Activated Charcoal Benefits for Teeth, Skin, Digestion, and More
There are tons of activated charcoal benefits, including everything from aiding in digestion and acne to improving your water and air quality. This sooty black powder is one of the best ways to remove toxins from your body.
Chinese medicine has been using it for thousands of years, but modern medical doctors also consider it’s adsorbent (different from absorb) properties to be a powerful poison antidote and detoxifier (1).
It has become trendy in the wellness and beauty industries lately, but does it really work like people say it does?
Activated charcoal is made from the same stuff you barbecue with, but it’s processed differently. It’s carbon-made from wood, peat, or other carbon sources. Coconut shells are the best source when using it for healing purposes.
Whatever the manufacturer uses to make it, it’s processed into a highly porous black powder that can trap harmful substances in its teeny tiny pores. The charcoal molecules bond with the toxins so they can be flushed out of the body, or washed off if used on the skin.
It has some really cool health and beauty benefits that everyone can benefit from!
Is Activated Charcoal Safe to Use?
It probably seems a little weird to take charcoal as a supplement or rub it on your skin, so before you spend your valuable time reading any further, let’s chat a little about safety.
It’s completely safe and effective for most people, but there are a few things to keep in mind before using it. Activated charcoal can limit your body’s ability to absorb other medications and supplements, so take it separately from other pills.
If you’re pregnant or have a medical condition, it’s best to check with your doctor before you use it internally.
Activated Charcoal Benefits When Taken Internally
It’s great for digestion.
If your belly has that “not so fresh” feeling, activated charcoal can give you some relief (2). It traps food particles much bigger than itself, so if you’ve eaten something that might give you gas, nausea, or diarrhea, it will adsorb the yucky bits and make it easier to flush them out of your system.
The American Journal of Gastroenterology published a study that compared how activated charcoal affected gut flora on people in India and the U.S.. They found that no matter what type of food everyone ate, it reduced the amount of gas, cramps, and discomfort people experienced (3).
Great news for you and the people nearby you when the burrito you had for lunch goes south.
It can save your life in an emergency detox situation.
Hospitals have been using it as a poison antidote and drug overdose treatment for a very long time. Remember, it binds to toxins, which keeps the body from absorbing it, so medical staff can induce vomiting or flush the toxin out another way.
It’s a must-have for any natural medicine cabinet.
Speaking of “emergency detox,” it’s also really helpful to have for that weekend in Vegas when you’ve had a little too much fun and you don’t want to wake up feeling like your head’s been used as a kick drum. It’s a fantastic hangover cure.
Princeton University even references activated charcoal in its First Aider’s Guide to Alcohol publication as a useful tool when someone drinks too much, even if they’re already unconscious (4).
It lowers cholesterol levels.
While there aren’t a lot of studies done around this, there are plenty of stories floating around about people getting off their cholesterol meds after using it in supplement form.
One study published in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology shows that cholesterol levels decreased an average of 25% in patients using activated charcoal without changes to their food consumption (5). Pair using activated charcoal with a cholesterol-busting diet, and you’ve got a great way to get your levels down naturally.
You can use it to clean your drinking water.
Activated charcoal traps impurities in water the same way it does in your body, so it’s a proactive way to decrease the number of toxins that your digestive system has to deal with.
Unfiltered water straight from the tap in most places has industrial waste, pesticides, and fluoride in it, so you probably don’t want to drink it straight or use it when cooking. The carbon traps many impurities, but not all, so it’s usually used in with other filtering methods. It won’t get rid of bacteria and viruses, though, so making your own filter is probably not a good idea.
Fortunately, there are many inexpensive filtration systems out there that use activated charcoal to clean your water for you. You can get both countertop and whole-home filtration units.
Activated Charcoal Benefits When Taken Externally
Brush with it to whiten teeth.
While it might seem weird to use black powder on your teeth to whiten them, it actually works! It binds with the stuff that causes teeth to stain and absorbs plaque.
Another great benefit of temporarily looking like you’ve eaten a jar of ink is that it changes the ph balance in your mouth, which helps prevent cavities and bad breath. It’s a much safer alternative than fluoride to keep your pearly whites healthy.
The downside is that it’s a bit gritty, so if you use it too often, you could wear down the enamel on your teeth. It can also stain your clothes and grout, so be careful when you use it!
Moisten your toothbrush and dip it into activated charcoal that’s in powdered form, then brush like you normally do. Make sure to rinse well and wipe your mouth with a washcloth you don’t care about that much.
It clears up acne.
Activated charcoal works just as well detoxing your outside as it does your insides. There’s tons of anecdotal evidence out there that people with acne often see a huge improvement in their skin after using it for a few weeks (6).
It works by binding with the dirt, residue, and toxins that hang out on the skin, leaving it incredibly clean without drying it out.
You can mix the powder with aloe vera gel and use it as a mask, or mix it with face wash and leave it on for a minute or two before rinsing. Don’t forget that it stains clothes and grout, so take care when you use it.
It makes a great foot scrub.
It’s gritty, porous, and fantastic at getting rid of yucky odors, so it’s perfect to use on your feet.
You can mix it with raw sugar, bentonite clay, a little olive or coconut oil, and essential oils. Rub it on your feet, then rinse with water. You can also use it as a body scrub if you don’t mind wiping the tub down after you’re done.
It’s a little messy but totally worth it!
It’s great for taking the itch out of bug bites.
Activated charcoal will bind with and draw the toxins out of your skin that cause bug bites to itch.
The easiest way to use it is to mix a little powder with coconut oil, put it on the pad of a band-aid, and cover your bite with it. You’ll notice sweet relief almost immediately!
If you accidentally wandered into a mosquito cloud and have more than a few bites, it’s probably not the best remedy for you. Unless you can stand with it on while naked for a few hours, looking like you rolled in a fire pit.
Activated Charcoal Benefits Around the House
Filter the air you breathe.
Harmful contaminants in the air can cause just as many health problems as dirty water, and air quality is an issue all over the world. We inhale pollutants all day long.
Activated charcoal air purifiers filter the air to get rid of everything from mold and smoke, to hairspray in salons. A purifier in your home or office will make a big difference in both the air quality and the way it smells.
There are even activated charcoal cloth face masks that you can use when it’s really smoggy outside. They’re really good at filtering out diesel and gas fumes if you walk to work.
Put it in your fridge to get rid of odors.
Try activated charcoal instead of baking soda to get rid of odors in your refrigerator and freezer. Throw it into a bowl and replace it after five weeks.
It will also get rid of musty odors in a room the same way. You can mix it with a couple of drops of essential oil to make your house smell even better.
Where can I get it?
As you can see, there are tons of activated charcoal benefits that mostly center around removing the toxins from our skin, bodies, and environment.
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