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Do not consume activated carbon foods while taking medication
Food that contains activated carbon is repeatedly touted as health-promoting. But experts recommend avoiding black foods. Especially people who take medication should better avoid it.
Black food is the trend
Burger rolls, pizzas, pasta or even water - black foods are in trend, especially among young people. Additives such as activated carbon, a substance that is advertised as natural and health-promoting, provide the coloring. It is supposed to purify the body, detoxify skin and hair and bleach the teeth. Students at Biberach University of Applied Sciences now wanted to know more precisely what black food actually does in the human body, for example in connection with taking medication.
Effective for diarrheal diseases
Activated charcoal is created when part of carbon-containing raw materials such as wood, peat or the husks of coconuts are burned.
In food it is approved as an additive biochar or E 153.
The special thing about activated carbon is that it binds substances to itself. Because of this property, coal tablets are an effective remedy for diarrhea and poisoning.
The coal adsorbs pollutants, viruses, bacteria and their toxins. The body excretes the pollutants bound to the activated carbon through the intestine.
Vitamins and minerals are no longer available
Because of this adsorbing effect, for example, black smoothies with a detox effect are advertised.
However, there is no scientific evidence that activated carbon in food has a detoxifying effect.
On the contrary: According to consumer advocates, activated carbon is not without problems in food.
"It not only binds toxins but also valuable vitamins, minerals or secondary plant substances, which are then no longer available to the body," said Gisela Horlemann, nutrition expert at the Consumer Service Bavaria in the KDFB e.V. (VSB) in an older message.
In addition, drugs can be impaired. A team of students from the Faculty of Biotechnology at Biberach University of Applied Sciences also found this out.
Clear experiment results
As explained in a statement from the university, the students examined what happens when young women swallow a contraceptive like the pill along with the black trend drink.
Because activated carbon has a very large, porous surface and is used in acute poisoning to bind the toxins.
Isabel Fouquet, Patrick Kopp, Iman Shrimo and Ramona Walder asked themselves the question: Does this mechanism also apply to the mini pill and the material desogestrel it contains? So does activated carbon affect the contraceptive effect?
According to the communication, the results of her experiment are clear - and "absolutely relevant to the public", as the supervising professor Dr. Katharina Zimmermann says.
The scientist advises: "Stay away from foods containing activated carbon if medication is taken at the same time."
No longer effective
The four students initially researched that at least 80 percent of the active ingredient must be taken in for a preventive effect.
The young researchers then examined whether the pill can still be detected after taking small amounts of black water and whether there is a sufficient amount of desogestrel available for the contraceptive effect.
According to the information in the test series, a commercially available tablet containing 75 micrograms of desogestrel was dissolved in 50 milliliters of black water and the amount of free active ingredient that was not bound to activated carbon was determined.
As a counter-test, the same test was carried out with pure water. It turned out that if the drug is dissolved in pure water, the active ingredient is very well detectable.
However, no free active substance could be detected in the samples which were dissolved in water mixed with activated carbon: the remaining amount was below the detection limit and thus of course also below the amount necessary for the preventive effect.
Serious problems uncovered
The biotechnologists had expected that less active ingredient would be detectable, after all they know the effect of activated carbon.
"However, we did not expect that desogestrel could no longer be detected," says Isabel Fouquet.
"With their experiment, the students uncovered a very serious problem that seems to play a role for all medications taken at the same time, possibly even for vitamins," says Professor Zimmermann.
Use in medicine
Activated carbon is used in medicine for poisoning and gastrointestinal problems, which is why it is advertised in other contexts as "detoxifying". The problem with this is that activated carbon is not substance-specific. “Not only are toxins bound, but also other important ingredients in the food, such as vitamins and minerals,” warns Tabea Dorendorf, food department of the Saxony-Anhalt consumer center. (ad)