Activated charcoal, also called activated carbon is made from natural organic material and activated to ensure it adsorbs three to four times more toxins and gas from gastrointestinal track than ordinary charcoal. Activated Charcoal is produced by heating of dry wood, coconut shells, or other natural substances in the absence of oxygen and under pressure to open up millions of small spaces between the carbon atoms and turn it literally into a “sponge” that adsorbs impurities and harmful substances. That is why activated charcoal is used for water filtration. In fact, most hospital emergency rooms use a charcoal solution for medication overdoses and accidental poisonings.
It was estimated that just one teaspoonful of activated charcoal has about the same total surface area as a football field! This enormous surface area provides activated charcoal with innumerable bonding sites, and when chemicals that are attracted to carbon pass by they are attached to the surface. Due to this effect charcoal is regarded as highly effective in absorbing many poisons from human gastrointestinal tract.
Among the most common substances that can be adsorbed and neutralised by activated charcoal are the following: Mercury, Lead, Narcotics, Cocaine, Opium, Nicotine, Arsenic, Chlorine, Gasoline, Aspirin, Paracetamol, Penicillin, Morphine, Valium, Pesticides, Radioactive Substances, Phenol, Methyl, Hydrochloride, Kerosene, Acetate, Digitalis, Quinine, Theophylline, Carbon dioxide, and many others.
Charcoal helps absorb and neutralise gas created by indigestion and food fermentation in the stomach and intestinal tract. It has repeatedly proven to be very beneficial in assisting body’s detoxification process and especially for numerous gastro-intestinal problems such as gas, flatulence, bloating, nausea, poisoning, diarrhoea, heart burn, aspirin, paracetamol and other medication overdose, kidney and liver failure, body odour or bad breath.
Charcoal powder mixed with water can be also used externally for oral hygiene, various skin inflammations, insect and snake bites, cuts and burns, or mouth, eye and ear infections. Opening a capsule and using charcoal powder and brushing the teeth with it is regarded as very effective for stained teeth.
Numerous studies have shown that regular ingestion of charcoal is safe for both adults and children. The only side effect which may sometimes occur as a result of ingesting excessive doses of charcoal is constipation, especially when taking charcoal is accompanied by drinking insufficient amount of water.
Charcoal should be taken two hours before or after taking medication as otherwise it may adsorb and inactivate it. However, it is advisable to check with your physician before beginning treatment with charcoal if you are taking prescription drugs.
Charcoal is not effective in every poisoning situation so consult a Poisons Information Service or a physician for instructions.
To make a small external poultice: Open about 5 charcoal capsules (1 teaspoon of activated charcoal powder) and mix it with 1 teaspoon of ground flax seeds or corn starch in 1 tablespoon (or more if required) of very hot water. Stir until blended and cool to room temperature. Place mixture generously on a strip of gauze large enough to cover the area and tape the sides so that the mixture does not leak. Leave for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Benefits of Using Activated Charcoal
- Natural Relief for Gas, Indigestion, Bloating, Wind and Flatulence
- Powerful Detoxification Aid
- Effective Internal Cleansing
- Potent Poisoning or Drug Overdose Antidote
- Effective Teeth Whitening
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- Hoegberg, L., Angelo, H., Christophersen, A. and Christensen, H. (2002) ‘Effect of ethanol and pH on the adsorption of acetaminophen (paracetamol) to high surface activated charcoal, in vitro studies’, Journal of toxicology. Clinical toxicology., 40(1), pp. 59–67.
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