Though long used for a variety of purposes, activated charcoal still isn’t something that’s well known – but it’s truly amazing, and we’re here with ten reasons you should be sure you always have some in your home.
Charcoal is what results when coal or wood are burned, but it becomes “activated charcoal” when high temps and an activating agent expand the charcoal’s surface area.
Egyptians and Sumerians were the first to use it medicinally, and it’s uses have only expanded since, including as an anti-poisoning agent.
Consider the following ten reasons you should have it around:
1. Anti-Poisoning Agent
This is how activated charcoal is best known, as emergency rooms use large doses of the stuff to counteract some types of poisoning. Activated charcoal, which is a fine, black powder that’s tasteless and odorless, has been estimated to reduce poisonous substances by as much as 60% – working through the entire length of the stomach as well as the small and large intestines. Research has shown that it’s often more effective than stomach pumping. Additionally, a 1981 study, reported in Prevention magazine, confirmed what Native Americans have believed for centuries – it cuts down on the amount of gas produced by beans and other gas-producing foods, as well as absorbing the excess gas and bacteria that form the gas.
2. Bloating and Gas Relief
Activated charcoal can be taken in the form of a pill, powder or liquid – if you take it in powder form, it should be blended in a non-acidic juice, but most recommended taking it in capsule or tablet form for this purpose. The dosage generally advised is two capsules in between meals. A 1986 study, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, showed that activated charcoal was able to prevent intestinal gas following a typical gas-producing meal, so if you know ahead of time you might experience issues, you can take it as a preventive measure too. Take 500 milligrams an hour before a gas-producing meal, with at least 12 ounces of water. Follow with another glass of water immediately after, which helps the charcoal get into your system where it’s able to bind with gas-producing elements.
3. Bug Bite Relief
Activated charcoal is also an excellent remedy for bug bites, be it a bee sting, mosquito bite, fire ant bite, spider bite or what have you. If you’re stung by a bee or bit by a mosquito, simply mix a capsule of the activated charcoal with a half teaspoon of coconut oil. Dab the mixture onto the affected area, reapplying it once every half hour until the discomfort and/or itching is gone. As activated charcoal tends to stain anything and everything nearby, be sure to wrap up the area using a bandage.
If you’ve been bitten by a spider, like a brown recluse or black widow, use a larger bandage and more activated charcoal to help prevent tissue damage before you can get to a doctor. To do so, create a wrap using material that’s large enough to go around the affected area twice. Dab the coconut oil/activated charcoal onto the fabric and then wrap it up and secure it with bandages. Reapply every two to three hours and rinse well each time in between applications.
4. Cure a Hangover
While activated charcoal doesn’t absorb alcohol, it does help speed removal of other toxins from the body that contribute to alcohol poisoning, and those horrible hangovers that come with imbibing too much. As alcohol is rarely consumed in its pure form, with things like mixers often including artificial sweeteners, chemicals are other substances, activated charcoal can help remove those toxins to cure a hangover. If you take activated charcoal with alcohol, some studies have shown that it can significantly reduce blood alcohol concentrations. Princeton University’s First Aider’s Guide to Alcohol notes that activated charcoal is administered in some situations related to alcohol too, such as when an individual shows signs of acute alcohol poisoning or is unconscious.
5. Cleansing Toxic Mold’s Effects
If you’ve noticed symptoms of toxic mold, it’s also important to detox using activated charcoal. Take one activated charcoal capsule just before bedtime, to soak up the effects of mycotoxins, and continue to do so until symptoms subside. If they continue to linger, be sure to visit your healthcare provider.
6. Clearing your Complexion
Activated charcoal uses extend far beyond internal applications. You can also use it as a face “detox” to clear up acne and encourage a more beautiful complexion. In fact, it’s an excellent cheap alternative to pricey face masks.
To make it, all you need is:
- The powder of 1 capsule of activated charcoal
- 2 tsp aloe vera gel (here’s how to make your own)
- 2 drops tea tree oil
Mix all of the ingredients well and then gently smooth it across your face. Allow the mixture to dry, and then rinse it off. The activated charcoal will bind with any environmental toxins and dirt that contribute to acne. You can also use this as a spot treatment for breakouts.
7. Eliminating Tooth Stains
Activated charcoal works to whiten teeth by absorbing plaque and microscopic compounds that can stain them. It also promotes better oral health by preventing gum disease, bad breath, and cavities as it changes the pH balance in the mouth. Using activated charcoal will temporarily make your teeth and mouth very black, it has the same effect as it does when it’s ingested: it pulls toxins from the mouth and removes stains. The black will wash away quickly, leaving your teeth clean and smooth as if you’ve just had a professional cleaning, and after doing this a few times, they’ll be noticeably whiter too.
Here’s how to do it. (You can use your regular toothbrush, but you may want to have a second one as the activated charcoal can discolor the bristles).
- Mix some activated charcoal powder with enough water to achieve a consistency that’s thick enough so that it will stay on your toothbrush. If you don’t have the powder, you can empty 1 to 2 capsules instead.
- Dip your toothbrush into the mixture, and then gently brush your teeth with it. Alternatively, you can combine the activated charcoal with a natural toothpaste and brush like you usually would.
- Leave the paste on your teeth for about 3 minutes, and then thoroughly rinse.
Keep in mind that activated charcoal will only work on surface stains that it can bind to, like those from coffee, tea and wine, and not natural discolorations in your teeth.
8. Filtering Water Impurities
You may have noticed that many water filtration systems use activated charcoal to help eliminate impurities in the water, as it traps solvents, industrial waste, pesticides and other chemicals. While it doesn’t trap hard water minerals, bacteria or viruses, systems that use activated carbon filters, AKA activated charcoal, can remove some fluoride from your water if that’s something you want to avoid.
9. Prevent Premature Aging
Activated charcoal can also be used as an anti-aging treatment as it can help support healthy adrenal glands as well as prevent cellular damage to the liver and kidneys. As it’s so important to cleansing toxins and chemicals from your body on a regular basis, this may be one of the most essential things you can add to your regular health and beauty routine. Detoxing with activated charcoal helps cleanse the body inside and out by helping it flush out chemicals and toxins that lead to damage.
To use activated charcoal to prevent premature aging, simply take two capsules each day following exposure to toxins, like those found in non-organic foods, or eating a heavy meal. It will help improve overall health and well-being, reduce problems like brain fog, improve the health of your digestive tract and support healthier liver and kidney function.
10. Promote Better Digestion
If there are toxins in your digestive tract, it can lead to oxidative damage, a weaker immune system, allergic reactions and other health problems. But by eliminating these toxins with activated charcoal, you can boost your energy levels, improve mental function and relieve joint pain. As there are so many toxins in our environment, from the chemicals in the water we drink to pesticides on foods and pollutants in the air, it’s important to routinely detox the digestive tract for good overall health and wellness.
To detox with activated charcoal, you’ll need to follow a few steps. The first step is to take 10 grams of activated charcoal about an hour and a half before each meal, for two days. During this cleansing period, consume only organic fruits and veggies, wild-caught fish and grass-fed meats. If you become constipated, that’s a sign that you’re becoming dehydrated, so be sure to up your water intake, ideally drinking a 12-ounce glass of warm or room temperature water with a squeeze of organic lemon and a bit of raw honey every 30 minutes until constipation has subsided.