Activated Charcoal is a fine black powder that is made using a variety of different plant bi products. The most common forms it comes in these days include coconut shells, olive pits, coal or peat. When used for natural healing purposes, it is important that a coconut version is used.
In order for it to become “activated” the material used needs to be heated to a very high temperature. The heat actually causes the internal structure of the material to be altered. The size of the pores in the material are reduced whilst it's surface area becomes larger. As a result of this the charcoal becomes more porous compared to the charcoal you would use on a barbecue, for example.
How May Activated Charcoal Be Of Benefit?
If toxins, chemicals, problem foods, gas or poisons are allowed to build up within the body, it can lead to a variety of health problems. We are exposed to this type of thing all day every day, but if our body isn’t able to sufficiently rid itself of these problems, then it can lead to numerous symptoms (including skin issues, bloating, bad breath, IBS, inflammation and much more).
Activated Charcoal can, simplistically, help your body to rid itself of unwanted substances. Because the texture of this compound is porous, as well as containing a negative electrical charge, any positively charged molecules (such as gases and toxins) are attracted to it, and ultimately more effectively expelled from the body (thus often providing a huge amount of symptom relief).
9 Benefits of an Activated Charcoal Supplement
1. Digestive Health (in particular, gas, bloating and discomfort)
For best effects, you would take the supplement around an hour prior to eating any gas producing food (though taking after the food, if you notice you need it, can still be effective).
For this reason it can be especially useful to take when going out for a meal in a restaurant or if you intend to eat some junk food, or if you are going to be exposed to gluten (especially if you feel you respond badly to gluten, which many people do).
2. Detoxification of Toxins
Activated charcoal supplementation may help your body to remove many of the toxins that we are exposed to each day (and which can be adversely affecting your health). Things such as mercury, heavy metals, mould and parabens (to name just a few) are toxins we are commonly exposed to and which put a huge strain on the body.
Many people suffer with the effects of these kinds of toxins unknowingly. For example, mould is present in a huge number of homes, even if it’s not necessarily visible, and it can lead to many symptoms and serious health issues.
3. Bad Breath and Odour Problems
Activated charcoal has been shown to help to relieve bad breath and body odours, by allowing the body to more effectively expel the bacteria and toxins that can lead to these issues.
What’s more, anyone who suffers from the condition known as TMAU (Trimethylaminuria) may find activated charcoal supplements useful. People with TMAU accumulate and excrete in the urine TMA (Trimethylamiine) – a fish smelling compound. This compound, however, is also found in their sweat and breath and can lead to body odour and bad breath. Studies show that taking a supplement of activated charcoal may help with this by helping to expel compounds like TMA from the body, because they readily bind to it.
4. Cholesterol Levels
Studies have shown that people who suffer from high cholesterol levels may find that activated charcoal supplementation is beneficial for reducing bad cholesterol whilst increasing good cholesterol. This is because the cholesterol, and bile acids that contain cholesterol, found in the gut will bind to the supplement. In turn this prevents the body from absorbing them.
In one study the patients were asked to take activated charcoal each day for 4 weeks. In these patients their LDL (generally considered bad) cholesterol levels were reduced by 29-41%, whilst their HDL (generally considered good) cholesterol levels increased by 8%.
Aging is obviously a natural part of getting older, but we often accelerate that aging by exposing our bodies, and our vital organs, to a multitude of toxins. By helping to flush the body of these toxins, it can help to slow down the aging process, and assist some of our most important organs. In this regard, activated charcoal may therefore also help support both liver function and kidney function by lowering the number of waste products that need to be filtered by them.
6. Alcohol / Hangovers
If you are drinking alcohol, activated charcoal may help to reduce hangovers, and is sometimes used to help with alcohol poisoning. Whilst it doesn’t actually absorb and expel alcohol itself, one of the major causes of hangovers isn’t necessarily just the alcohol but rather all of the other mixers, sweeteners, artificial colours, sugars, etc that are mixed into the alcohol that is drunk. Its these that activated charcoal can help remove - leaving you (potentially!) a little better the following morning!
7. Mood / Irritation
If you feel you are starting to feel moody or irritable and aren’t sure why, then activated charcoal can often be worth using. Mood / emotional changes can often be due to food sensitivities or toxin exposures that affect signals to the brain.
8. Teeth Whitening
In powdered form activated charcoal can be used to help with teeth whitening.
You do need to be careful when doing this as it can very easily stain clothes, carpet and furniture, as well as any crowns, veneers or caps on your teeth.
You would normally put a small amount of the powder on your toothbrush and brush the teeth as normal, rinsing well with water afterwards. This is most effective done 2-3 times per week.
As only a small amount is needed, its normally easiest to just break open a capsule of activated charcoal supplement and use the powder inside.
9. Jet Lag
Its thought that activated charcoal can sometimes help with reducing the symptoms of jet lag, as well as helping to expel the toxins (and poor food!) often experienced on aeroplanes.
Is It Safe?
In most cases, a good quality activated charcoal is considered to be extremely safe to use, with side effects being extremely rare.
Potential issues can include constipation, black stools, nausea or vomiting (but these are very rare). Most of these tend to occur when the supplement is used on a long-term basis, whereas we generally recommend more adhoc use, in specific situations (detailed further below).
Those people who are taking medication, should consult their doctor before using (again, especially if using regularly on a long-term basis), and preferably those who are on medication should take the activated charcoal at least 2 hours apart from the meds.
The Mayo Clinic lists the following medications as having possible interactions with activated charcoal…
· Morphine Sulfate Liposome
· Mycophenolate Mofetil
· Mycophenolic Acid
As you can see above activated charcoal may prove extremely beneficial to us in a variety of ways. If you are faced with any of the above issues, then taking an activated charcoal supplement is something worth considering. Obviously (disclaimer!) it may be worth checking with your doctor prior to taking any, especially if you are on medication.
* Results Not Typical. All discussion about results on this website are based on individual findings where each circumstance is completely unique and may not be similar or the same as you. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information on this Web site or in emails is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your doctor.