The Truth About Activated Charcoal
No, this is not the same charcoal you use to cook on your grill. While it’s similar, there is a distinct difference. WebMD.com explains:
“Common charcoal is made from peat, coal, wood, coconut shell, or petroleum. ‘Activated charcoal’ is similar to common charcoal, but is made especially for use as a medicine. To make activated charcoal, manufacturers heat common charcoal in the presence of a gas that causes the charcoal to develop lots of internal spaces or ‘pores.’ These pores help activated charcoal ‘trap’ chemicals.”
The process that makes this ancient, natural medicine effective is called adsorption (not absorption), in which toxic substances attach to the surface of the charcoal.
Dating back to the Egyptians, activated charcoal has most commonly been used to stop poisons from spreading within the body—think poisonous spider bites, food poisoning, or ingestion of toxic chemicals. While it’s not often found in people’s homes, hospitals regularly use this for patients with these ailments.
If you do make a space for it in your medicine cabinet, however, this multitasking charcoal can help you whiten your teeth, relieve gas and more. Here’s why you should keep this on hand and how to use it effectively.
Activated Charcoal Removes Accidental Toxins
Whether your little one has a spider bite or you ate bad food, activated charcoal can help. Activated charcoal is not digested when you eat it; instead, it simply attracts the poison or toxins, which attach to its surface. The charcoal then stays in the GI tract until you have a bowel movement, taking the toxins with it.
For a non-poisonous spider bite, activated charcoal can bind to harmful particles in wounds and speed up the healing process. With its antibacterial effects, you can put charcoal on a cool, wet towel and rest it on the affected area. This will ease the symptoms significantly. For a poisonous spider or snake bite mix 1 to 2 tablespoons with an 8 ounce glass of water, drink it quickly (within 30 minutes of the incident) and immediately call for medical backup.
Activated Charcoal Detoxes Your Body
You don’t have to get a spider bite to use activated charcoal. You can use it regularly as a method of detoxing your body. Most natural health stores, where you would normally buy supplements, have this on the shelf in both capsule and powder form. Follow directions on the packaging for dosage and recommendations.
Activated Charcoal Whitens Your Teeth
If you’ve tried every teeth whitening trick with no successful outcomes, try again. Activated charcoal pulls toxins from your mouth, which helps to lift those off-white stains you can’t seem to get rid of. While the black powder does turn your teeth temporarily black, it washes off to reveal a set of bright white teeth. In this process, charcoal may help strengthen enamel, improve gum health, as well as remove bacteria and toxins from your mouth eliminating bad breath and helping to prevent cavities.
To whiten your teeth, dip a wet toothbrush into the powdered form of activated charcoal and brush it on your teeth in circles for 2 minutes. Spit, rinse and smile.
Activated Charcoal Cures a Stomach Ache and Relieve Gas
Gas and stomach pain happens when bacteria are being decomposed after eating things like beans, for example. Activated charcoal goes into your digestive tract and attracts the gas molecules, which then stick onto the charcoal and get carried out when you have a bowel movement.
Most docs recommend taking activated charcoal at least 30 minutes before each meal, and some also discourage supplementation for more than 3 consecutive days.
Activated Charcoal Tips
- Never use this to remedy a poisonous bite without following up with your doctor or another medical professional. While it’s effective at eliminating toxins, it’s important to make sure you’re removed everything and don’t need follow-up treatment.
- Activated charcoal stains most things it touches, according to WellnessMama.com. Be careful not to spill the powder, and clean your sink well after spitting it out.
- You can purchase this in powder or capsule form. Powder is best used for bites and teeth whitening while the capsule is best for when you need to eat it in the case of a poisonous bite or are detoxing. You can mix 1 to 2 tablespoons with an 8 ounce glass of water if you don’t have the capsules on hand as well.
Activated charcoal is a simple, natural solution to many common ailments, and as such, deserves a spot in your medicine cabinet. From stomach aches to spider bites, make sure you have this natural wonder on hand.