Activated charcoal: what it does and why you should try it
There’s something to be said for the popularity of detoxifying. Whether it’s skin products or juice cleanses, everywhere you look there’s a new way of doing it. Activated charcoal doesn’t sound like something you’d want in or on your body, but there’s a reason people are using it. That reason? It’s detoxifying.
Activated charcoal has a variety of popular uses: it can be used to relieve bloating and gas, for hair and skin, to treat insect stings and mild infections and even to whiten teeth. But how do you actually take it? Is it mixed with liquid? Taken as a pill? Now that you’re aware of the most popular uses of activated charcoal, it’s time to learn the best ways to take it safely in each case.
Relieve bloating and gas discomfort
If you’re taking activated charcoal to straighten out your stomach discomfort, you have a few options. You can take activated charcoal in pill, liquid and or powder form’the latter you’d mix into a non-acidic juice. Your best bet is taking activated charcoal in tablet form or in capsules. The tablets may be cheaper, but keep in mind that you can open the capsules and use the powdered charcoal for other purposes.
It’s suggested that you drink lots of water when taking activated charcoal supplements, in order to avoid constipation. Take them between meals, when your stomach is emptier’and staying that way for a while’so that the supplements aren’t depleting vitamins and nutrients you do want. Activated charcoal supplements aren’t to be taken daily as a vitamin, only as needed. Follow the directions on the bottle carefully, typically they’ll advise two capsules between meals.
Treats Alcohol Poisoning & Helps Prevent Hangovers
While activated charcoal does not adsorb alcohol, it does help quickly remove other toxins from the body that contribute to poisoning. Alcohol is rarely consumed in its pure form; mixers that include artificial sweeteners and chemicals are common. Activated charcoal removes 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.(5) Princeton University’s First Aider’s Guide to Alcohol indicates that activated charcoal is administered in some situations related to alcohol.(6) This includes if the individual is unconscious or showing signs of acute alcohol poisoning.
. Mold Cleansing
Most people don’t think about mold living in their bodies, but it can. 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.
Homes that have flooded, or even those with small leaks under a sub-floor or in the walls, can create an environment where mold can thrive. Poor ventilation contributes to the problem, and bathrooms, basements and laundry rooms are particularly prone to mold growth.
If there is visible mold in your home, it must be mitigated properly. It’s important to wear gloves and a protective mask to keep from inhaling toxic mold during cleanup. Baking soda, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil and borax can be used to clean mold off hard surfaces and keep mold from growing in the future.
If you or your family experience symptoms including wheezing, rashes, watery eyes, coughing or headaches that aren’t explained in other ways, your home should be evaluated for mold spore levels, even if no visible mold is detected. It can thrive behind drywall, under floors and in ventilation ducts.
Activated charcoal traps impurities in water including solvents, pesticides, industrial waste and other chemicals. This is why it’s used in water filtration systems throughout the world. However, it doesn’t 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.
Drinking water is essential to good health; however, typical tap water is toxic and laden with chemicals, toxins and fluoride. Ingestion should be limited whenever possible. Activated charcoal water filters are available for whole-home systems, as well as countertop models. Drink eight-10 glasses of pure water per day to help soothe the digestive tract, fight fatigue, keep organs operating, and provide lubrication for joints and tissues.
Emergency Toxin Removal
As mentioned above, one of the most common activated charcoal uses is to remove toxin and chemicals in the event of ingestion. Most organic compounds, pesticides, mercury, fertilizer and bleach bind to activated charcoal’s surface, allowing for quicker elimination, while preventing the absorption in the body.
Activated charcoal is also used in the event of an accidental, or purposeful, overdose of many pharmaceutical drugs and over-the-counter medications. It’s effective for aspirin, opium, cocaine, morphine and acetaminophen. It’s important that the proper amount is administered as quickly as possible — definitely within an hour of ingestion.
In the event of poisoning, call 911 immediately. Proper dosing is imperative. According to the University of Michigan Health System, 50 to 100 grams (not milligrams!) is used in cases of poisoning in adults and 10 to 25 grams for children.(8)
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 symptoms or when food poisoning is suspected, and children should be given 10 grams. Increase dosage as necessary. Remember, it’s essential that adequate water is consumed when activated charcoal is taken.
Remove stains from your teeth
Buying activated charcoal powder is probably the most economical way to do it. Because it weighs very little and goes a long way, buying it once should have you covered for quite a stretch. You can use the activated charcoal powder to remove plaque, whitening teeth in the process. It’s not pretty while you’re using it, but once the treatment is done, you’ll be glad you tried it.
To use activated charcoal for whiter teeth, you don’t need a special toothbrush, a regular one will do just fine. You might want to have a second toothbrush for this purpose, though, only because the activated charcoal may discolour the bristles on the brush.
Mix activated charcoal powder with water until it is a thick enough consistency that it will stay on your toothbrush (1 or 2 emptied capsules is likely what you’re looking at). Brush your teeth gently or even just dab the mixture onto your teeth. Wait 3 minutes before rinsing.
For a quicker route, add an emptied capsule of activated charcoal to a natural toothpaste of your choice and brush as usual. Rinse well after brushing.
An option that works without a toothbrush is to use equal parts water and powdered charcoal (about a teaspoon should do it) and mix. Swish the mixture in your mouth for a minute, then hold it in your mouth for about 5 more.
The activated charcoal is odourless and has almost no taste, but is gritty, so may be a bit of an adjustment to get used to. You can use this method daily to remove stains from teeth’but note that natural discolourations won’t go away with activated charcoal.
Deep clean and purify your skin and hair
You can buy ready-made activated charcoal skin and hair care products’including pore treatments and exfoliating scrubs’from larger pharmacies and health food stores. But, if you want to make your own, the same powder you bought for whitening your teeth will go a long way for your skin and hair. Here are some ways to try it:
To make a clarifying face mask, add a teaspoon (5 milligrams) of powdered activated charcoal to warm or lukewarm water, until a paste is formed. Add a teaspoon of honey (5 millilitres) or aloe gel and apply a thin layer of the mixture to your face. Rinse after 5 to 10 minutes.
To add a detoxifying element to shampoo, add a teaspoon (5 millilitres) or capsule of activated charcoal to the regular amount of shampoo you use; wash and rinse as usual. For light hair, an extra rinse will remove any discolouration from the charcoal.
For a deep cleaning body scrub, you can add activated charcoal powder’2 to 3 emptied capsules for this purpose’to your usual body scrub as use as directed.
Keep in mind that activated charcoal is not recommended for daily use, but rather to be used as you would use any other deep-cleaning product. Don’t use products with activated charcoal on dry hair or skin, as they are dehydrating and you don’t want to lose more moisture. Whenever trying out a new product, do a test first to make sure the product doesn’t stain. Though, not to worry, an activated charcoal hair product that leaves colour behind should wash out with a regular shampoo and still have benefits for your hair and scalp.
Active charcoal powder can also be used to create a paste to treat minor wounds, skin irritations, allergic reactions, insect bites and stings and to draw out minor infections (when mixed with baking soda). For more severe cases, seek medical treatment.