Does Activated Charcoal Help Pass a Drug Test?
Over the past couple of years, activated charcoal has gained a lot of popularity. It is considered a powerful detoxifying ingredient that is increasingly being used in a wide range of products including toothpaste, detox drinks, face masks, etc. Activated charcoal has gained immense popularity for being a potential means to pass a drug test. However, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation surrounding its use for this purpose, and its effectiveness is still up for debate. In this article, we will explore the science behind activated charcoal, its potential benefits and risks, and whether or not it can actually help you pass a drug test.
Table of Contents
What Is Activated Charcoal?
It is charcoal, which has been physically and chemicals activated to ameliorate its absorption properties. Activated charcoal contains an increased concentration of microporosity, therefore even a gram of activated charcoal tends to hold 3,000 m2 of surface area.
The high rate of absorption present in the product is the prominent reason why this ingredient is being increasingly used in detox products.
How Does It Work?
When you use activated charcoal for medical reasons, it efficiently absorbs the toxins from the body, especially from the gastrointestinal tract, and helps in keeping the bloodstream clean. To remove THC metabolites from the body, activated charcoal must be taken orally so that it passes through the gastrointestinal tract and is eliminated from the body in the stool. This means that in order to get the desired results, THC metabolites must be present in your stomach, where they must bind together with charcoal.
And contrary to what many people believe, THC does get back into the gastrointestinal tract after being completely absorbed into the bloodstream. When THC is distilled into your system, it forms a continuous cycle where the compound travels from the blood system to the intestines and then again to your blood system in a movement known as enterohepatic circulation.
What Is Enterohepatic Circulation?
Enterohepatic circulation is a cycle in which substances such as bilirubin, bile acids, and drug metabolites pass through the liver into the gallbladder and then into the intestine. Subsequently, these substances are re-absorbed into your blood system and transported back to the liver.
When you consume cannabis in edible form, a majority of THC (around 95%) goes through your stomach and intestines, then into your bloodstream, finally making its way into the liver. When you smoke, the THC is distilled into the blood system via the lungs and lining of your mouth.
Once mixed with your blood, the THC is transferred to your liver where it is converted into 11-hydroxy-THC and eventually into THC-COOH. The liver then combines a glucuronide molecule with the THC-COOH and forms THC-COOH-glucuronide. This is done to remove the component from the body in the form of urine. However, a certain portion of the THC-COOH-glucuronide is entered into the bile as well, which may appear in the drug test.
Does Activated Charcoal Clean Your System from THC Metabolites?
Yes, it does. In order to get an answer to this question, several studies were conducted. In one laboratory experiment that researchers conducted to identify how efficient is activated charcoal in binding with THC metabolites, it was found that 5 mg of activated charcoal can adsorb or bind as much as 1,000 ng/mL of THC-COOH. This experiment has confirmed that activated charcoal can alter the results of urine drug tests, and therefore it can be used to pass it.
In another study with volunteers smoking marijuana and taking activated charcoal before and after smoking in a total dose of 30 grams, the observation of researchers was as follows:
- After 24 hours of smoking weed, the level of THC-COOH present in the system of those who took activated charcoal was lowered by 45% as compared to those who did not take it.
- In 24 hours, the level of THC-COOH-glucuronide in the urine of activated charcoal users was entirely undetectable.
The study indicated that activated charcoal was able to absorb a significant portion of THC metabolites and clear it out from the body with urine and feces.
How to Use Activated Charcoal to Pass the Drug Test
There are certain things you should consider while using activated charcoal as a remedy to clear out THC from your body. The following are some key considerations:
- Avoid taking any kind of medication when you are taking activated charcoal. This is because you want to clear your system from the maximum amount of drug metabolites and you don't want to add to the effort by consuming more drugs.
- For at least 2 days before a drug test, start taking 10 grams of activated charcoal with plenty of water two hours before your meals. A total of 30 grams of charcoal pills need to be taken in a day. Foods must be fiber-enriched.
- Test your urine regularly with the home drug test to check the level of THC in your system.
- On the day you have to take the drug test, continue to take the charcoal pills with a lot of water. You can also use marijuana detox drinks to increase urination and help your body to get rid of THC
Is It Safe to Use?
Activated charcoal is generally safe for use when taken in appropriate doses and for short periods of time. However, it is important to note that it can interfere with the absorption of nutrients and medications in the body, so it should not be taken regularly or with other medications without consulting a healthcare provider. There have also been concerns raised about the safety of activated charcoal in certain situations, such as in people with liver or kidney disease, as well as in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
It is also worth noting that activated charcoal cannot be detected in laboratory samples, so you can safely use it without the risk of being accused of adulterating the test.
When Does the Activated Charcoal Work and When Not?
There is no definite way of suggesting how long it will take to detoxify your system through the use of activated charcoal. It depends on the person to person and the kind and amount of drug they have ingested. Additionally, you should know that these pills only work with toxins that are present in the enterohepatic cycle and will not work for the THC that is stored in the fat cells. This means that it will work better for those who eat cannabis edibles than for those who smoke weed.
Furthermore, the metabolism rate of people determines the number of metabolites that can be released from lipids and transferred into the bloodstream from where they will be excreted out from the body. So if your metabolism is high, then you will be able to release more THC molecules and the process of detoxification will not take long.
If your drug test is within 1 or 2 weeks, then you can use charcoal pills along with high-fiber foods and plenty of exercises in order to remove the toxins from your body and easily pass the test. If, however, you have a drug test in 1-2 days, this method seems to be very risky. You should try an extra strong marijuana detox kit in this case, which provides fast results.