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Activated Charcoal May Counteract Birth Control

Editor
Think twice before ordering that jet-black soft serve

Your gray ice cream looks so trendy on Instagram, sure — but if you want your birth control to work you probably shouldn’t eat it.

Get out the iPhone camera, stand on the chair for the overhead view, and take your ice cream outside for lighting all you want — none of those things have the potential to mess with your contraception.

But eating it does.

A petition has recently been circulated advocating the abolition of charcoal-infused foods and beverages without a warning label. As of July 14, the activists are less than 100 signatures away from their 20,000 goal.

The authors of the petition believe that the substance could be potentially harmful to ingest while taking birth control. Harmful in the sense that it could make your birth control ineffective.

Like cigarette warnings and allergy labels, the charcoal warning would be printed on the menu or packaging of food and drinks. Trendy ice cream shops, juiceries, and other specialty food stores probably don’t think a dangerous looking warning label fits their millennial-catching aura, but the requests for the labels are justified.

It’s true that ingesting charcoal affects the impact of pills and other medication. Charcoal is like a sponge — it absorbs whatever is contained in the substance surrounding it. When you eat charcoal, it starts absorbing things in your stomach.

So if you’re taking any sort of medication, vitamins, supplements, or birth control, the charcoal soaks it all right up. In other words, your intestines don’t absorb any of the beneficial compounds. They lost the race — the charcoal you ate got to it first.

Of course, this isn’t horrible if the only other thing you’re swallowing is a gummy vitamin. But add your birth control to the mix and you’re on thin ice.

Gynecologist Alyssa Dweck rebukes this hasty claim. “If you're having charcoal ice cream twice a day or every day, then yes, you should not rely on your birth control to be the most effective — but that would be a lot.”

Ice cream every day is a lot, yes. But a green juice? A charcoal supplement? A latte? Daily intake of those more healthful products isn’t unheard of. Some sources even recommend a “charcoal detox”, which involves purposefully eating charcoal-infused products every day.

Look, it might not be the norm — but all we’re saying is that a warning label couldn’t hurt.

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