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The Many Benefits of Activated Charcoal

Updated on December 12, 2014

It’s not surprising that when we hear the word “charcoal” our minds automatically start thinking about backyard barbeques or lumps of coal left behind for those who never got off of the Naughty List. Rarely does one think of “charcoal” as being one of nature’s most powerful curatives.

The fact is that activated charcoal happens to have been used for centuries the world over as a treatment for a variety of maladies. As a matter of fact, Hippocrates was known to prescribe activated charcoal for a number of illnesses to people coming to him for his advice. Native Americans historically used activated charcoal to treat bruises and skin conditions as well as stomach ailments, and the Ancient Egyptians were also known for using this natural remedy.

What exactly is activated charcoal? Well, activated charcoal and regular charcoal are almost one and the same, however, activated charcoal is created with the sole purpose of being used medicinally. Activated charcoal is created by heating regular charcoal from vegetative sources and treating it with oxygen until it expands and becomes porous. This porosity is essential for one of activated charcoal’s main benefits…the adsorption of toxins. Adsorption (as opposed to absorption) is the process in which a compound is able to attach something to itself via chemical attraction.

Activated charcoal works so well because it chemically binds toxins and pathogens to its surface and is able to absorb thousands of times its weight in these impurities. Researches have found that this ancient remedy still works incredibly well to purge the body during accidental ingestion of poisons or drug overdose. It is also highly effective in detoxing the body from lead, mercury, cadmium, and even pesticides.

Purging the body from overdose or harmful exposure to drugs and heavy metals is by far not the only benefit of activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is also extremely helpful for gastrointestinal upsets such as bloating and extreme flatulence, acne and skin eruptions, insect bites and bee stings, reducing cholesterol, fighting viruses, and even whitening teeth and protecting overall oral health.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Activated charcoal works on ameliorating gastrointestinal issues such as flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, and other digestive problems by entering the digestive tract and intestines and adsorbing the offending organisms and noxious gasses and carrying them out of the body.

Cuts, Wounds, Acne & Other Skin Issues

Activated charcoal works wonders for a multitude of skin issues as it has been shown to neutralize a large number of pathogens when used as a poultice on the offending area. The activated charcoal also is able to adsorb bacteria and toxins allowing the body to heal itself optimally without the risk of infection.

Insect Bites & Bee Stings

Activated charcoal can be very beneficial in stopping poison from an insect bite or bee sting from entering the blood stream if a compress of the charcoal is applied immediately after being bit or stung.

Reducing Cholesterol

Some studies have shown that activated charcoal is able to help lower the amount of lipids, cholesterol, and triglycerides in the blood, and lower the chances of coronary arterial diseases and high cholesterol complications.

Fighting Cold & Flu Viruses

Activated charcoal has the ability of rendering many viruses and bacteria lifeless, adsorbing the toxins and helping stop the spread of the pathogens from accelerating throughout the body. This is turn shortens the life of colds and flu when taken at the onset of illness. Activated charcoal has even been used effectively to treat serious viruses like dysentery and cholera.

Oral Health

Due to the fact that activated charcoal is able to rid the body of bacteria, it is extremely effective in curing bad breath, slowing the build-up of plaque, diminishing chances of developing gingivitis and has the added cosmetic benefit of being a highly effective and completely safe tooth whitener.

Activated charcoal is truly one of nature’s most effective and useful holistic treatments. It works wonders for a myriad of ailments without side effects or unsafe, lab created toxins. A bottle of this good stuff deserves a place in everyone’s holistic medicine cabinet. A note of caution, if you are taking any prescribed medications, it is best to consult with your health care practitioner before taking activated charcoal as it may bind to the medication rendering it useless. Otherwise…here’s to activated charcoal and good health!



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    • WritingInRichmond profile image

      WritingInRichmond 3 years ago

      Great follow-up information. Thank you and Happy New Year to you also!

    • HotGreenMama profile image

      Morayma 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank you for your comment! =) I've found that making a paste with activated charcoal & water and applying it directly to problem areas on your gums (or directly onto your teeth for whitening benefits) works best. Sometimes I just open a capsule and use that, or if I have activated charcoal in bulk then I'll opt for a little scoop of that to mix with water. I do prefer capsule form for stomach issues, etc. I prefer activated charcoal from sources like coconuts, olive pits, and bamboo...although a.c. from hardwood and peat are fine too. Thanks again for your comment and Happy New Year! =)

    • WritingInRichmond profile image

      WritingInRichmond 3 years ago

      Very informative article. I have used activated charcoal in the past, but was unaware of the many uses you listed. Any thoughts on powdered verses capsule for oral applications? Also, regarding “vegetative sources”, are there any preferred sources from a health and effectiveness standpoint?