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  • Jane Wheeler

Blackened Ice Cream Cones

I was in Vancouver a week or so ago and one of my boys told me he had just eaten blackened waffles. Then I saw black ice cream cones at one of the coffee shops we visited. My boys informed me that this was the new “trend”, adding charcoal to make food look “black” and be "healthy". For me it did not look one bit appetizing.

It has been touted as the newest form of “detoxing”.

I know about “Activated Charcoal” from my health food days but had never seen it added to food. I have a bottle of capsules in my cupboard and use it for stomach ailments, toxins and even gas. It is added to soap or facial masks in the cosmetic industry and is used by Emergency rooms to treat poisoning and drug overdoses. It has been regarded as a poison antidote since the 1800’s. In water purification, water is often poured through charcoal to filter the impurities out. Apparently brushing your teeth with Activated Charcoal can help whiten them.

Having an ever inquiring mind, I decided to do a couple of experiments of my own.

Now firstly, charcoal no matter what kind, is “black” – stains everything, a wise thing to remember.

I made a little Activated Charcoal paste by opening 2 capsules and adding a bit of water and stirring it to make a paste.

I brushed my teeth with it. Note to self: it took quite a bit of scrubbing to get the black off my lips when I was done, perhaps good for Halloween but not so much a great fashion statement on other days.

I also put the paste all over my face, yes I really did and this was after the teething thing, because supposedly it is great for acne, skin conditions and other skin ailments (it can have a drying effect). Okay, so 4 scrubbings later I finally got all that black off my face. If the charcoal was good for the skin, by the 4th rubbing – most of that skin had been rubbed off anyways. So not sure I would recommend this one.

But this adding to food was a new idea to me.

I decided to do more research on this to back up what I thought I knew. Turns out, a lot of the ideas about Activated Charcoal have not been totally backed up by scientific data yet.

One of the things I do know for sure is that Activated Charcoal is not the old fashioned coal briquettes that we used to light for a BBQ.

Activated charcoal is a manmade product, it is not a natural occurring substance. Activated charcoal is made from coal, wood, coconut husks or other products and then it is treated at high heat. This process opens up the pores so that the coal will absorb more particles. When digested, activated charcoal has a negative charge that will attract and absorb positive molecules already in your digestive tract. Activated charcoal is not absorbed by your body it takes these molecules that stick to it out of your body and into the toilet in the form of very black poop. This is why it works for drug overdoses and poisonings.

Now that is part of the problem, it attracts the molecules in your digestive tract (not all over your body) so if you take vitamins or medications, Activated Charcoal can interfere with their absorption in your body. This can be very dangerous, plus any nutrition the food actually has is zeroed out by the charcoal.

Bottom line: Activated Charcoal is great to take in capsule form for stomach ailments, gas, toxins (but not all the time because you will lose valuable nutrients if you over do it).

Other than having black food, adding it to food is not doing yourself any favors unless you like the color, but then you could burn the food and get the same nice black color.

There is not enough Activated Charcoal in this new blackened food to detoxify your body.

In cosmetics – perhaps let the experts handle this one since the staining is pretty noticeable, just saying!

Life Lesson: applying (literally) the current trends to our lives can have adverse effects that can be momentary or last a very long time. We would be wise to proceed with caution no matter how great the trend can seem.

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