What is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal has been used for a very long time because of its ability to detoxify the body and eliminate harmful poisons. During the First World War, soldiers used activated charcoal in their gas masks to prevent poisoning from chemicals and it is also commonly used to treat and purify water.
It is very similar to regular charcoal but the big difference being activated charcoal is produced for medical use with hospitals regularly using it to treat people with poisoning caused for example by alcohol or Lyme disease.
In order to make activated charcoal, ordinary charcoal gets heated with gas causing it to expand and creating the porous surface which is able to trap toxins. It can bind toxic substances to this surface and absorb its weight thousands of times over.
Activated charcoal can be bought in capsule form or in loose form. When shopping around for activated charcoal it is important to note that the product varies. It is best to look for the activated charcoal made with coconut shells or fine grained wood species. Also, many activated charcoal products contain sweeteners and these should be avoided.
Apart from its internal use, activated charcoal has many other uses and this article will focus on its use for your skin, teeth and hair.
Activated Charcoal for Skin
It may seem strange that this gritty powder could be so good for your skin, but it really is. People are increasingly adding activated charcoal to their daily beauty routine because of the way in which it can detoxify and purify the skin. It can clean out the pores and give you a really deep cleanse without any of the chemicals often found in skin treatments.
If you are one of the millions of people that suffer from acne, why not give activated charcoal a try. It is available in a soap form which has a slight gritty texture perfect for mild exfoliating. It is able to absorb oil and harmful toxins very effectively as well as being able to reduce the size of your pores.
In order to treat your acne with activated charcoal you can give this method a try.
- Mix a capsule of activated charcoal powder with a few teaspoons of fresh Aloe Vera or gel then apply the mixture all over your face.
- Allow it to dry before rinsing it off with fresh water.
This should be effective because the charcoal will bind to the toxins and grime which contributes to acne. If you do not want to slather your entire face then you can apply it directly to the affected areas instead.
For Oily Skin
If you suffer from oily skin, activated charcoal can help to bring balance. Whether you use it as a simple cleanser or apply it as a face mask, the activated charcoal can pull the excess oil out of your skin leaving it less oily, cleaner and smooth.
It is best not to overdo this treatment and you are recommended to use it just a few times each week in case you dry your skin out too much. People with dry skin should probably avoid using activated charcoal.
To Reduce Pores Size and Clean the Skin
Our pores tend to get clogged up with the environmental toxins that we face each day. The dirt and grime increases the size of our pores and this leaves our complexion looking less than healthy. When you cleanse your face with activated charcoal, it helps pull out the grime and dirt from your pores which makes them far less visible and your face looking and feeling clean and fresh.
To Soothe Bites and Cuts
As well as helping your skin feel and look cleaner, activated charcoal can be applied topically to stings, bites and minor wounds in order to prevent infection and expedite healing. When it is applied as a paste, it helps to absorb any toxins, reduces swelling and even relieves pain.
If you are unfortunate enough to have been bitten by a poisonous snake or spider, it can even help to absorb the venom.
- To make a topical paste, simply add a little water to the activated charcoal powder mixing it until you get a nice consistency which can be spread easily.
Activated Charcoal for Teeth
If you have been drinking black coffee for as many years as I have, you will be familiar with the battle to keep your teeth shiny and white. For my part, it has involved regular expensive and for me painful trips to the dentist (I know…I’m a bit of a coward).
Not only does activated charcoal effectively whiten your teeth but it also helps your overall oral health because it alters the pH balance of the mouth. This helps prevent bad breath, gum disease and even cavities.
Activated charcoal works so well to whiten the teeth because it can absorb plaque and the tiny particles which stain your teeth that dirty color. It is a much cheaper option than regular dental visits and if you are anything like me a far less terrifying solution.
- All you have to do is wet your toothbrush and then dip it into your powdered charcoal.
- Brush your teeth as you normally would but pay special attention to the areas with the worst staining.
- Rinse your mouth out with water and continue spitting it out until it is clear.
- Repeat this process several times each week and you should soon notice a big difference.
Activated Charcoal Hair and Scalp
In the same way that activated charcoal helps pull the toxins from your skin, it can do the same thing for your hair. Some commercial shampoos already include activated charcoal as an ingredient but it is easy enough to make your own by adding a teaspoon or so of activated charcoal powder to your regular shampoo and wash your hair as normal.
If you have very fair hair, the activated charcoal may stain it so you will need to be sure that you rinse out very thoroughly.
Washing your hair with activated charcoal can also help relieve your scalp of common issues like itching and dandruff. It will cleanse the follicles and pull out any toxins from the scalp as well as relieving inflammation and soothing scalp pain.
Activated Charcoal for Bloating and Gas
One of the best and most effective ways to put your activated charcoal to use is to relieve gas and alleviate any bloating that you may have. Activated charcoal works by binding the food byproducts that typically lead to gas and bloating and quickly relieving your discomfort.
A study published by the American Journal of Gastroenterology way back in the 1980s discovered that activated charcoal effectively prevented the build-up of stomach gases after eating the sort of meal that tends to produce gas.
As well as reducing flatulence and bloating, activated charcoal also reduced the incidence of painful stomach cramps for the participants. (1)
- The recommended dosage if you want to prevent or relieve gas is 500 mgs of activated charcoal an hour before you eat.
- It should be taken with a glass of water and followed up with another full glass to enable the charcoal to properly enter the system.
Activated Charcoal for Digestive Cleanse
Exposure to various toxins from the environment and pesticides in your food as well as chemicals in our water causes a burden on the body. Cleansing your body on a regular basis helps relieve this burden and keep our bodies in working shape.
Activated charcoal can be used to cleanse your digestive system and promote better digestive health because it helps remove harmful toxins from the system. This in turn can improve immune function, prevent oxidative damage, elevate energy and improve your mental function. If you are doing a digestive cleanse, you should take 10 grams of activated charcoal an hour or so before each meal for two whole days.
When cleansing the digestive system, you should restrict your diet to organic fruit and veg, wild fish and healthy grass-fed meats. Be careful of dehydration which can lead to constipation. Make sure that you drink plenty of water which also helps the activated charcoal to absorb into to your system. Try drinking a glass of water with a lemon slice every half hour during your cleanse.
To Eliminate Toxins
As well as being an effective way to cleanse your system occasionally, activated charcoal can be used in an emergency to treat cases of accidental pharmaceutical poisoning and overdose. It has been used effectively to treat cases of overdose from cocaine, opium, aspirin and morphine. It is absolutely essential that the correct amount of activated charcoal is taken as quickly as possible following overdose and no later than an hour following ingestion.
Of course, you should call the emergency services immediately because proper care and dosing is vital. According to experts, between 50 and 100 grams of activated charcoal is necessary to treat adults and between 10 and 25 grams is necessary for children depending on size and age.
Activated charcoal can also be used to treat cases of food poisoning especially when diarrhea and nausea are symptoms. Adults are advised to take 25 grams as soon as symptoms are felt while children should take 10 grams. Don’t forget that you need to drink a large amount of water when you administer activated charcoal.
For Alcohol Poisoning and Hangovers
Most of us know that hangovers are nasty and for those of us who find them an unavoidable part of life, there is great news in the shape of activated charcoal. While it does not actually absorb alcohol, activated charcoal helps to effectively remove various other toxins that contribute to hangovers and alcohol poisoning.
Activated charcoal helps eliminate chemicals and artificial sweeteners often found in alcoholic products and can reduce the risk of that horrendous morning after feeling. Again, it is imperative that you drink plenty of water for the charcoal to work properly while water will also help prevent dehydration.
There is also evidence that when you take activated charcoal while drinking alcohol, it may reduce blood alcohol levels significantly.
To Reduce Cholesterol
Believe it or not, there are studies that show activated charcoal can have a very beneficial effect on cholesterol levels. In one study participants who took activated charcoal at a dose of 8 grams 3 times a day experienced a significant reduction in total cholesterol levels as well as a 41% reduction in LDL cholesterol. At the same time, HDL or the good type of cholesterol rose by an average 8% during the 4 week period of the study. (2)
To Filter your Water
Good clean drinking water is obviously essential for good health. Unfortunately, the typical tap water that we drink is often full of various chemicals and other toxins. Activated charcoal can help purify your drinking water by removing these toxins and water filters using activated charcoal are available for home water systems and also in the form of counter-top models. Try to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of purified water each day to help your body stay healthy, maintain smooth digestion and lubricate your muscles and joints.
Potential Side Effects
Activated charcoal is generally considered to be safe for most people for topical application and consumption at the recommended doses.
If you have any pre-existing intestinal conditions like blockages, poor digestion, bleeding or recent surgery, you should be cautious because it may affect the manner in which the activated charcoal can react in the body.
Activated charcoal may also interfere with the way in which nutrients are absorbed and with certain prescription medications so speak to your doctor if you are in any way concerned.