Activated charcoal is a potent natural treatment used to trap toxins and chemicals in the body, allowing them to be flushed out so the body doesn’t reabsorb them. It’s made from a variety of sources, but when used for natural healing, it’s important to select activated charcoal made from coconut shells or other natural sources.
One of the most popular activated charcoal uses is for the safe and effective treatment of poisoning and drug overdoses. It’s used in emergency trauma centers across the world. In addition, it’s used to reduce bloating and gas, lower cholesterol, treat bile flow problems safely during pregnancy, and even prevent hangovers.(1)
Research shows that activated charcoal works better than stomach pumping (gastric lavage) in some situations.(2)
So, how does activated charcoal work?
Activated charcoal works by trapping toxins and chemicals in its millions of tiny pores. Typically, however, it’s not used when petroleum, alcohol, lye, acids or other corrosive poisons are ingested.
It doesn’t absorb the toxins, however. Instead it works through the chemical process of adsorption. In the body,absorption is the reaction of elements, including nutrients, chemicals and toxins, soaked up and assimilated into the blood stream. Adsorption is the chemical reaction where elements bind to a surface.
The porous surface of activated charcoal has a negative electric charge that causes positive charged toxins and gas to bond with it. The nooks and crannies in activated charcoal are created through a heating process. It’s important to note that activated charcoal is not charcoal used in your barbecue grill! Barbecue charcoal is loaded with toxins and chemicals, and should never be consumed.
Top 7 Activated Charcoal Uses
Whenever you take activated charcoal, it’s imperative to drink 12-16 glasses of water per day. Activated charcoal can cause dehydration if adequate amounts of water aren’t consumed in tandem. In addition, this helps to flush out the toxins quickly and prevents constipation experienced by some individuals.
In addition to being a safe and effective treatment for poisonings and the removal of toxins from the system, additional activated charcoal uses include deodorizing and disinfecting, and it’s an important step to cure Lyme disease. Here are the top 10 activated charcoal uses:
1. Whitens Teeth
Have your teeth become stained from coffee, tea, wine or berries? Activated charcoal helps whiten teeth while promoting good oral health by changing the pH balance in the mouth, helping prevent cavities, bad breath and gum disease.
It works to whiten teeth by adsorbing plaque and microscopic tidbits that stain teeth. This activated charcoal use is cost-effective and an all-natural solution for a bright smile.
BE CAREFUL, it can (and will) stain grout and fabrics. Protect counters, floors and clothing before using.
To whiten your teeth naturally, wet a toothbrush and dip into powdered activated charcoal. Brush teeth as normal, paying special attention to areas showing the most staining. Sip a bit of water, swish through mouth thoroughly and spit. Rinse well, until spit is clear.
For best results, brush your teeth with activated charcoal two-three times per week.
Note: If you have crowns, caps or porcelain veneers, it’s possible that activated charcoal will stain them. In addition, if your teeth become sensitive, quit using it.
2. Alleviates Gas & Bloating
One activated charcoal use often overlooked is to alleviate uncomfortable gas and bloating. It works by binding the gas-causing byproducts in foods that cause discomfort.
A study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that activated charcoal prevents intestinal gas following a typical gas-producing meal.(4)
Dosing recommendations to alleviate gas and bloating: Take 500 milligrams one hour prior to a typical gas-producing meal, with a full glass of water. Follow with an additional glass of water immediately thereafter to help get the charcoal into your system, where it can bind with gas-producing elements.
3. Treats Alcohol Poisoning & Helps Prevent Hangovers
While activated charcoal does not adsorb alcohol, it does help quickly remove other toxins from the body that contribute to poisoning. Alcohol is rarely consumed in its pure form; mixers that include artificial sweeteners and chemicals are common. Activated charcoal removes these toxins.
In addition, when activated charcoal is taken at the same time as alcohol, some studies show it can significantly reduce blood alcohol concentrations.(5) Princeton University’sFirst Aider’s Guide to Alcohol indicates that activated charcoal is administered in some situations related to alcohol.(6) This includes if the individual is unconscious or showing signs of acute alcohol poisoning.
4. Skin and Body Health
Activated charcoal uses extend beyond internal applications. For external treatments, it’s effective at treating body odor and acne and relieving discomfort from insect bites, rashes from poison ivy or poison oak, and snake bites.
After a mosquito bite or bee sting, mix one capsule of activated charcoal with ½ tablespoon of coconut oil, and dab on affected area. Reapply every 30 minutes until itching and discomfort are gone. As activated charcoal stains nearly everything it touches, wrap with a bandage.
To treat bites from snakes and spiders, including the Brown Recluse or Black Widow, you want to cover a larger area than just a small bandage, as the bacteria and viruses that lead to tissue damage need to be mitigated quickly.
Create a wrap out of fabric that’s big enough to go around the affected area twice. Dab the mixture of coconut oil and activated charcoal on the fabric, and wrap. Secure with bandages. Reapply every two to three hours, rinsing well between applications.
To treat acne, mix one capsule of activated charcoal with two teaspoons of aloe vera gel, and smooth over face. Let dry and rinse off completely. The activated charcoal binds with environmental toxins and dirt that contribute to acne. It’s also good for spot treatments.
5. Digestive Cleanse
Activated charcoal uses help promote a healthy digestive tract by removing toxins that cause allergic reactions, oxidative damage and poor immune system function. By removing the toxins from your system, you can reduce joint pain, increase energy and increase mental function.
Environmental factors, including pesticides on food, chemicals in the water we drink and exposure to mold, create a toxic burden in our bodies. It’s important to routinely cleanse the digestive tract to support overall health and wellness. To complete a digestive cleanse with activated charcoal, take 10 grams 90 minutes prior to each meal, for two days.
During the cleanse, eat only organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meat, and wild fish. If during the cleanse you find you are constipated, this is a sure sign you’re not consuming enough water! Drink a glass of warm water with a slice of lemon and a touch of honey every half hour until constipation is relieved.
6. Reduces High Cholesterol
Studies around the world show that activated charcoal reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol as much as some prescription medications. In one study, total cholesterol decreased by 25 percent, LDL cholesterol decreased by 41 percent, while HDL increased by 8 percent — in just four weeks.(9)
Study participants took three doses of eight grams each for the period of the study. As mentioned below, don’t take activated charcoal within 90 minutes to two hours of taking any prescription medication or supplements as it can prevent proper absorption.
7. Emergency Toxin Removal
As mentioned above, one of the most common activated charcoal uses is to remove toxin and chemicals in the event of ingestion. Most organic compounds, pesticides, mercury, fertilizer and bleach bind to activated charcoal’s surface, allowing for quicker elimination, while preventing the absorption in the body.
Activated charcoal is also used in the event of an accidental, or purposeful, overdose of many pharmaceutical drugs and over-the-counter medications. It’s effective for aspirin, opium, cocaine, morphine and acetaminophen. It’s important that the proper amount is administered as quickly as possible — definitely within an hour of ingestion.
In the event of poisoning, call 911 immediately. Proper dosing is imperative. According to the University of Michigan Health System, 50 to 100 grams (not milligrams!) is used in cases of poisoning in adults and 10 to 25 grams for children.(8)
In addition, activated charcoal can be used in cases of food poisoning when nausea and diarrhea are present. Adults take 25 grams at onset of symptoms or when food poisoning is suspected, and children should be given 10 grams. Increase dosage as necessary. Remember, it’s essential that adequate water is consumed when activated charcoal is taken.
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Have you ever user activated charcoal? How do you use it? How often?