The first thing to know about activated charcoal is that it’s not the same stuff you stack in your backyard grill, douse in lighter fluid, and then stick a lit match or lighter to in preparation for cooking your favorite meat, fish, or veggies. Activated charcoal is free of the toxins and chemicals in regular charcoal, and it is made from natural sources with the intent to be used for medicinal purposes.
How Is Activated Charcoal Created?
Activated charcoal is manufactured via the regulated decomposition of carbon-based substances, such as coconut shells or peat, per draxe.com. These compounds are then subjected to gases at high temperatures, a process which expands the surfaces, effectively “activating” the charcoal. What we end up with is a product that is porous making it effective for the adsorption – a type of binding – of drugs and toxins in your body.
What Is Activated Charcoal Used For?
Activated charcoal can be used to provide a variety of health benefits, but it is best known for its efficacy as a detoxification compound, even useful as dietary cleansing agent for cleaning unwanted chemicals and gas out of your digestive system. Doctors occasionally use it to treat people who have ingested certain kinds of poisons or suffered a drug overdose, and it is commonly used in hospitals to assist in alcohol overconsumption as well.
Once administered, per medicalnewstoday.com, activated charcoal essentially keeps your body from absorbing toxic substances, which instead bind to the activated charcoal (adsorption, as opposed to absorption) to be moved and ultimately expelled from your body. Activated charcoal’s binding characteristic has been found effective for treating poisonings that result from the ingestion from any of a wide variety of substances such as acetaminophen, phenobarbital, theophylline, or digitoxin.
It is usually recommended that an activated charcoal treatment be started within an hour of consumption, with the recommended initial dose, per medicalnewstoday.com, possibly being 40 times the amount of the ingested toxin or poison. As described at drhardick.com, activated charcoal functions much like a magnet, in that it attracts and binds the toxins to its porous surface area before releasing them from your body. This isn’t magic: the porous surface carries a negative electrical charge that attracts the positive-charged toxins, poisons, and gases to it. Your basic physics mixed with some chemistry.
The use of activated charcoal for detox purposes is not a newfangled process. It has been used for centuries, dating back to the ancient Egyptians, who also used activated charcoal for treating intestinal issues as well as other conditions such as epilepsy.
Activated Charcoal’s Other Health Benefits
For starters, it would behoove you to discuss proper use of activated charcoal with your physician, just to make sure you are using it correctly and for the right purpose(s). Following are some of activated charcoal’s other possible health benefits worth noting:
- Oral health. Activated charcoal, which is available in some types of toothpaste, can help whiten teeth and enhance your oral health, per draxe.com. It does this by altering the pH balance in your mouth, which aids in preventing cavities, bad breath, and gum disease.
- Soothe stomach distress. In the form of pills or powders, activated charcoal can ease intestinal discomfort related to the gas or bloating the occasionally accompanies the kind of meal that typically produces gas, per draxe.com.
- Treat drinking water. Activated charcoal embedded in water-purification devices is effective at removing heavy metals from the drinking water, per medicalnewstoday.com, such as that which comes out of your faucet.
- Chronic kidney disease. It is capable of removing an overabundance of phosphorous from the blood of those suffering from chronic kidney disease, per medicalnewstoday.com.
- Treatment of heavy burns. Activated charcoal has been used as a healing agent for burns in the military for many years. Per drhardick.com, it can relieve pain of such burns while helping to cleanse the burn area.
- Skin health. Soap of the activated charcoal form has been shown to penetrate below the skin surface, per drhardick.com, to draw out toxins and stagnant waste that can cause acne.
- Removal of bodily mold. It’s possible there is a form of mold existing in your body, and this toxic substance has been linked to depression, kidney and liver failure, heart disease, and diminished function of your immune system, per draxe.com. Activated charcoal to the rescue.
- Lower high cholesterol. Studies cited at draxe.com indicate that activated charcoal can lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and total cholesterol while raising good (HDL) cholesterol.