Activated charcoal is having a moment. People are using this dark, dusty substance for everything from teeth whitening and gut health to toxin absorption and better skin. But before you jump on the bandwagon, there are a few things you should know about using activated charcoal safely and effectively. In this blog post, we’re going to talk about all the things you need to know. From uses to dosage and side effects, we’ve got you covered. So, if you’re curious about this black powder, read on!
What is activated charcoal and how does it work?
Activated charcoal is an odorless, fine black powder that can be derived from many substances, the most popular being wood or coconut shells. (Not to be confused with the charcoal bricks people cook with. Don’t eat those). This type of charcoal is “activated” when it goes through a heating process at high temperatures, which removes impurities and reduces particle size. The result is a porous final product that binds to toxins.
When you consume activated charcoal, it can bind to toxic substances in your digestive system and stop them from being absorbed into your bloodstream, which makes it ideal for treating overdoses. Since the charcoal isn’t absorbed either, it carries everything it binds to out of the body. Pretty simple, right?
What are the benefits of activated charcoal?
Aside from being used to treat poisoning or overdoses, you might be surprised to learn that there are a lot of other things it can do. In fact, activated charcoal has a long medical history that dates back to ancient times. The main benefits are as follows:
- Improve your kidney function by binding to urinary toxins and slowing the progression of kidney disease.
- Whiten teeth by gently removing stains caused by coffee, tea, and wine.
- Alleviate bad breath and body odor.
- Manage overdoses and poisoning.
- Reduce bloating and gas by attaching to the substances in the intestine that produce it.
- Lower cholesterol by adsorbing bile acids and cholesterol and preventing their absorption by the intestine.
- Treat wounds by reducing in size of wounds faster
- Improve skin by removing impurities, toxins, and dead skin.
- Alternative to toxic deodorants.
Does activated charcoal help with flu or cold?
Although activated charcoal is often touted as a panacea, it will not cure you of the flu or a common cold. The reason is that stomach bugs are generally caused by viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections—rather than toxins or poisoning. Consequently, charcoal cannot prevent these pathogens from multiplying and causing symptoms.
However, charcoal may be able to with diarrhea, a common symptom of stomach bugs. It does this by absorbing the fluid content in stools, making them more solid and regulated.
How to use activated charcoal safely and effectively
Activated charcoal is a popular natural remedy for a variety of issues, from teeth whitening to digestive concerns. But before you start chomping on charcoal, it’s important to understand how to use it safely and effectively. Here are a few tips:
Start slowly: Activated charcoal can be harsh on the digestive system, so it’s important to start slowly. Start with a small dose and increase gradually as your body gets used to it.
Drink lot’s of water: It’s also important to drink plenty of water when taking activated charcoal, as it can cause dehydration if you’re not careful.
Make sure it’s natural: Choose activated charcoal that has been made from coconut shells or other natural sources. Synthetic charcoal can be contaminated with chemicals that you don’t want in your body.
Know your current medication: If you have any concerns about taking activated charcoal, talk to your doctor or pharmacist first. Don’t take activated charcoal within two hours of taking any medications or supplements, as it can interfere with their absorption.
Thoroughly rinse your mouth: If you’re looking to whiten your teeth with charcoal, be sure to rinse thoroughly afterward, as activated charcoal can be abrasive on tooth enamel.
Test masks first: If you have never used a charcoal mask before, it is recommended that you test the product on a small area of skin on your elbow. If you don’t have any allergic reactions within a few hours, then the product is probably safe for your skin.
Type of activated charcoal products and how to use them
Coconut Activated Charcoal Powder is a good bet for general use preferred for any and all reasons. I prefer this organic brand by Belle. For gas and bloating, adults can take from 500 mg to 1000 mg per day. If your looking to lower cholesterol, one study showed that taking 24 grams of activated charcoal for 4 weeks was affective at lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and raising the good cholesterol (HDL).
Teeth Whitening Charcoal Powder – To use AC to whiten your teeth, wet a soft toothbrush and dip it in the powder. Gently brush your teeth for one to two minutes. Pay special attention to the areas that show the most staining. Finally, rinse your mouth until the water you spit out is clear. Aside from using just the AC powder, you can also use this charcoal designed for teeth whitening, it includes the mineral Bentonite that mixes with your saliva to help rebuild enamel.
Charcoal Face Masks, Soap, and Body Scrubs – Activated charcoal products are an amazing way to scrub up, exfoliate, improve your complexion and boost skin health. I love this exfoliating detox scrub by Seaweed Bath Co, this Gender Bender soap by Perfectly Posh (made with Shea Butter) or this charcoal face mask (made with Dead Sea mud). However, it’s important to use activated charcoal sparingly, as it can also strip away healthy oils and lead to dryness. Also, if you haven’t used an AC scrub or facemask before, test a small bit on your arm to make sure you don’t have an alergic reaction. Before using your activated charcoal scrub or face mask, you should first cleanse your skin. This will help expose your pores as much as possible to the activated charcoal. After applying the product, you typically will want to let it sit for a few minutes, sometimes as long as 15 minutes, but be sure to check the product instructions. After the alloted time has passed, it’s then time to remove the charcoal scrub. To do so, use a gentle cleanser or just water and rinse it off.
Activated Charcoal Detox Bath – Add activated charcoal to your normal detox or Epsom salt bath to improve your skin and enhance the results of a detox. (And yes, toxins are removed via the skin when you sweat and hang out there unless you rinse and scrub them off. This is a fact.) To use your AC detox bath soak, add half a cup to your tub while the water is running. Soak in the warm water for at least 20 minutes. To remove all toxins from your body, be sure to wash well and rinse thoroughly in the shower after your bath.
Activated Charcoal Tablets – For people who want something easily portable that travels well (without the mess) activated charcoal tablets are a great alternative. You can carry them with you, keep them at the office, or in your car just in case. There is also a brand of activated charcoal gummies.
Activated Charcoal Deodorant – Healthy deodorant that supposedly works better than the toxic aluminum stuff? Sold.
Are there any negative side effects?
Adverse effects from taking activated charcoal are not common but may include vomiting and bowel blockages. Overall it is pretty safe when used properly; however, it has an insane capacity to adsorb (think about the size of a football field), so you’ll want to drink a lot of water while you’re taking it to avoid constipation and dehydration. You should expect that if used internally, your poo will be black, and for children, you would want to reduce the dosage – utilizing the smallest amount possible to achieve your goals.
Infants should not take activated charcoal and it goes without saying that … you should not inhale this.
Remember that taking activated charcoal may also reduce the absorption of certain medications. If you take other medications regularly, it’s best to speak to your doctor before taking this substance. Doctors also strongly advise against activated charcoal if you have any sort of internal bleeding, blockage, or holes in your gut.
Livingwhole articles aren’t meant to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider.