Everything You Need to Know About Activated Charcoal
It's been a few weeks since I've posted on here. I thought July was going to be slow but boy was I wrong! Things have already begun picking up at work in what is typically our slower season, but I am thankful for the busyness!
Who else has been hearing and seeing a lot about activated charcoal lately?! It's the latest trend that is all the rage and honestly I'm never one to be first to jump on a trend. So what is this stuff? how are people using it? and what do you need to know about it? Well I've done all the research for ya!
What is activated charcoal?
Activated charcoal is NOT to be confused with your regular charcoal used for grilling. Grilling charcoal is filled with toxins and chemicals and should never EVER be consumed!
Activated charcoal is is a fine black odorless and tasteless powder made from wood or other materials that have been exposed to very high temperatures in an airless environment. It is then treated, or activated, to increase its ability to adsorb various substances by reheating with oxidizing gas or other chemicals to break it into a very fine powder. Activated charcoal is pure carbon specially processed to make it highly adsorbent of particles and gases in the body's digestive system. (definition from the medical dictionary).
Now let's discuss the difference between ABSORB and ADSORB.
Absorption is the reaction of elements, including nutrients, chemicals and toxins, soaked up and assimilated into the blood stream.
Adsorption is the chemical reaction where elements bind to a surface.
Activated charcoal ADsorb's chemicals, toxins, and gas. It draws out all of the toxins in your body. Which is why it has been used for years as a safe and effective method to treat poisons and overdoses. Activated charcoal can also be used to treat gas and bloating issues. It does this by trapping toxins and flushing them out of the body. It's important to ALWAYS read the label when purchasing activated charcoal products! There are lots of other uses for activated charcoal as well, trendy food uses, beauty products and teeth whitening too.
There are SO many uses for activated charcoal! In fact most of you probably have it in your home right now and don't even know it. It's used quite frequently for water filtration. So that coffee maker or the Brita you might have in the fridge? Yep - chances are it has activated charcoal in it that draws out the impurities in your water.
I've listed a majority of it's uses below and I'll go into detail on as many as I can for ya!
Stomach Issues - Activated charcoal is great for treating gas, bloating and digestive issues. Due to the nature of it's elements it works by binding gas-causing products in your food. It is recommended to take 500mg after meals if you feel any discomfort.
Hangovers - Yep, you heard that right. Activated charcoal has proven to help prevent hangovers! It does not adsorb the alcohol but it DOES help to remove other toxins in your body such as if you had a fruity sugary drink or mixed your alcohol with mixers. Some studies have even shown that when taking activated charcoal while consuming alcohol it has shown to reduce your BAC. However I would NOT use this product as an excuse to drink and drive or think that it could be a solution.
Cleanse - Activated charcoal can be a great dietary supplement for a bodily cleanse. Our bodies can build up toxins from environmental issues like pesticides, mold, chemicals, etc. Activated charcoal has been known to promote a healthy digestive system. It can increase energy and mental function as well. For an effective cleanse it is suggested to take 10 grams an hour and a half before each meal for two days.
Skin + Body - Activated charcoal is used for teeth whitening, body wash, face masks, liquid soap, etc. When used for teeth whitening it adsorbs plaque and stains on your teeth. To use you can purchase activated charcoal powder and I recommend purchasing a separate toothbrush used solely for this use. Just wet and dip into the powder and brush. It's important to note that activated charcoal can stain your mouth and some artificial teeth, crowns or caps.
Charcoal masks are popular as it draws out the dirt and impurities in clogged pores, leaving you with soft and clean skin. It makes for great body wash and hand-washing as well.
Activated charcoal powder can also be used to treat bug bites, stings, etc. You can treat these by mixing one capsule of activated charcoal with 1/2 tsp of coconut oil and pat on the affected areas. You can reapply every hour or so if necessary. I would suggest wrapping with a bandaid or bandage as it can still cause stains.
IMPORTANT FACTORS TO NOTE WHEN USING ACTIVATED CHARCOAL:
-It can cause dehydration. Be sure to drink PLENTY of water when consuming activated charcoal.
It can and will STAIN! Watch out for countertops, floors, clothing and other surfaces.
Ingesting large amounts of activated charcoal has also shown to make birth control pills less effect when consuming close to the time you take your pill everyday. Be sure to never consume activated charcoal around the time you take your pill. It has shown to only effect the pill method as this is orally consumed unlike other birth control methods.
Activated charcoal is not always safe for everyone. Be sure to talk with you doctor before use especially if you are on other medication as it may have adverse reactions or effect the absorption of your medications and other nutrients and supplements.
It is also VERY important to know what you are buying. Be sure to read the labels, especial an activated charcoal dietary supplement, you want to make sure it is made from coconut shells. There are some forms that have artificial sweeteners added to make it easier to ingest, do not purchase these.
So what do y'all think?! Have you guys used activated charcoal? What beauty products have you used and what did you like/not like about them?! I'd love to hear from you guys!
Stephanie Grace Benton