Potential Uses And Benefits Of Activated Charcoal: Try It

What is activated charcoal ? Does it really work and is it safe? Find out its main uses and other added benefits from this handy guide.

By Gerald Matiri
Potential Uses And Benefits Of Activated Charcoal: Try It

What Exactly Is Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a byproduct of combusted sources of carbon: olive pits, coconut shells, sawdust, bone char, peat, petroleum coke, and wood. High temperatures are used in the burning process to eliminate oxygen and activate the charcoal with steam. At very high temperatures, the internal structure of charcoal is reduced by size while its surface area is increased. The difference between regular and activated charcoal is that the latter is medicinal while the former is a carcinogen. While both come from similar raw materials, regular charcoal is not activated by high temperatures and may contain harmful substances. Activated charcoal, which is tasteless and odorless, comes in form of a tablet, sponge/fabric, powder, pill, or granule/cube. For its many benefits, it has been given a superfood status. Activated charcoal is used in almost any health aspect from teeth-whitening, lowering cholesterol, relieving stomach discomfort, detoxification, to making cocktails free of hangovers. Today, this substance is highly promoted as a potential natural treatment. Activated charcoal is manufactured and does not occur naturally in foods. Where it is used in the treatment of a condition, help from a qualified health practitioner is advised. This guide provides details on the science behind activated charcoal as well as its purported merits.

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How Activated Charcoal Works

The process of burning a source of carbon results in a porous substance with countless pores of negative electric charge. This negative charge binds and removes chemicals, poison, intestinal gases, and heavy metals. It is the absorbent surface of activated charcoal that attracts positively charged hydrophobic toxins and smells from drinks or gases (note that it acts by adsorption/binding rather than absorption of toxins). Adsorption is the process by which toxins and other chemicals bind to a surface, soak up and become incorporated into the blood. By trapping the poisons and harmful chemicals in the stomach, it prevents their absorption and subsequent harm. It can adsorb harmful substances which are a thousand times its mass- that’s how powerful it is. Since the activated charcoal pill is not absorbable in the gut, it is eliminated, together with the toxins it carries, through feces.

Uses & Benefits Of Activated Charcoal

It is recommended that you take 12 to 16 glasses of water on a daily basis if you are taking any activated charcoal supplement. This is because this natural treatment causes dehydration and water is needed to flush out the toxic elements. Sufficient water will thus prevent constipation.

1) As a poison antidote

Because of its toxin-binding qualities, the activated charcoal tablet is very helpful in emergency poisoning treatment. It binds with and reduces the adverse effects of various drugs when taken in overdose e.g. acetaminophen, aspirin, and sedatives. If an average dose of 75 grams of this treatment is ingested, it reduces the absorption of overdosed drugs by 74%, according to research. The efficacy of activated charcoal can, however, be reduced by alcohol consumption or if taken when it’s too late (3 hours after an overdose). Multiple dosage protocols are used whereby the first dose of about 75 grams is followed by 2-6 doses of 40 grams. But the treatment method is limited to particular poisoning instances. It is less effective in cases of lithium, heavy metal, potassium, iron, acid, alkali, or alcohol poisoning. Organic compounds, fertilizer, pesticides, bleaches, and mercury can be bound to the surface of activated charcoal, facilitating faster removal before they execute their dangers in the body, In the event of an accidental or intentional drug overdose of over-the-counter drugs and pharmaceuticals, activated charcoal plays an important role. It is also effective for abused substances like morphine, cocaine, and opium. Additionally, activated charcoal works well in food poisoning cases which are characterized by diarrhea and vomiting. In such situations, and adult is supposed to consume a 25-gram pill for starters and the dosage increased as per the doctor’s instructions. Children, on the other hand, should take 10 grams and dosage increased as required.

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2) Healthy kidney benefit

Activated charcoal is known to enhance the functioning of the kidneys because it minimized the bulk of waste materials that require filtering. Patients suffering from kidney diseases benefit the most from this natural remedy. In normal cases, kidneys filter the blood without extra help. But in case of a chronic ailment, the kidneys experience tough times eliminating toxins and urea from the body. This is where activated charcoal comes in; it binds all the toxins and wastes thereby removing them from the body. These waste products are passed through bloodstreams via diffusion into the gut where they are adsorbed by activated charcoal and later excreted as human waste. Studies show that activated charcoal reduces the concentration of urea and other wastes in blood in people suffering from chronic kidney diseases. However, there is a need for in-depth studies to make strong conclusions

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3) Activated charcoal and personal hygiene

Activated charcoal makes a perfect addition to your household. Its popular hygienic uses include: Face mask: Do you want to attain a smoother and flawless skin? Try the natural activated charcoal remedy. It combats acne due to its ability to eliminate skin impurities. Dermatologists prescribe this compound because it adsorbs dirt and other impurities on the face. It has to come into direct contact with the face for it to take action. In the treatment of acne, one tablet is mixed with aloe vera gel and the mixture applied over the face. Once it dries off, it should be rinsed thoroughly. It acts on the toxins and dirt that make up the acne. Also, it is effective for the removal of dark spots. Treatment of insect bites: A combination of activated charcoal and coconut oil is a great relief to mosquito bites, spider, ants and bee stings. Reducing fish odor syndrome: People suffering from TMAU (trimethylaminuria) produce an unpleasant smell due to lack of the enzyme responsible for the conversion of the TMA. The odor (TMA), which is synonymous with that of rotten fish, is converted to odorless compound and excreted through urine.

4) Alleviating gas and flatulence

Activated charcoal may be used to relieve gastrointestinal issues such as bloating and diarrhea. It does this by binding the byproducts that cause too much gas in the stomach. The dosage to for eliminating bloating is 500mg which is taken an hour before a meal in tandem with a glass of water. It also improves the odor of the gases produced after digestion. After you take in such meals as beans and meat, the bacteria involved in the decomposition process produces foul gas or diarrhea. If activated charcoal is present, it binds the byproducts of digestion thereby counteracting this process.

5) Low cholesterol benefit

It binds bile acids carrying cholesterol inside the gas thereby preventing their absorption. If you take 24g of activated charcoal on a daily basis, it will reduce the level of bad cholesterol in your body by 25%. In addition, it raises good cholesterol by 8%. However, it must not be taken within two hours of ingesting any drug or supplement as it hampers the absorption. Therefore, an activated charcoal tablet is an effective remedy for better cardiovascular health.

6) Whitening of teeth

Activated charcoal may be used to improve cleanliness and appearance of the teeth. It works on the teeth by eliminating the plaque and tidbits which cause teeth staining. It washes away the stains very quickly. This is an oral health benefit which is effective at preventing gum ailments, cavities, and bad odor. Note that activated charcoal toothpaste changes pH balance in the mouth but it must be used in moderation as it can damage the teeth enamel. To reduce the adverse effects on the enamel, the powder form should be mixed with water and dabbed onto the teeth. It is left there for around 3 minutes and must not be ingested. It is then rinsed. For better outcomes, brush your teeth normally and pay special attention to the stained ones. Then sip water and rinse the mouth thoroughly until the spit becomes clear. However, you may not use activated charcoal on porcelain veneers or caps. And if your teeth start experiencing sensitivity, stop applying it. If your teeth are turning brown due to caffeinated drinks or cigarettes, activated charcoal can help you regain the original color of your teeth. It will not only improve the appearance of your teeth but also prevent other issues like periodontal disease, bad breath, and cavity formation. It is a cost-effective and natural remedy for an attractive smile.

7) Activated charcoal for water filtration

Fluoride and heavy metal that invade drinking water are unhealthy. Activated charcoal is effective at removing such contaminants. It traps the impurities including pesticides, solvents, and industrial waste. But it may not eliminate viruses, hard minerals, and bacteria. Fluoride is harmful to your teeth, kidneys, liver, and the immune system. Activated carbon fibers thus play an important role in detoxifying drinking water. Tap water is dangerous and you should find a way to purify it. You can buy activated charcoal as a whole-home system or in countertop models. The treated water provides added benefits such as reducing fatigue, soothing the digestive tract, and maintaining proper functioning of various organs like kidneys.

8) Elimination of toxic mold

If you didn’t know, mold can inhabit the human body and may cause kidney failure, heart ailments, headaches, respiratory distress, liver dysfunction, impaired brain function, nausea, irritation of the eyes, and poor immunity. If your house is flooded or there are leaks in your walls and roofs, mold has more chances of surviving and you will be welcoming serious health issues. Poor ventilation is another factor that will accelerate the mold issue. If you spot any mold in your house, it’s time you mitigate it through the application of activated charcoal. Start by cleansing the areas which are inhabited by the toxic mold and make sure that you have protective wear on- gloves and a respiratory mask. Combine activated charcoal with vinegar, baking soda, borax, and tea tree oil. If anyone in your family suffers from unexplained allergies, rashes, headaches, watery eyes, and ceaseless coughs, it is imperative to evaluate the house and check for any presence of mold growth. Mold spores are more prevalent in areas such as under the floor, behind drywall, under carpets, and in ventilation channels.

9) Anti-aging benefit

Activated charcoal pill curbs premature aging by minimizing the damage to body cells in major organs like the liver and kidney. It also supports the health of the adrenal gland. However, in as much as activated charcoal reduces premature aging, it is important that you check your lifestyle if you want to have a long life by regular exercises and healthy diet. Even though aging is part of life, toxicity can accelerate it. If toxins are left to thrive in the body, they cause major damage to the skin and other organs. Activated charcoal helps to flush out these harmful substances which come from the environment and food we take. Two tablets/capsules are recommended after exposure to potential toxins as in heavy metals and inorganic foods. The capsules help to support brain and cognitive functions, kidney, digestive, and liver health.

10) Prevention of alcohol poisoning and hangovers

Alcohol contains a lot of impurities from sweeteners and other chemicals. Activated charcoal cannot adsorb alcohol but it acts quickly to bind toxins that bring about poisoning. Some studies prove that when the activated charcoal pill is consumed concurrently with alcohol, it reduces the concentration of alcohol in bloodstreams. It is administered in some cases of alcohol consumption such as acute alcohol poisoning. Sometimes, activated charcoal is used to cure hangovers. While the real effects are not yet verified, it is known to reduce the amount of alcohol that flows into bloodstreams and consequently minimizing hangovers.

Does this work? Lol #hangovercure

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11) Overall health and wellness benefit

The most prominent benefit of the activated charcoal supplement is the cleansing of the digestive tract. It removes major impurities that are related to poor immune mechanism, allergies, and oxidative damage. When toxins are cleared from the body systems, the body experiences high energy production, minimal joint pains, and improved cognitive functions. There are various environmental factors that contribute to poor health including contaminated drinks, mold, and inorganic substances in foods. These impurities are a burden to the human body and they need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Since the digestive system is a fundamental mechanism, it supports overall health when cleansed with activated charcoal. A 10-gram activated charcoal tablet is sufficient to remove toxins and should be taken one and a half hours before a major meal for 2 consecutive days. It is important to assimilate organic diets into the cleansing process to make it more effective. Only take organic meals and a lot of water to prevent constipation. A glass of lukewarm water with lemon should be taken after every 30 minutes until the tablet accomplishes its mission. Due to this great health benefit, an activated charcoal pill from coconut shells is normally used in: • To combat tiredness and bad mood • For jet lag • In conjunction with bad coffee • To reduce toxins in pregnant women • Together with alcohol • When taking low-quality meals or junks in a restaurant To thrive in a toxin-filled environment, make use of this natural detoxifier between meals and only some hours after you ingest a supplement or any drug.

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12) Wound dressing benefit

When used in chronic wound dressing, activated charcoal is better tolerated than when conventional wound dressing method is used. It helps in elimination of toxins and excess fluids which hamper proper healing.

13) In conjunction with regular soap

If you want to deep clean your hair or skin, the detoxifying element is just right for you. Activated charcoal treats the skin pores and exfoliates the skin. If you want to make your own detoxifying soap, add one teaspoon of the powder to some lukewarm water. Shake the mixture till it becomes a paste. Add 5mls of honey or aloe vera gel and apply it to your face. Let it stay on your face for 10 minutes and rinse thoroughly. You may also apply the powder to your normal liquid soap or shampoo that you use to clean your hair. Make sure you rinse the hair thoroughly to eliminate any discoloration by the activated charcoal powder. It also makes a good body scrub when incorporated into your body soap. Two or three capsules are enough to cleanse your entire body. Note such kind of soap should not be used on daily basis but in a similar manner that a deep cleaning skin care product is used. You cannot use the soap on dry skin or hair because it will cause more dehydration hence damage to hair follicles and skin cells. Before you apply the soap on your body, try it first to ensure that it doesn’t cause staining r discoloration. However, you shouldn’t be worried if it leaves behind some color on your hair; regular shampoo can eliminate it and you will still reap the benefit of the detoxifying soap.

14) Air purification benefit

Due to the absorbent nature of activated charcoal, it is an ideal substance for eliminating allergens, odors and other chemicals from the air. That is why it is commonly found in air purification products. Activated charcoal bags are some of the most convenient substances to clean your indoor air and that last for multiple years. All that they need is recharging under the sun on a monthly basis.

15) Activated charcoal deodorant

Because of its great ability to absorb toxic smells and fouls, activated charcoal may be used underarms to absorb sweat and the odor associated with it. Research shows that it is very effective in reduction of stinks. Clothes made of activated carbon fiber have been proven to reduce body odor that often comes from sweat or flatulence. This is the reason the product is highly recommended for airplane seat cushions to minimize foul air when passengers pass gas. Its efficiency as a deodorant is yet to be studied in depth but you can give it a try as there is no harm. Activated charcoal cannot irritate the skin, unlike some deodorants which carry concentrated chemicals. The natural cream absorbs sweat and body odor leaving you fresh.

16) Cleansing detox drinks

Today, most prominent detoxifier is activated charcoal. It is used in lemonades, fresh juices, and other drinks. However, it may reduce the absorption of vital nutrients and vitamins in these drinks. But the good side is that it will remove any harmful substance in your drinks. Remember that chronic toxins corrupt the functioning of your major body systems like the brain, digestion, and immunity. Regular consumption of detoxified drinks leaves you healthier and vibrant. If at any moment you feel under the weather, try detox drinks with activated charcoal- it could be the bacteria that have inhabited your body and this detoxifier will flush them out quickly before they multiply.

Does Activated Charcoal Bring Any Side Effects

Activated charcoal is ideally safe for most people. But it is important to understand potential hazards involved in its application. In most cases, it causes dehydration and that is why sufficient water intake is emphasized. In some rare cases, it can result in intestinal perforations and bleeding, slow digestion, and blockage of the gut. These side effects are quite rare. But the most common are nauseated feelings followed by vomiting. Black stool only occurs if an individual fails to take in water as recommended. Activated charcoal can hamper the absorption of medicine, supplements, and nutrients. For this matter, it should only be taken one and a half hours before the ingestion of prescribed drugs or a meal. It can cause adverse effects if used together with these drugs: Oxycodone, Methadone, Acrivastine, Suvorexant, Morphine, Fentanyl, Tapentadol, Carbinoxamine, Oxymorphone, Acetaminophen, Umeclidinium, Theophylline, Bupropion, Naltrexone, Tricyclic, Hydrocodone, Mycophenolic Acid, Bupropion, Mycophenolate Mofetil, Meclizine, and Morphine Sulfate Liposome. If used for emergency poisoning treatment, activated charcoal tablet may leak into the lungs instead of the stomach causing drowsiness and a lot of vomiting. Due to the risk involved, it must only be administered to a fully conscious individual. In addition, it can accelerate the symptoms of variegate porphyria which is a skin, nervous system, and gut ailment related to genetics. In any case, it is important to consult a qualified health practitioner before taking activated charcoal.

How To Buy Quality Activated Charcoal

When choosing this natural remedy for toxin removal, it is important to understand its composition. Not every supplement is the same. A supplement or powder derived from wood and coconut shells is one of the best. The powder form normally contains sweeteners that make it more palatable so it’s not a very good choice. Any activated charcoal pill or powder with sweetener is full of chemicals and it doesn’t make any sense to ingest chemicals in order to eliminate toxins. If you find it hard to ingest the original non-sweetened powder, look for natural sweeteners e.g. fresh fruit juice. The activated charcoal supplement is found at grocery stores, drug stores, as well as health and vitamin shops. It comes in a variety of forms which may confuse you. If you are on tight budget, take the powder form although it can cause a lot of mess during the process of mixing it with a liquid, so it needs careful handling. The pill supplement is more convenient particularly if you travel a lot but it will cost you more. The capsule, on the other hand, is time-consuming if you bought it for whitening your teeth. You must break it first to obtain the powder. All in all, the important thing to consider when purchasing activated charcoal supplement is its source. Do not buy it from charcoal vendors who don’t stipulate the ingredients of this natural product. If you have an acute detox situation, opt for activated charcoal with sorbitol additive. Sometimes you might not find the supplement near you, but you can make one for yourself if you have the right information. Not that activated charcoal is not a wonder drug but a healthy tablet. Take it in moderation if you are trying it for the first time and combine it with a healthy lifestyle for better outcomes.

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