Activated charcoal pills are one of the latest trends in hangover prevention, but they aren’t a miracle cure for hangovers. In fact, this supplement does not help your body process the alcohol you may have consumed or will consume.
Which is to say that no, activated charcoal pills are not effective hangover prevention or cure. I’ll tell you why below.
Activated charcoal is similar to the charcoal you would use in a grill to cook hamburgers or hotdogs. This is because it’s almost pure carbon, but activated charcoal has been processed to provide it with many tiny pores. These pores increase the surface area of the charcoal, making it ideal for adsorption or adhering to substances.
Activated charcoal tablets have just enough science backing them up to lend some credibility but they still manage to be completely ineffective. Even though the concept of activated charcoal pills for hangover prevention and cures sounds promising, I can tell you why they’re pretty useless.
During my years of medical training and practice treating hangovers, I have seen hundreds of tricks to prevent and eliminate hangovers. Some of these remedies are effective and science-based – like IV infusion, while others may as well contain eye of newt and lizard tails for as much good as they do.
Activated charcoal does have legitimate medical uses. Emergency physicians administer it often to treat cases of accidental poisoning or overdoses. The charcoal will bind to the poison or drugs, which prevents them from entering the bloodstream and renders them harmless until they pass out of the digestive tract, but that doesn’t mean they’ll prevent your impending hangover.
Alcohol is one of the very few substances that is absorbed in the stomach rather than further on in the small intestine. In other words, alcohol begins to enter the bloodstream barely an hour after ingestion. So, the window of time for activated charcoal to adsorb alcohol would be quite small.
Activated charcoal tablets usually instruct users to take the tablets before drinking. But if the tablets did work as intended, they would absorb the alcohol in the stomach, before it enters the blood.
Sure, users would not suffer a hangover, but they also wouldn’t feel any of the alcohol’s effects. This would be the same as spitting out the drink before you swallow it. Why even bother to drink at all?
Plus, as stated in this New York Magazine article, it is questionable whether activated charcoal even adsorbs significant amounts of alcohol. For this reason, administration of activated charcoal is not a standard treatment in alcohol poisoning cases.
That’s right – emergency medical personnel don’t use activated charcoal to treat alcohol “overdoses,” so why would activated charcoal prevent a hangover?
If you want to know more, this is a good summary of the outdated science behind claims of charcoal “hangover” pills.
Dehydration is a huge part of the cause of hangover symptoms. And even though you can’t get rid of a hangover simply by drinking water, using IV hydration and intravenous medications to fight headaches and nausea are the most tried and true methods of combating a hangover.
Real hangovers need real medicine. I’ve seen vitamin injections or infusions help with fatigue and brain fog from a hangover on thousands of our hangover patients.
Leave the activated charcoal to the emergency room docs, and get real, effective treatment for your hangover from my team at Hangover Heaven IV Hydration®. Before your next hangover, try our Nightlife Prep pills which will help your body deal with the alcohol aftermath.