The use of charcoal internally or externally seems like an odd thing to do, but hey, it is not your average, asun, boli or barbecue charcoal. Activated charcoal is a valuable natural treatment with many uses from detoxification to teeth whitening.
What is activated charcoal?
Activated charcoal comes from about thousands of years back. It was recorded in history as been used to clean water and treat various ailments. The first recorded use of charcoal for medicinal purposes was credited to the Egyptians. It appears the Egyptians used activated charcoal to absorb putrefying odors from rotting wounds and from within the intestinal tract. Presently, activated charcoal has been declared safe and effective by food and drug regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for acute toxic poisoning.
Activated charcoal can be made from several sources; it becomes activated when it is subjected to high temperature and gas which expands its surface area, thereby making it porous. It is used for body detoxification, the removal of toxins and chemicals from the body. Activated charcoal has other uses aside from detoxification.
Activated charcoal whitens teeth
Many people depend on activated charcoal as a means of whitening their teeth. It has been used as a teeth whitener for centuries. Activated charcoal functions by binding plaque, this confer it with the teeth whitening ability as reported by General Carbon Corporation. Water your toothbrush, add some activated charcoal on it, wet it as you would a paste, and you are good to go.
I know this may sound counterproductive, brushing your teeth and seeing a black charcoal smear on it. After brushing, rinse your teeth – it actually rinses easily – you find a set of shiny teeth, white and clean. Just a word of caution here, activated charcoal will stain your sink, keep soap handy to clean up your charcoal mess.
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Activated Charcoal mask
When applied to the face, activated charcoal is effective and absorbent on toxins and flushing out environmental pollutants. Furthermore, it absorbs excess oil and impurities from the skin and heals acne. It will make your skin look radiant, evenly textured and minimize pores on your skin.
How to make a Homemade charcoal mask
Purified water (2 tsp)
Bentonite clay (1 tsp)
Activated charcoal powder (1 tsp)
Almond oil (1 tsp)
1. Add a little quantity of water in a glass bowl
2. Sprinkle the clay on the water; allow it to absorb moisture for about 15 seconds.
3. Add the charcoal powder into the mixture and mix properly with a small rubber spatula.
4. After mixing, apply the mask copiously on your face. Allow it to sit in your face for about 10 minutes then wash off with soap and warm water.
Gas and Bloating
It can also be used to relieve uncomfortable gas and bloating. It functions by binding the gas-producing byproducts in the food which cause bloating. American Journal of Gastroenterology reported that activated charcoal can relief intestinal gas following a gas-induced meal. After a gassy meal, simply take activated charcoal with water.
Help prevent Hangovers
For those trying to prevent having a hangover, activated charcoal might be the answer. When alcohol and activated charcoal are taken at the same time, studies showed that activated charcoal significantly reduce blood alcohol concentrations.
Toxin and Chemical Removal
Activated charcoal prevents swallowed poison and drugs from being absorbed by the gut into the bloodstream. It is highly effective for many poison treatments, as documented by Poison Control. Furthermore, it is often used in emergency rooms for overdoses. It is important to note that, its effectiveness largely depends on how quickly it is administered after the poisonous substance has been swallowed. The earlier after a poison, drug or chemical is swallowed, the better it will work.
Treats mold in your body
You may not associate mold with your body, but toxic mold can cause cognitive decline, heart disease, depression, kidney and liver failure, as reported by Dr. Josh Axe. Additionally, it can cause vomiting, headaches, eye irritation, respiratory distress and severely impaired immune system functions.
If you have ever had damage in your home such as leaks in walls or under a sub-floor, your home may be an ideal ground for mold. Poor ventilation further worsens the problem, especially in laundry rooms, bathrooms, and basements. If you or members of your family are experiencing aggressive behavior, brain fog, irritability, activated charcoal is the way out says the Immune Matrix. Before going to bed, take activated charcoal to minimize the effects of mold toxin that are not excreted while you sleep.
Help reduce cholesterol
Studies have shown that activated charcoal can help reduce bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol. A study conducted found that total cholesterol decreased by 25% and bad cholesterol (LDL) decreased by 41%. In four weeks, Good cholesterol (HDL) increased by 8% in four weeks
Here’s what you can’t use activated charcoal for ;
For the above-mentioned uses, it is generally safe for most individuals. But it is important to note that that certain situation may affect how activated charcoal reacts in your body. The Summit Medical Group suggests that activated charcoal should never be used in the following situations.
If someone has swallowed gasoline or acids
If someone has taken Ipecac (a drug used to induce vomiting within 2 hours)
If someone has a blockage in the intestines
If someone is unconscious
If someone is coughing or choking
Additionally, the Mayo Clinic suggests activated charcoal should not be used if you are experiencing any of the following conditions:
Intestinal bleeding or a hole in the intestines
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Activated charcoal is considered safe for use short-term only. It should not be used for more than three to four days. Furthermore, please note that activated charcoal is not your regular charcoal used in the barbecue grill. BBQ charcoal is fortified with chemicals and is very toxic. BBQ charcoal is dangerous to consume.
How to take activated charcoal
Nutrients and supplements absorption can be interfered with by activated charcoal. It can also interfere with the absorption of prescribed medications. It is therefore important to take activated charcoal about 90 minutes to 2 hours before taking a meal, supplements or medications.
Additionally, before taking activated charcoal, talk to your pharmacist; ensure there will be no interaction with the prescribed medicines you are taking. Do not mix charcoal with chocolate syrup, sweets, milk or any dairy products to make it taste better. These foods will interfere with the normal functioning of the charcoal.
Where to buy activated charcoal
Activated charcoal can be found in most drugstores or at health and nutrition stores. Ensure you buy natural products made from coconut shells or other natural materials such as wood that has ultra-fine grains.
For emergency situations, it is essential to have activated charcoal at hand, particularly if you have kids and pets around. You may further contact a doctor or emergency room for advice.
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