Charcoal usually only comes to mind when firing up the barbeque grill, however the “activated” version of the stuff, produced by heating wood or another high-carbon product to high temperatures and then oxidizing it, is currently the hottest thing in skincare and detoxing.

You might never have heard of activated charcoal till now but healers from Chinese, Ayurvedic and Western medicine have been using it to soak up poisons and improve intestinal health for over 10,000 years. The process is called “adsorption” meaning “to bind to” rather than to absorb. Today activated charcoal is used frequently beyond hospital use as a global remedy for general detoxification, digestion issues, gas, bloating, heart health and anti-aging. Natural juice brands are using it as an ingredient with their lemonade mixes (although the thick, black gooey substance does not look tasty or appealing) and wellness gurus like actress Shiva Rose advocate taking charcoal supplements. “Coconut oil was the big wellness trend and now activated charcoal is taking off,” Rose says. “It’s going more mainstream. It’s on morning shows like Good Morning America and in drugstore beauty brands like Origins and Biore.”

Common charcoal tablets often come in ineffectively small doses or messy powders and are typically made from cheap, low quality (often unidentified) materials. Your best bet to get started on this trend is by trying high quality and pure activated coconut charcoal. Never take activated charcoal with prescription medications and excessive charcoal consumption, especially without magnesium, can result in constipation. Oh, and don’t be alarmed if your poop is stained black as this is an expected occurrence! The benefits of activated charcoal range from jet lag recovery to processing junk food to helping with bad moods or lethargy.