Ep. 38 The Gritty Truth About Charcoal

In This Episode

Toothpaste with activated charcoal has swept the nation, so Neal is joined today by Dr. John Brooks to explore the pros and cons.

Dr. Brooks and colleagues conducted a study to examine the effects of brushing with charcoal, and the short version is that it’s not doing you any good.

He and neal discuss what he found out about the standards of the charcoal and why there is such a pronounced whitening effect.

They also explore what data there is to support the antimicrobial claims, the use of bentonite clay, and how all of this interacts with fluoride.

Dr. Brooks also explains the important reality that gets no attention- the carcinogenic properties of charcoal and bentonite clay.

Topics Discussed

  • Where the charcoal toothpaste trend started
  • The lack of long-term data
  • Lack of standards for charcoal quality
  • It is potentially carcinogenic
  • Bentonite clay- also potentially carcinogenic
  • How it interacts with fluoride
  • Allergies to natural additives
  • Lack of data about antimicrobial properties
  • The whitening effect
  • The abrasiveness
  • Understanding the risk

All About John Brooks

John K. Brooks is a doctor of dental surgery and clinical professor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, Dept. of Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences. He co-authored a study on the effects of activated charcoal in toothpaste and other dentifrices. 


Dr. Neal Smoller, Holistic Pharmacist

About Neal Smoller

Dr. Neal Smoller, PharmD, is a licensed pharmacist: and owner of Village Apothecary, an independent pharmacy in the most famous small town in America—Woodstock, NY. He’s also the host of the popular wellness podcast, The Big Mouth Pharmacist.”


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