain positively charged compounds and removes them through stool defecation.
It is believed to be most effective at adsorbing contaminants in the large intestine, where toxins are known to accumulate.
Colon cleansing processes that eliminate stored toxic residues help to inhibit their systemic reabsorption, neutralizing the autointoxicating influence and health repercussions they can have on the body over time.
Periodic supplementation with daily morning doses of activated charcoal or lemonades, as the case may be, can be a good way to help chelate substances like heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, in addition to certain pesticides, chlorine as well as other volatile organic compounds and positively charged chemicals.
(For more specific information on charcoal's health benefits and scientific research, visit our activated charcoal page.)
Using charcoal powders in lemonades has in recent years become an increasingly popular way to consume this cleansing supplement.
While the inky black colored liquid that results might look a bit daunting to the palette, charcoal is pretty much a tasteless and odorless experience.
Fortunately, this means that lemonade recipes will end up with a delicious flavor much like that of traditional homemade lemonade, not like its crude petroleum-looking appearance.
Many juice bars and commercial charcoal beverage products are now also adding other ingredients like fresh fruit and vegetables juices, cleansing herbs and sometimes different detoxifying superfoods, like chlorella and zeolite for added benefits.
Creatively marketed as "dirty lemonade", black lemonade or "black magic elixir", many of the manufactured products or homemade recipes we have encountered, however, do not include a few key ingredients that we feel are essential to achieving the most effective detox drink.
Activated charcoal, due to its adsorptive qualities, can frequently cause intestinal dryness and constipation conditions. It is therefore not only important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, but adding a few other superfoods to keep things moving and increase its transit time is a very good idea.
When developing the best charcoal lemonade recipe, we naturally gravitated toward integrating mild laxatives and bulking superfoods like aloe vera gel and soaked chia seeds. These fibrous foods help the charcoal to efficiently move through the body and large intestine where it can be easily excreted.
We prefer to use fresh filleted aloe gel cut from the inside of the whole leaf, but you can also use pure bottled gels (not juices).
In addition, the sour tart taste of lemons helps to promote bowel
movements, while the spiciness of ginger acts to activate the process
of digestion and open up detoxification pathways. Raw honey is full of enzymes and gives it a fresh homemade lemonade flavor.
When consuming activated charcoal for the first time, it is best to start with with smaller doses and build up to larger amounts. In this charcoal lemonade recipe we therefore suggest between one teaspoon and one tablespoon, depending on your current level of AC intake.
This recipe makes a little over one quart or 32 ounces of lemonade which can be stored in the fridge for several days.
Pour into your favorite glass and drink with straw to avoid a "black mustache."
Do not be alarmed if consuming this charcoal lemonade recipe turns your stools a dark black color, this is a normal occurrence.
For therapeutic purposes is best to drink the lemonade at room temperature not as a cold beverage.
While consuming charcoal has not been found to interfere with nutrient absorption, it is generally taken 1 1/2 to 2 hours before meals or other nutritional supplementation.
It is best to seek the advice of your physician if you are taking prescribed medications as there are many drugs that AC can adhere to, reducing their potential effects.
Activated charcoal is a relatively inexpensive supplement, even quality products are very affordable and available in health food markets or from many online suppliers. Activated coconut-derived charcoals are viewed as more effective detoxification agents because of their greater surface area, but hardwood varieties can be more gentle for some individuals.
Bulk activated charcoal powder is considerably less than purchasing capsules or tablets.
Because the fine porous nature of charcoal can get a bit messy when opening capsules for drinks or lemonades, the powders are also generally easier to use.