You might have heard people mentioning activated charcoal and been wondering what the fuss is about – I’ve found out there are many benefits of activated charcoal.
I came across activated charcoal when I was looking for a way to whiten my teeth and found it on Amazon. Yes too much wine and coffee. Oops.
So let’s look at what activated charcoal is, how it is made, what it comes from, and what you can use it for.
What is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is amazing for health and beauty, but its original purpose was a little different.
Activated charcoal is actually a type of activated carbon that is processed into a powder substance. Its purpose is to help trap the toxins that are in the body so that they can be drawn or flushed out.
Where does Activated Charcoal Come From
Activated charcoal can be made from different sources, but when it is being processed for the purpose of health and beauty, it typically comes from more natural and healthy sources. This often includes coconut shells, coconut husk, and other nut shells.
Before activated charcoal was used for natural beauty and health purposes as it is used for now, it was used to help people who were struggling with alcohol and drug overdoses, as well as alcohol poisoning. It would help to stop the toxins from affecting the body too much.
How Can You Use Activated Charcoal?
This is probably one of the most popular and well-known uses for activated charcoal – it claims to remove stains and lighten the color of your teeth.
The main benefit to using this type of charcoal powder is that it can actually balance the pH levels in your mouth. This not only helps to remove stains, but it can help with general oral health, so it is good either way. With whitening, the activated charcoal helps to absorb the plaque on your teeth that is leading to staining.
How to Use it for Whitening – just dip your toothbrush in water. Give it a shake so there isn’t a lot of water on it, then dip it into the charcoal. You can now just brush your teeth as you normally would, paying good attention to the fronts of your teeth. When you spit it out, you might want to get a little water to swish around. You can then rinse your mouth until your spit is completely clear.
Be extra careful with charcoal when brushing your teeth with it, since it might stain your clothing or your white bathroom wall.
It Helps With Skin and Hair
You can actually buy activated charcoal masks or you can make your own.
The exact same powder you buy for other uses, including teeth whitening, can usually be used for making your own product. Since it is a powder, it is good to add to different DIY face scrubs, adding in some other natural products as well. You can also make your own mask by adding natural ingredients like honey and essential oils, or just water to turn it into a paste.
You can also add a tiny bit to your shampoo and use it for your hair, but be careful if you have light hair. There is a slight risk of it causing discoloration.
Becuase of its ability to stop toxins from further damaging your body- there are capsules of activated charcoal that you can try taking in order to help detox your body, or you can remove toxins by applying the powder to your skin after mixing it with water to create a paste. Some people are adding the power to juice or lemonade, and calling it black lemonade.
Just make sure you talk to your doctor before ingesting this, and be wary of other medications you are taking along with the charcoal.
Reduce Gas and Bloating
According to the Journal of Gastroenterology, you can also try taking activated charcoal if you are experiencing gas or bloating. You should talk to your doctor or a health practitioner to discuss dosing, but you typically want to take it before a meal that might produce, as opposed to after you already have gas.
Make sure you are drinking plenty of water with, before, and after taking the activated charcoal.
Help Prevent a Hangover
When you start researching activated charcoal, one thing you will probably notice is that it is often advertised as something to help prevent hangovers. People are running to their local health food store to pick up charcoal pills that they take before drinking to try to prevent their hangover.
There have been several studies, with mixed results, but it can be worth a try. It has shown to lower blood alcohol levels or the effects of them in some people, as the charcoal helps with alcohol absorption. Others did not see a significant difference.
It should not be used as a way to encourage you to drink heavier, however, so practice caution and always drink responsibly.
Here’s even a recipe for an activated charcoal lemonade
Tips for Using Activated Charcoal
If you are planning on trying out activated charcoal to see if it works for you, the following tips can be useful.
Be Careful With Other Medications
Activated charcoal has not been studied enough with other medications to know if it’s dangerous, so it is best that you practice caution. Not only should your doctor know if you are considering taking it, especially by ingestion, but you don’t want to take it with other medications. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
Watch Out for the Mess
Charcoal in powder form can get very messy, so be careful! If you are using it for a face mask, body scrub, or to whiten your teeth, never wear your nice clothes when using it. Even if you are super careful, there is still a risk of getting it on your clothes. Either wear old clothes you wear when dying your hair or painting, or just wear a towel or bath robe.
It is a good idea to have an old towel in your bathroom when using the charcoal for this use specifically, since that might get stained as well. Also be careful about spilling it on your sink or countertops, as some materials might stain.
Don’t Ingest it Daily
While activated charcoal has tone of uses for removing various bacteria and toxins from your body, it isn’t good to use on a daily basis if you are ingesting it. While it does stop toxins, it could also keep good nutrients from being absorbed in your body as well. Too much activated charcoal in your body could actually make you ill from malnutrition. Best to use it only when absolutely necessary.
Drink Plenty of Water With it
Another tip to follow when suing activated charcoal by ingestion is to drink a lot of water when taking it. The powder can be hard to go down and get stuck in your throat if you aren’t careful. Drink lots of water before, during, and after using the charcoal.
Rinse Your Mouth Well
Also be careful to rinse your mouth really well any time you brush your teeth to whiten them with activated charcoal, or you take it by mouth with water. You should keep rinsing your mouth until you can swish water, spit it out, and it is completely clear. Depending on how much you had of it in your mouth or on your teeth, this can take a few minutes of rinsing.
- Precautions and Side Effects
Before finishing up this report, it is really important that you use activated charcoal safely. This goes for any type of natural remedy that is not recommended directly by your doctor or a natural health practitioner. While it has not shown to have severe side effects, the studies are still in their beginning stages.
Potential Side Effects
The good news is that the side effects aren’t too extreme. They can also vary by person, and depending on what you used the charcoal for. Naturally, a risk for using it for whitening your teeth is that it might make your tongue a little black, especially if you are brushing your tongue with it or not rinsing properly. You can reduce the risk by only brushing your teeth, never your tongue, and rinsing well each time.
There are some other side effects people have reported, which include
Black or darker stools when ingesting the charcoal
Having vomiting or diarrhea
If you are using it too much, it could lead to gastrointestinal blockages as well. This is why you need to pay close attention to the proper dosage if you are ingesting the charcoal for health purposes.
Risks to be Aware of
Activated charcoal when used for health or beauty is typically from all-natural sources like coconut husks, but you should still practice caution and know of the risks. Here are some things to keep in mind:
You should not be taking activated charcoal with medications, unless directed by your doctor.
Avoid ingestion of charcoal during pregnancy or while breastfeeding without talking to your doctor first.
Do not give activated charcoal to children without asking your pediatrician.
Take only small doses first to see how your body reacts.
As long as you follow these simple guidelines, you can avoid any potential risks when using or ingesting activated charcoal. In general, natural remedies are meant to have very few side effects and risks, but you should always be extra careful when trying anything new.