Activated charcoal is also known as activated carbon. It is made from natural materials like wood or coconut shells. These are processed with super high heat, but not burned. It creates numerous microscopic pores (very tiny holes) which increases the surface area of the carbon particles. This is needed to make the charcoal great at something called adsorption. This makes it “activated.”
Activated charcoal is usually taken in by mouth to treat poisonings. It is also used for bloat (flatulence), high cholesterol, hangovers, upset stomach, and liver problems. Activated charcoal can be applied to the skin as part of bandages for helping heal wounds. It has been used since the 1800s to remove toxic substances from the body. This is the very definition of detoxification. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. This list includes the most important medications needed in a basic health system.
Activated charcoal is used in the form of a powder mixed with a liquid, usually water. It is a standby for emergencies in hospitals. It is a good antidote to counteract the effects of accidental poisoning or drug overdose. This is as long as the substance has not yet entered the bloodstream via the gut. The sooner activated charcoal is taken after swallowing the drug or poison, the better it works. The toxic molecules will bind to the activated charcoal as it works its way through your digestive tract. Then these will leave your body through your stool.
Research shows that activated charcoal may help reduce nitrogen-containing waste products. A low-protein diet combined with activated charcoal can benefit elderly people who have kidney disease. Studies found that activated charcoal preparations can benefit kidney function more than some chemical drugs.
The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research:
- blood disorders, blood purifier
- bronchial asthma
- inflammatory skin conditions
- irritable bowel syndrome
- liver disorders
- metabolic disorders
- ulcerative colitis
Evidence suggests that activated charcoal dressings may help decrease bacteria and speed healing time. This may have a greater benefit than some ointments or zinc paste. Because of these properties, activated charcoal may help patients with liver and kidney problems. Taking activated charcoal by mouth may lower cholesterol levels and reduce high levels of bile acids. Some searchers concluded that it can stop microbes and drugs that can cause diarrhea by binding them within its porous surface. They also noted that activated charcoal has few side effects.
A double-blind clinical trial was made on two population groups. One was in the United States, the other from India. Both differ in their diet and lifestyle habits, and this is known to cause a difference in the population microbes in their bowels.
The study was done to assess the effectiveness of activated charcoal in treating intestinal gas. The study demonstrated that oral activated charcoal can prevent heavy gas formation in the intestines that normally occur following a gas-producing meal.
How to take charcoal therapy:
- Store the powder in a resealable airtight container. As the powder strongly absorbs pollutants and becomes inefficient.
- When using, take a couple of pinches of the powder. Use the edge of a teaspoon or of a knife. Mix this into a glass of warm water and drink.
- If available, you may use the charcoal powder in a capsule form to make it easier to take.
- Take at least twice a day. The recommended schedule is once before bedtime and again upon waking up.
- Avoid taking this at least a couple of hours before and after you take your medicine, supplements, or other therapeutics. Activated charcoal will strongly adsorb them instead of being taken into the body.
There are some risks that you must watch out for in consuming activated charcoal. It can prevent your body from digesting food and absorbing nutrients. It can make medications and supplements less effective.
The side effects can include diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and blockage of the digestive tract. Almost anything taken by mouth can usually adsorb to activated charcoal.
What is Activated Charcoal Detox
Efficacy of Activated Charcoal in Reducing Intestinal Gas: A Double-Blind Clinical Trial
N K Jain, V P Patel, C S Pitchumoni
Am J Gastroenterol. 1986 Jul;81(7):532-5.
Wound Odor Management: Charcoal Wound Dressings