Charcoal has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, and it seems that people have really been taking notice of it of late. Although it may sound odd to those who have not used it before (and no, it is not the same charcoal used for barbecuing), it really offers a plethora of benefits and uses. Read on below to learn about the many uses for activated charcoal, and how to use it properly.
1. Removes Poison
Activated charcoal can be used to treat poisoning by alcohol, food, and drugs, as well as poison from spiders. This type of charcoal when ingested will bind to the poison, and bring it out of the body.
2. Lowers Cholesterol Levels
While not the typical treatment for high cholesterol, activated charcoal is effective in lowering the levels of bad cholesterol in the body, and thus preventing/treating high blood pressure. If you’re interested in using activated charcoal for this purpose, talk to your physician to work out the right prescription for you.
3. Reduces Gas and Bloating
Activated charcoal can treat gas that is trapped in the GI system and causing bloat and discomfort. You can even take activated charcoal about 1 ½ hours before a meal (if you’re anticipating eating something that gives you gas/upset stomach) to prevent the discomfort. Because of the way it binds to gas and food, activated charcoal is also used as a general cleansing of the digestive system.
4. Improves Oral Health
Whether your teeth are stained from coffee, tea, wine, or smoking, activated charcoal can help remove these stains. If you brush your teeth with activated charcoal, these stains will be removed, and your teeth will be protected from new stains and plaque.
By balancing the pH level in your mouth, activated charcoal may also reduce your risk of gingivitis and cavities.
Simply dip your toothbrush in some activated charcoal, brush, then rinse thoroughly with water (do not swallow). Be aware that activated charcoal may stain veneers or caps because their surfaces are different from natural teeth.
5. Purifies Water
This is perhaps the most common use for activated charcoal. If you are a big camper or hiker, or may ever be in a situation where there is no clean water, you can find activated charcoal packets that you would place in the unfiltered water that will then produce clean, drinkable h2o. If you just want to filter your tap water at home, be sure you’re getting a filter that uses activated charcoal for the best results.
6. Healthier Skin
You can create an all-natural face mask using activated charcoal to treat blackheads and whiteheads and to improve the appearance of your skin overall.
Shopping for Activated Charcoal
You can find activated charcoal in a powder, liquid, or capsule form. If you’re using activated charcoal for any sort of ingestion (e.g. poison treatment), be sure that you are getting something made from a natural source, such as coconut shells. Follow the directions carefully on the package.
Words of Caution
Because activated charcoal is a binding element, what makes it so effective can also make it risky. Not only does it bind to the “bad” things in our systems, but it will bind to the nutrients as well. Because of this, activated charcoal should never be used excessively, and if it is ingested, be sure to replace any lost nutrients and fluid as soon as possible.
The Mayo Clinic has also warned that activated charcoal products with the sweetener sorbitol may cause vomiting and/or diarrhea, which is okay if you’re using it to draw out poison from the body or force a young child to throw something up, but may not be okay if you’re using it for something else.
Activated charcoal may also interact with certain medications, including, but not limited to hydrocodone, oxycodone, bromazepam, methadone, morphine, naltrexone, donepezil, and fentanyl.
As long as you use activated charcoal carefully and correctly, it can offer many benefits and uses for everyday life. Always be sure that you ask your doctor before using, and follow all directions very carefully when using activated charcoal.