When people talk about using activated charcoal (AC), they may associate it with the charcoal used to make a roast. However, this is not the same type of charcoal. Activated charcoal has many uses and health benefits and is used for teeth whitening, for preventing gas, for a face mask, for detoxifying, as well as other things.
We have to emphasize that this article talks about the health benefits of activated charcoal, not the charcoal that is used for roasts. Charcoal that is not categorized as activated charcoal should never be ingested.
What is activated charcoal?
Charcoal is made from a variety of materials such as wood, peat, bamboo, and coconut. Most of the activated charcoal that is sold for ingestion is produced from coconut. The charcoal is activated by heating to very high temperatures of more than 1400° F and given a treatment with oxygen. This process causes pores to form in the carbon which gives it a large surface area.
It is this porous surface that makes it a powerful substance for ridding the body of certain toxins. Charcoal adsorbs chemicals and toxins. Absorption is a process by which elements are attached to its surface and then expelled.
How to use activated charcoal
There are many ways to use activated charcoal to improve health and wellness. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Activated charcoal for teeth whitening
It may sound like a paradox, but CA is an amazing tooth whitening product. Of course, at first the mouth and teeth will be black, but this will rinse off very easily. CA absorbs plaque, tannins, and other toxins that can stain teeth. It balances the pH levels in the mouth and this can help prevent cavities from developing, bad breath, and reduce the risk of gum disease.
How to brush your teeth with activated charcoal. If you have charcoal tablets, crush one into a fine powder. If you have activated charcoal capsules, you can carefully open them and remove the dust. Dip a clean, wet toothbrush in the powder and brush your teeth normally for about 2 minutes. Carefully spit out the mixture and rinse well. You may have to repeat the rinse several times before all the activated charcoal is completely removed. For best results, activated charcoal can be used to clean your teeth 2 or 3 times a week.
For skin health
The power of activated charcoal to eliminate toxins also works when applied topically. It is not absorbed into the body, but absorbs bacteria, chemicals, poisons, and dirt from the skin. This means that AC powder can help not only revive your skin and make it look younger, but it also helps treat acne and relieve itchiness after insect and spider bites.
For insect bites
If you have been bitten by an insect, mix a CA capsule with ½ tablespoon of coconut oil and apply a small amount to the affected area. Remember to wrap the area with a bandage to prevent the charcoal mixture from staining anything.
You can also use the mixture of activated charcoal and coconut oil, as a first aid measure in case you have been bitten by a poisonous spider. Put a little of the mixture on a piece of cloth that is large enough to wrap around the affected area. Secure with bandages and change the bandage every 2 to 3 hours. But you may also want to see your doctor.
Activated charcoal for face masks
This activated charcoal mask is combined with other healing ingredients, such as:
- Clay (used for detoxification of the body and skin).
- Matcha green tea powder.
- aloe vera.
- Coconut oil.
- Scottish elm.
- Essential oils such as tea tree or lavender (or other essential oils for example essential oils for acne).
But you don’t have to use all of the above ingredients, you can only use some of them to create the paste for the mask with the activated charcoal.
To make the mask, put the dry ingredients of your choice in a small bowl and mix with the non-dry ingredients like aloe vera gel, coconut oil, witch hazel, to form a paste. Add a few drops of essential oils and mix again.
Then apply the mixture to the face, avoiding the eyes, mouth and nose. Leave for 20 minutes before washing. Remember to rinse carefully so as not to stain anything.
Activated charcoal for gas and bloating
Taking activated charcoal can relieve gastric discomfort caused by gas and bloating. It absorbs toxins in the intestine that can cause gas. The American Journal of Gastroenterology published a report in which CA was found to reduce bloating and abdominal cramps caused by gas.
For best results, you should take a 500mg capsule with a large glass of water an hour before a meal. Then drink another glass of water immediately after a meal.
Activated charcoal for liver and kidney health
In hepatitis, neonatal jaundice, cirrhosis, and liver cancer, the liver may not be able to filter certain poisons and waste products from the blood. The accumulation of these toxins in the blood poses a significant health risk. Activated charcoal, taken internally or applied externally, is well known to adsorb these poisons and support the liver in its work of detoxifying the blood.
Since the liver is so involved in filtering toxins and impurities from the blood, and since charcoal has a reputation for removing unwanted contaminants from a wide variety of products, it makes perfect sense that charcoal would be a natural choice for remedies to complement the work of the liver.
In fact, a liver dialysis unit uses activated charcoal to purify the blood when there is severe liver failure, just like a kidney dialysis machine uses a granular activated charcoal bed to detoxify the blood when the kidneys are sick.
A half teaspoon of activated charcoal in a glass of water three times a day, for liver problems, can be effective for faster improvement.
Activated charcoal as antitoxins
One of the most common uses of activated charcoal is in the treatment of certain cases of drug overdose. Some of the drugs with which activated charcoal is effective are aspirin, paracetamol, tricyclic antidepressants, and barbiturates.
A study published in the Journal of Toxicology showed that the standard dose of 50 g of activated charcoal was sufficient to adsorb enough paracetamol in patients who had overdosed on this substance and that it should be considered as a beneficial treatment in certain cases.
Activated charcoal is also good for helping rid the body of toxins. You can use activated charcoal as part of a detox regimen, by taking it as a supplement. To do this, you must take 10 grams of activated charcoal about 90 minutes before each meal. Do this for 2 days.
Activated charcoal also removes harmful toxins from drinking water and is the main component of water filters. It can also be used to treat food poisoning, as well as alcohol poisoning.
Lowers high cholesterol
Taking activated charcoal orally also has a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels. A study published in The Lancet, showed that a dose of 8 grams per day was able to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) by 25% and 41% respectively, while HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol ) increased by 8%. The patients had negligible side effects.
Reduces bile flow problems in pregnant women
Many pregnant women experience discomfort during pregnancy. This is where there is a decrease in the flow of bile causing the skin to appear yellowish. Studies published by the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, showed that 50 g of activated charcoal taken 3 times a day for 8 days, was able to treat the discomfort in pregnancy.
Activated charcoal dosage
Activated charcoal is generally safe to use and is only intended to be carried on a short-term basis. This is because it also adsorbs vitamins and minerals from the body and this can have a negative impact on health if taken over a long period of time.
In cases of drug overdose or poisoning, it is recommended for adults to take 50 to 100 grams of activated charcoal first, followed by activated charcoal every 2 to 4 hours at a dose equal to 12.5 grams per hour. Each dose must be mixed with water. For children, lower doses are used (10 to 25 grams).
Dairy products like milk have been shown to affect the effectiveness of activated charcoal, so taking the capsules with milk should be avoided.
Activated charcoal side effects
- As we have mentioned, it is generally safe to use. However, there are some side effects to be aware of.
- One of the most notable side effects is constipation and black stools. Therefore, people with a decrease or blockage of the intestinal tract, should avoid large doses of activated charcoal.
- It can lead to dehydration, so to counteract this, you should drink plenty of water while taking CA. This also benefits your health as it helps flush more toxins out of your body.
- It can affect how other medications react with the body, so if you are taking medications, it is best not to take activated charcoal capsules at the same time you take your medication.
Activated Carbon Selling Points
Activated charcoal can be purchased at many online stores and pharmacies. The best kind is the kind that is made from coconut shells. Another good one is wood, so read the label carefully to make sure you’re getting the best type of activated charcoal.
Some activated charcoal capsules have artificial sweeteners added, and these should be avoided.