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IMG_1139My body had been craving activated charcoal and then it seemed like I was noticing it everywhere. My aunt saw some post on activated charcoal ice cream. My friend Sue  ate one of those packets that preserves powders by accidentally blending the packet into her smoothie. She got a little nervous and took the activated charcoal as a recourse. My friend Nicole just picked some up and got inspired to make my activated charcoal lemonade recipe. It’s the new hit thing.

Activated charcoal has been around for centuries and has been used as safe and effective treatment of poisoning and drug overdoses. A French Academy of Medicine professor drank a lethal dose of strychnine and didn’t suffer any serious side effects because he consumed activated charcoal at the same time. It is also used to reduce bloating, gas, lower cholesterol, treat bile flow problems safely during pregnancy, and even prevent hangovers.

Activated charcoal comes from burning a coconut shell, bamboo, wood, or coal without oxygen to create char. This char gets heated to high temperatures and then exposed to certain gases, which makes it extremely porous. It works through a process called adsorption, not absorption. This chemical process occurs by the small chambers and cavities in the activated charcoal capturing unwanted materials and gas and carrying it safely through the digestive system for elimination. Absorption is the reaction of elements, including nutrients, chemicals and toxins, soaked up and assimilated into the bloodstream.

Activated charcoal can cause dehydration so make sure you drink 12-16 glasses of water per day when you consume activated charcoal. This helps to flush out the toxins quickly and prevents constipation. Activated charcoal is good for numerous things. Some of these include:

  • Teeth whitening: You may have seen those bamboo toothbrushes with black bristles. This is activated charcoal. You can also get it in powdered form, wet your toothbrush and dip the bristles in the toothbrush. Your mouth will look like you ate a bunch of mud but your teeth will come out squeaky clean. The whitening process occurs by the activated charcoal capturing plaque and other microscopic materials that stain the teeth. It changes the pH balance in your mouth and prevents bad breath, cavities and gum disease. Rinse well until your spit is clear. You can use activated charcoal on your teeth about 2-3 times per week. It can stain grout and fabrics so be careful if you spill it. Stop use if your teeth become sensitive and watch out for crowns, caps or porcelain veneers.
  • Decrease gas and bloating: Activated charcoal binds to the gas-causing byproducts in foods that cause discomfort. Remember to drink your water so you don’t get dehydrated.
  • Treats alcohol poisoning and helps prevent hangovers: Activated charcoal grabs the toxins found in artificial sweeteners and mixers that are often combined with alcohol. It can also reduce blood alcohol concentrations, which makes it helpful in the event of alcohol poisoning.
  • Mold and air purifier: Mold can live in the body and cause depression, kidney and liver failure, decreased brain function, heart disease, eye irritation, headaches, vomiting, impaired immune system function and severe respiratory distress. Homes can contain mold especially if they have flooded. Activated charcoal, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, and borax can be used to clean mold off hard surfaces and keep mold from growing back. You can also get charcoal bags that will purify the air and last for years! The bags can be recharged by putting them in the sun once a month. Consult a professional to evaluate your home if you have mold.
  • Water filtration: Berkey makes awesome water filters that help to remove the toxins in the water through activated charcoal. Activated charcoal has been used in water filtration systems throughout the world. Typical tap water is very toxic so filter it whenever possible.
  • Emergency toxin removal: Activated charcoal can be used as an antidote for accidental or purposeful overdose of many pharmaceutical drugs and over-the-counter medications. It is effective for cocaine, aspirin, opium, morphine and acetaminophen. The proper amount should be administered as quickly as possible, within an hour of ingestion. You should still call 911. The University of Michigan Health System states that 50 to 100 grams (not milligrams) should be used in the event of poisoning for adults and 10 to 25 grams for children. It can also be used in cases of food poisoning. Adults should take 25 grams right when they suspect symptoms and children should be given 10 grams. You must remember to hydrate with water. I repeat, hydrate!!
  • Skin and body health: You can use activated charcoal to treat body odor and acne and as a face mask. Mix two capsules of activated charcoal with one tablespoon of aloe vera gel and smooth over face. Let dry then rinse off completely. You can do this for spot treatments too! Put about ½ teaspoon in your shampoo and scrub your hair to pull out dirt and toxins.
  • Digestive cleanse: You can do a digestive cleanse by taking 10 grams of activated charcoal 90 minutes before each meal for two days. Pesticides on the food, chemicals in the water and exposure to mold create toxins in the body so it is good to routinely cleanse the GI tract. Eat only organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish. If you are constipated, drink more water with a slice of lemon and a touch of honey every half hour until constipation is gone.
  • Anti-aging: Activated charcoal supports healthy adrenal glands and prevents cellular damage to the kidneys and liver. Aging is natural but using natural ways to get rid of toxins we are exposed to through our food and environment helps prevent premature aging. Take two capsules per day after exposure to non-organic foods, heavy meals or other toxins. It can also help to increase cognitive function, which reduces brain fog.
  • Reduces high cholesterol: Activated charcoal can increase good cholesterol as much as some prescription medications and reduce bad cholesterol. Do not take any activated charcoal within 90 minutes to two hours of taking any prescription medication or supplements because it can prevent proper absorption.
  • Relieve bug bites and poison ivy: Relieve insect bites, rashes from poison ivy or poison oak, and snake bites. Mix one capsule of activated charcoal with ½ teaspoon of coconut oil. Put on the bite and reapply every 30 minutes until discomfort has subsided. Wrap with a bandage so you don’t stain yourself.  

You may want to contact a medical professional if you are taking any of the following medications:

  • Naltrexone
  • Acrivastine
  • Bupropion
  • Carbinoxamine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Meclizine
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Morphine sulfate liposome
  • Mycophenolic acid
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Suvorexant
  • Tapentadol
  • Umeclidinium
  • Acetaminophen
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Theophylline

Where do I get activated charcoal?

You can order activated charcoal online through Amazon or get it at your local health foods store. It’s probably less expensive on Amazon. Mine was double at the health food store! Make sure it is made from coconut shells or an identified wood species that have ultra-fine grains. Many powdered forms contain artificial sweeteners. This doesn’t even make sense if you’re trying to get rid of these toxins. Try this activated charcoal lemonade I made the other day for a nice detoxifying afternoon refreshment!


Dr. Axe: Activated Charcoal Uses

Wellness Mama: How to Use Activated Charcoal for Beauty, Health, and Home.

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