Activated Charcoal: The life-saving charcoal

Be it making markings, being a source of energy in putting together a well-grilled meal or making complete mess of clothing, charcoal comes in handy. Let's talk about another form of this well used material, 'Activated charcoal'.

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 does not reabsorb them. Activated charcoal is made by burning carbon-rich materials, such as wood, at very high temperatures to create charcoal. The resulting product is a black, odorless powder. The charcoal is then "activated" through a special process that makes lots of holes and crevices on the charcoal particles to increase the surface area and available binding sites. 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 while Adsorption is the chemical reaction where elements bind to a surface.

Uses of activated charcoal include:
1. Whitens Teeth: It adsorbs plaque and microscopic tidbits that stain the teeth while promoting good oral health by changing the pH balance in the mouth, helping prevent cavities, bad breath and gum disease.

2. Alleviates Gas and Bloating: It works by binding the gas-causing byproducts in foods that cause discomfort. A study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology recommends 500 milligrams one hour prior to a typical gas-producing meal, with a full glass of water. This should be followed with an additional glass of water immediately after the meal to help get the charcoal into your system, where it can bind with gas-producing elements.

3. Treats Alcohol Poisoning (and Helps Prevent Hangovers): While activated charcoal does not adsorb alcohol, it does help to quickly remove other toxins from the body that contribute to poisoning. Consumption of alcohol in its pure form is rare; mixers that include artificial sweeteners and chemicals are common. Activated charcoal treats poisoning by removing 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.

4. Mold Cleansing: Toxic mold causes depression, kidney and liver failure, decreased brain function, heart disease, eye irritation, headaches, vomiting, impaired immune system function and severe respiratory distress. If there is visible mold in your home, it must be mitigated properly. It is important to wear gloves and a protective mask to keep from inhaling toxic mold during cleanup. You can use activated charcoal, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil and borax to clean mold off hard surfaces and prevent mold from growing in the future.
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5. Water Filtration: Drinking water is essential to good health; however, typical tap water is toxic and laden with chemicals, toxins and fluoride. Activated charcoal traps impurities in water including solvents, pesticides, industrial waste and other chemicals. However, it does not trap viruses, bacteria and hard-water minerals. According to a study published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association, activated carbon filters (activated charcoal), removes some fluoride. Avoiding fluoride and detoxing from it is important for oral health, proper immune system functioning, and healthy kidneys and liver. Activated charcoal water filters are available for whole-home systems, as well as countertop models.

6. Emergency Toxin Removal: Activated charcoal works as an antidote in the event of an accidental, or purposeful overdose of many pharmaceutical drugs and over-the-counter medications. Most organic compounds such as pesticides, mercury, fertilizer and bleach bind to activated charcoal’s surface, allowing for quicker elimination, while preventing the absorption in the body. It is effective for aspirin, opium, cocaine, morphine and acetaminophen overdose. It is of great importance that the proper amount is administered as quickly as possible — definitely within an hour of ingestion.

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 diarrhea and nausea symptoms or when food poisoning is suspected, and children should be given 10 grams. Increase dosage as necessary. Remember, this should be taken under close monitoring by a medical personnel. In the event of poisoning, call 911 immediately.

7. Digestive Cleanse: Activated charcoal helps promote a healthy digestive tract by removing toxins that cause allergic reactions, oxidative damage and poor immune system function. Removing the toxins from the system 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 is important to routinely cleanse the GI tract to support overall health and wellness. This also prevents premature aging and reduces cholesterol in the body.

Activated charcoal is safe for most adults when used short-term. Side effects of activated charcoal include constipation and black stools. More serious, but rare, side effects are a slowing or blockage of the intestinal tract, regurgitation into the lungs, and dehydration. It is very important to consume adequate amounts of water in tandem with activated charcoal to prevent dehydration. This helps to flush out the toxins quickly and prevents constipation. Pregnant women and people with gastrointestinal blockage should not use activated charcoal except under close medical monitoring.

Activated charcoal uses extend beyond internal applications. For external treatments, it is effective at treating body odor, acne and relieving discomfort from insect bites, rashes from poison ivy or poison oak, and snake bites. It is also great for spot treatments.

Activated charcoal is not the same as our cooking charcoal. Well, thought to re-emphasize that before some enthusiast uses the wrong charcoal. You can drop other uses of activated charcoal in the comment section and let's all learn.



She is a passionate writer who devotes time and resources to inform and educate on various health issues. The healthwise is her way of giving back to the society.