Activated Charcoal Benefits

Also Known As

Activated Carbon

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Activated Charcoal is pure carbon that has been heat treated with an oxidised gas, causing it to develop low volume pores, increasing the surface area available for the adsorption of toxins. It is traditionally made from coconut shells, peat, olive pits or sawdust.

The porous texture of Activated Charcoal is negatively charged, causing it to attract positively charged molecules such as toxins, chemicals and gases. Because the charcoal is not absorbed by the body, it safely carries the toxins bound to its surface out of the body.

When taking Activated Charcoal it is imperative to drink 4 litres of water per day. This helps to prevent dehydration, flushes out the toxins at a rapid rate and prevents the constipation that can sometimes be experienced as a side effect.

Activated Charcoal Benefits

Digestive Health

A healthy digestive system is the cornerstone of optimum health, with the use of Activated Charcoal helping to promote overall digestive health by the removal of toxins. Routinely cleansing the digestive system of toxins can boost immune function, alleviate joint pain, enhance nutrient absorption, increase energy levels and increase brain functioning.

Activated Charcoal can be used over 2 days to cleanse the digestive system by taking 10 grams prior to each meal. It is important to drink lots of water and to eat only organic fruits and vegetables, and if not vegetarian then grass-fed meat and wild fish during the cleanse.

Also effective for an upset stomach, Activated Charcoal can neutralise the bacteria and toxins that cause nausea, sickness and diarrhoea. In a 2017 review of recent studies on the use of activated charcoal for diarrhoea, researchers concluded that it might be able to prevent bacteria and drugs that can cause diarrhoea from being absorbed into the body by trapping them on its porous, textured surface.

It can also reduce bloating and excessive gas – the recommended dosage is 1 gram 30 minutes before and after a meal to alleviate discomfort. Working to combat embarrassing smells, Activated Charcoal can bind to hydrogen sulfide, which causes that "rotten egg" smell.

Detoxification

No matter how clean we keep our diet, the environment is unfortunately saturated with high levels of toxicity. A regular detox protocol can do much to mitigate the damage caused by highly processed foods, alcohol, prescription drugs and environmental pollutants.

Activated Charcoal is a hugely popular ingredient in many detox and cleanse programs due to its ability to bind to mycotoxins, bad bacteria, microbes, mould and heavy metals and excrete them safely from the body.

It is a great supplement to carry around with you as it can mitigate the effects of questionable restaurant food, junk food, toxic jet fuel (if a frequent flyer), alcohol and much more.

Anti-Aging

Studies show that Activated Charcoal can actually prevent many cellular changes that are associated with aging. It helps to prevent cellular damage to the kidneys and liver and supports healthy adrenal glands. A healthy adrenal system is necessary to help the body manage stress – a well-known cause of premature aging.

In one recent study, Activated Charcoal was shown to increase the average lifespan of older test animals by around 34 percent. It also slows the rate at which the brain becomes more sensitive to toxins. As people age, heavy metals and mycotoxins can build up and cause inflammation of the brain which inevitably leads to brain fog and “senior moments”. Activated Charcoal adsorbs (effectively neutralises) these compounds before they wreak havoc on the brain.

Kidney Health

Whilst healthy kidneys are well equipped to filter impurities out of blood, they can be given a boost by Activated Charcoal which promotes kidney function by reducing the amount of waste the kidneys have to filter. It has the ability to bind to urea and other toxins, making it especially helpful to people with impaired or weakened kidney function.

A 2010 study looked at the effectiveness of a low protein diet combined with Activated Charcoal as a therapeutic option for elderly end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients. The results concluded that:

“After one week and ten months of Activated Charcoal use, a significant decrease in blood urea and creatinine levels was observed and none of the patients required emergency dialysis during this time. In conclusion, in patients more than 80 years of age, a low protein diet and oral Activated Charcoal may control the uremic symptoms effectively.”

Teeth Whitening

There is much controversy over whether Activated Charcoal can whiten teeth, and if it is indeed damaging to the enamel due to its abrasive texture.

According to cosmetic dentist Gregg Lituchy, charcoal works to make the teeth seem whiter by removing surface stains. These stains come from black coffee, red wine, smoking and dark coloured foods.

Activated Charcoal Powder can be dabbed onto the teeth or mixed with water and swilled around the teeth for a couple of minutes as an alternative to brushing. This saves the enamel from the potentially abrasive effects of the charcoal and leaves the mouth feeling clean and fresh.

Skin and Hair

The benefits of Activated Charcoal also apply externally. Topical application draws out toxins from the pores of the skin, balances oily skin and helps to combat acne. It also soothes and heals bites, stings and other skin irritations.

Adding charcoal to a natural shampoo can gently detox the hair by attracting dirt and grease, without disrupting its natural moisture levels. Because Activated Charcoal pulls out dirt from deep in the hair, it removes residue leaving hair feeling lighter, shinier and bouncier.

Typical Use

Activated Charcoal can be taken before and after meals to aid digestion. 

Activated Charcoal can be mixed with water and a couple of drops of food grade peppermint essential oil for a refreshing mouthwash. It can also be added to natural toothpaste recipes to gently aid in tooth whitening. It can also be added to natural hair and skincare products. 

Folklore and History

As early as 1500 BCE the ancient Egyptians documented several kinds of charcoal for various therapeutic uses such as for putrifying wounds to remove odours and for problems in the gastrointestinal tract. The Egyptians also used charcoal as a topical antidote to poisoning. In around 3750 BCE they also made use of charcoal to smelt ores to create bronze. 

By 400 BCE the Ancient Hindus and Phoenicians had started using charcoal to purify water. The Phoenicians were noted for charring barrels to hold water on long sea voyages. This practice was adopted by many other seafarers throughout history, including Christopher Columbus, and continued until the 1800s.

The Greek physician and Father of Medicine Hippocrates recommended it for medical use as early as 400 BCE, for the relief of dizziness, epilepsy, chlorosis, anthrax, and that pregnant women eat clay and charcoal. The students of Hippocrates recommended the dusting of wounds with charcoal to remove their unpleasant smell. 

Native Americans used charcoal for abdominal gas pain hundreds of years before the arrival of the Europeans.

True Activated Charcoal was not invented until the beginning of the last century and activated carbon derived from coconuts was used in gas mask filters in the 1st World War.

Activated Charcoal
Precautions

Activated Charcoal is safe for most adults when used short-term. Side effects include constipation and black stools.

Activated Charcoal can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, vitamins and other supplements. It can also interfere with prescription medications. Take Activated Charcoal 90 minutes to two hours prior to meals, supplements and prescription medicine.