6 Uses For Activated Charcoal

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Activated Charcoal: Benefits, Risks, and Uses

I recently started using toothpaste containing activated charcoal. I’m not sure if it’s whitening my teeth…but I swear it is. And for some odd reason, I find it super satisfying to make my entire mouth black…and then rinse it all away!

But using this toothpaste piqued my interest about activated charcoal. What is it? What are the benefits? Are there other uses for it? Are there any risks?

Turns out this stuff is kind of like baking soda or apple cider vinegar: a miracle-worker with many potential uses and benefits!

What is activated charcoal?

Let’s start with what it’s not. Activated charcoal is NOT the stuff found in the charcoal briquettes that go in your grill. Nor should you be using the char from your outdoor fire pit to brush your teeth!

Activated charcoal is created by super-heating carbon-rich materials like wood, peat, or coconut shells. The high heat strips the charcoal of bonded molecules, freeing up new bonding sites. In non-sciencey terms, this means that activated charcoal is like a sponge waiting to absorb new molecules, like odors, stains, and toxins.

Activated charcoal is commonly used in hospitals to treat overdose patients or poisonings. The toxic substances bind to the charcoal in the stomach and intestines, and because the charcoal cannot be absorbed by the body, get flushed out via the bowels.

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Is activated charcoal safe?

As always, you should consult your health care provider before using any homeopathic remedy.

Few, if any, adverse reactions are reported from people using activated charcoal. When consumed, it will turn your poop black, and it can cause constipation if you don’t drink enough water. But, overall, it seems to be a perfectly safe naturopathic remedy, useful for everything from whitening teeth to calming gas and bloating to reducing cholesterol.

The only real potential threat could be for those taking oral activated charcoal who are also on other medications. Since activated charcoal binds to other substances, it could potentially interfere with absorption of medications.

Never treat a medical emergency such as a drug overdose or accidental poisoning at home! Go to the nearest emergency room or call poison control immediately!  

6 uses for activated charcoal

1. May reduce gas and bloating

It’s not completely understood why, but it seems that activated charcoal can neutralize gas in some people. So if you plan on eating a boatload of broccoli, pop an activated charcoal pill before and after the meal, and see if it helps!

2. Teeth whitening

The research is inconclusive on this, but there’s something truly satisfying about turning your teeth black and then seeing them turn white. Because activated charcoal sponges up all kinds of compounds, it’s very possible that it’s useful for removing stains on teeth and absorbing odors that cause bad breath. Gimme a kiss! You can buy activated charcoal toothpaste on Amazon or at most retail stores.

3. Clearer skin

Activated charcoal may trap dirt, bacteria, oils, and toxins on and in the skin, making them easier to wash away. You can buy activated charcoal as a loose powder and create your own mask by mixing with water or clay, or you can buy a pre-made mask or facial wash.

4. Deodorizer

Activated charcoal, much like baking soda, seems to absorb odors. Aside from the fact that it turns things black that you might not necessarily want black…you could add it to stinky shoes, use it as a fridge deodorizer, or sprinkle it into cat boxes. You can buy loose activated charcoal or pre-made sachets for home applications.

5. Hangover cure

Consuming activated charcoal with alcohol appears to reduce blood alcohol levels. Sweet! This means you may have less of a hangover after going to the over-40 Rave. You can buy activated charcoal in capsule form for oral applications.

6. May lower cholesterol

You need to talk with your doctor before changing or reducing medications, or trying to lower your high cholesterol with homeopathic remedies! But some studies have indicated that activated charcoal can reduce cholesterol…without all the nasty side effects of taking statin drugs.

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Activated charcoal: a safe homeopathic remedy worth trying

There isn’t a lot of scientific research on the health benefits of activated charcoal…but since it can’t be patented by a drug company, why would they do research on it? Activated charcoal has been used for hundreds of years as a homeopathic remedy for both internal and external applications. It seems to be safe for most people. Talk to your doctor and give it a try!

I hope you enjoyed this post and thank you for reading!

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Blog Author: Kelly Bailey, IIN certified holistic nutrition coach, and NPTI certified personal trainer

Learn more about the author here.

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