Charcoal may be something the Western World uses to fuel the fire, but it’s been used as a medicinal property for centuries. The Ancient Greeks, Chinese, Egyptians, and Chinese have all used it for various reasons, getting it from coconut shells, coal, wood, and much more.
Activated charcoal is extremely absorbent, whether you need to get rid of oils, chemicals, and toxins. It’s been called “black magic” because of its color but also its ability to cure all types of ailments, from bacteria to parasites.
This is something that has become extremely popular in the health sphere over recent months. You’ve likely seen pore strips and creams that include the ingredient, with many sharing how their skin feels softer and cleaner than ever before.
Before you jump on the bandwagon, make sure you know everything you can about it. Here’s a look at benefits, warnings, exactly how it works and more about activated charcoal.
What Exactly Is Activated Charcoal?
You now know the history, but what about what activated charcoal is now? The charcoal is a fine black powder that can be added to a variety of other ingredients. It’s most popularly taken from coconut shells, which can sound confusing at first.
Let’s be honest. This isn’t the charcoal you’re thinking of. It’s not the bricks that you use to fuel the fire. Those are toxic and will cause harm to your body. Activated charcoal comes from the likes of wood and coconut shells. It’s a natural property that helps to heal ailments and reduce infection risks. The charcoal is heated to a high temperature to make it “activated,” getting rid of any other substance already absorbed, so you get just the natural charcoal.
After being activated, the charcoal gains a negative charge. This is great for your body since a lot of the toxins in the skin and gut are positively charged. Think back to your days of playing with magnets. When you have a positive and a negative charge together, they are attracted to each other. So, the positively charged toxins are attracted to the negatively charged charcoal. The positive charges are pulled from the body.
Won’t it work the other way around? Not quite! The body doesn’t absorb the charcoal, so the positives can only go one way.
Where Can You Get Activated Charcoal From?
If you can’t get it from blocks of charcoal, where are the best places to get this stuff from? You could make it yourself, but this takes time and skill. The great news is there are plenty of other options already around your local stores and herbal shops. It’s already in plenty of foods and drinks on the market. It’s this ingredient that gives many foods and rinks their dark color.
Most of the time, you’ll find activated charcoal in detox drinks, whether they’re cocktails or smoothies. However, this isn’t the best way of getting your activated charcoal. While they’re easy, they tend to have a lot of sugars (both added and natural), so they can cause some weight gain. Also, if the charcoal hasn’t been sourced properly they can put your health at risk.
If you check out your local beauty store, you will find a lot of products that already have the activated charcoal. Face masks, tooth cleaners, shampoos, and cleansers are already packed with the active ingredient.
Want to make your own? That’s possible. Many health stores now sell the activated charcoal as a powder. You can then use other natural ingredients to create your own face masks and cleaners. You’ll know exactly what is going into your products when you do this to keep your skin and health safe.
Finally, there are charcoal pills available. They tend to be used for treating an overdose or poisoning, but you should watch out for overuse. These should always be used only by medical professionals to ensure good health.
What Are All the Benefits of Activated Charcoal?
Now it’s time to look at the activated charcoal benefits. Just how does your health benefit from the ingredient? This will depend on the way that you include the ingredient in your diet or health routine, but there are a number of noted benefits.
It can help to improve digestion, treat hangovers, lower bad cholesterol, and prevent the build-up of bloating and gas in the system. These are excellent benefits to help those with digestive complaints. You may find that you reduce constipation and reduce some digestive health symptoms, such as IBS and gassiness.
Some studies are showing some positive results in the kidney function. The urinary toxins make it hard for the kidneys to work effectively and can lead to problems like kidney disease. The use of activated charcoal reduces this risk. If you already have kidney disease, it can help to slow down the progression.
The charcoal can absorb the cholesterol and bile acids within the digestive system, preventing them from being absorbed into the body. This helps to lower cholesterol levels naturally and will aid in preventing the risks of cardiovascular diseases and other health problems linked to high cholesterol levels.
Of course, removing the toxins from the digestive system will also help to reduce the risk of stomach bugs and other health problems. The digestive system houses most of the immune system. If the digestive system is affected, then the immune system doesn’t work effectively. This is also the place that more bad bacteria grow than anywhere else in the body. So, you want to keep the digestive health in order and working effectively for good overall health.
Some studies also show that the activated charcoal may help to reduce heartburn and indigestion. Again, it helps to keep the whole digestive system working and reduces the stomach acid levels, preventing them from working their way up the wrong way.
But it’s not just your digestive health that benefits. There are also benefits to the skin and oral health.
Let’s just look at the teeth and oral health first. Despite its black coloring, activated charcoal is a cleaner. It can remove the stains on teeth from tea and coffee, helping to give you a brighter and whiter smile. The negatively charged particles also pull out the positively charged ones from the gums. The charcoal removes the bacteria from within the gums, improving your gum health and reducing the risk of gum disease.
Of course, by getting rid of bacteria, you can also improve the smell of your breath. It’s the bad bacteria that make the breath smell bad, so you instantly offer a good and natural smell.
The skin will also benefit from the removal of bacteria, toxins and excess oils. You can apply the charcoal directly onto your skin to encourage the absorption of everything coming through your pores. Your skin will look brighter and clearer than ever before, and you can reduce the build-up of acne.
There are also signs that activated charcoal may reduce inflammation within the body. The charcoal absorbs the cytokines, which lead to inflammation and can cause many health problems. Your skin will be clearer, and you’ll suffer less chronic pain.
Using Activated Charcoal Effectively
Now you know what it does, it’s time to look at all the ways that you can use the activated charcoal. The best option is to get the powder and use it in your own products. Avoid the charcoal pills, unless you are medically trained. They can lead to other health problems. It’s also worth avoiding the charcoal added to smoothies and ice creams, as they don’t always work effectively.
One of the most common ways is to use the activated charcoal directly on your skin or teeth. You can use it to brush your teeth instead of normal toothpaste. The charcoal will pull out the bacteria and plaque, leaving your teeth and mouth healthy and smelling good.
The powder can also be added to your own recipes and ingredients. You can create scrubs and soaps to use directly on your skin. Since the product is natural, it doesn’t cause a clog in your drains or damage to the environment in the way micro-beads do.
There’s nothing wrong with buying activated charcoal masks and cleansers already available. Just check all the ingredients that you’re getting natural ingredients in your products. This will help to fully look after your skin.
Won’t You Strip All the Natural Minerals?
While there are many bad toxins and minerals in the body, there are also a lot of good ones. If you use activated charcoal, there are many worries that you will strip the body of all the natural and good minerals from the body.
This has been a debate over the years. Many people fear using it in case they upset the full balance of minerals and hormones, but recent studies have shown that there may be more positives to using the charcoal than the negatives. The healthy minerals remain within the body and it’s just the bad stuff that is pulled out. This is likely due to the charge of the healthy minerals.
Remember your magnet classes? Negative charges won’t attract to one another. Since good nutrients are negatively charged, they’re repelled by the negative charge in the charcoal, so remain in the body.
Of course, there are steps you can take to protect your health and keep the nutrients in your body. One of the best things is to use the charcoal when your stomach is at its emptiest. Opt for it in between your meals or at least 30 minutes before you start eating. If you take other supplements, take the charcoal 30 minutes or more before taking them.
If you take other medications, talk to your doctor about taking activated charcoal. The medications are positively charged and can be pulled out of your body. There’s no point in even taking the medications, but they could be extremely important to your health.
Side Effects of Using Activated Charcoal
In most of the cases, the use of activated charcoal is safe. Even pregnant women can continue using it on the skin or for the teeth. However, there are some side effects that you should be aware of to make sure you understand the difference between a side effect and a negative health issue.
One of the biggest problems people find is dehydration. This can cause them to become constipated or suffer from excessive thirst. You can avoid this side effect by drinking more liquids while taking the charcoal.
When you do pass stools, you may find they look black at first. This is your body getting rid of the toxins and the charcoal changing the color of your stools. You may want to reduce the dosage if you find this happens, as it is often a sign that your body is getting rid of excess activated charcoal.
While children can use activated charcoal, they should only use a little. It’s also important to talk to your doctor before including it in the diet. It should never be used for infants.
Buying Good Activated Charcoal
You will likely think about turning to the internet for your activated charcoal. While this can be a good place to shop around, there are people selling mislabeled products. It’s essential that you use your head before you buy anything.
Don’t just work off the price or the images. Consider the list of ingredients of anything you buy to make sure there is nothing alarming added. If somewhere doesn’t include a list of ingredients, avoid at all costs. Companies that are reputable will have no problem sharing the ingredients they add to their products.
You should also talk to your doctor about buying activated charcoal. Your doctor will likely have trusted sources and help you determine the best type of activated charcoal to buy for your needs.
While activated charcoal has its benefits, there are side effects. Discuss this with your doctor, especially if you are taking other medications. This will help to protect your health in all ways.