NOTE: This is a very long, information-packed article on the benefits of activated charcoal. To make it easier to navigate, don't forget to use the Table of Contents button that will be to your right!
Don't forget to check out our Ultimate Guide on How to Detoxify Your Body and Home (+ Recipes)!
What, Exactly, is Activated Charcoal?
So, what exactly is activated charcoal? You might have heard of this product around, especially if you are interested in more natural health options. It is not uncommon to see it mentioned as being used for things like teeth whitening, or maybe you have been on Amazon and seen a container of charcoal being sold as a mask or facial scrub.
This is all true! 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 out or flushed through other meant, in order for your body to stop absorbing them.
Where it Comes 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.
Its Original Use
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, and was actually found in trauma centers in various countries. As you will see below, it also has a lot of other medical uses, from helping with hangovers, to treating bloating.
What Makes Activated Charcoal so Special?
The uses of activated charcoal powder are many and varied. It can adsorb lead acetate, strychnine, DDT, many drugs (including cocaine, iodine, penicillin, aspirin, phenobarbital), and inorganic substances (chlorine, lead, and mercury).
Activated charcoal powder can adsorb thousands of times its own weight in gases, heavy metals, poisons, and other chemicals; thus it renders them ineffective and harmless. As this absorption ability is one of the major benefits of activated charcoal, this substance is routinely used in hospitals and by physicians.
It can adsorb intestinal gas and deodorizes foul-smelling gases of various kinds.
Why are there So Many Activated Charcoal Benefits?
Activated charcoal powder can do these various things because of its ability to attract other substances to its surface and hold them there. This is called “adsorption” (not absorption). Another one of the benefits of activated charcoal is that it can adsorb thousands of times its own weight in harmful substances. One teaspoonful of it has a surface area of more than 10,000 square feet.
The British medical journal, Lancet, discusses the amazing ability of the human skin to allow transfer of liquids, gases, and even micro-particles through its permeable membrane and pores, by the application of a moist, activated charcoal poultice and compress which actually draw bacteria and poisons through the skin and into the poultice or compress! The article describes the use of activated charcoal compresses to speed the healing of wounds and eliminate their odors. But the activated charcoal poultices must be kept moist and warm for this healing process to occur.
History of the Uses of Activated Charcoal Powder
Ancient Egyptian doctors, as well as Hippocrates (the Greek physician), recommended the use of charcoal for medicinal purposes due to the many benefits of activated charcoal. North American Indians used it for gas pains and skin infections. It eases inflammation and bruises.
Let's Talk Benefits of Activated Charcoal
- A 1981 research study found that activated charcoal powder reduces the amount of gas produced by eating beans and other gas-forming foods. It adsorbs the excess gas, along with the bacteria which form the gas.
- Another of the benefits of activated charcoal is that it helps eliminate bad breath, because it cleanses both the mouth and the digestive tract. It also helps to purify the blood.
- It relieves symptoms of nervous diarrhea, traveler's diarrhea (turista), spastic colon, indigestion, and peptic ulcers. For such problems, take between 1-1 1/2 tablespoons of powdered activated charcoal up to 3 times a day. Because food will reduce the effectiveness and benefits of activated charcoal, take it between meals. Swirl the charcoal in a glass of water and then drink it down; or mix it with olive oil and spoon it into your mouth.
- Activated charcoal powder was placed in gas masks during World War I; and it effectively counteracted poison gas.
- Bad odors, caused by skin ulcers, have been eliminated by placing charcoal-filled cloth over plastic casts. It has been used externally to effectively adsorb wound secretions, bacteria, and toxins. And, in an activated charcoal poultice and pack, it treats infections of the face, eyelids, skin, or extremities.
- It is one of the best substances in poultices for mushroom poisoning, insect stings, brown recluse spider bites, black widow bites, and various types of snake bites. And we're still not done listing the all of the health and beauty activated charcoal benefits!
- It is used in water purification, air purification, and for removing undesirable odors and impurities in food. Keep reading, the list of the benefits of activated charcoal goes on!
- Charcoal is the most-used remedy when many different types of poisons may have been swallowed. Another of the beneficial properties of activated charcoal is that it is also used for diarrhea and indigestion.
- Another one of the healthy uses for activated charcoal powder is its use for jaundice of the newborn, poison oak and ivy reactions, and many other illnesses.
- All research studies show activated charcoal powder to be harmless when it is accidentally inhaled, swallowed, or in contact with the skin. (But if enough is swallowed, it can cause a mild constipation.) No allergies to it have been reported. But it is best not to take activated charcoal longer than 12 weeks without stopping. Do not take it regularly for long periods of time.
No home, especially one with children, should be without Activated Charcoal. You can purchase high-quality and effective Activated Charcoal here and enjoy the many benefits of activated charcoal for health. Starwest Botanicals is where to buy Activated Charcoal!
How to Use Activated Charcoal to Whiten Your Teeth
If you want to give activated charcoal a try for whitening your teeth, you should have a toothbrush you use only for this purpose. It is going to stain and will be hard to clean out, so don’t use your regular toothbrush.
You will open up the charcoal container, then 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 if you aren’t careful. It is a good idea to wear a t-shirt you don’t care too much about.
How to Use Activated Charcoal for Skin and Hair
Activated charcoal also has some great uses for beauty, including your skin and hair. You can actually buy natural products for your skin or hair that has activated charcoal in it, or you can make your own with the charcoal powder.
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.
How to Make a Natural Mascara with Activated Charcoal
This one is pretty cool, actually. Mascara – You can make your own natural and healthy mascara using coconut oil, aloe vera gel, beeswax and charcoal powder. It's healthy, free of chemicals and looks gorgeous. Learn how here. (Don't worry, it's pretty simple to make!) Ultimately, it would be worth your while to figure out how to best get rid of wrinkles when you're young so you’re not caught off-guard when you start to visibly age.
Reduce Gas and Bloating with Activated Charcoal
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.
Activated Charcoal Can 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.
Using Activated Charcoal to Detox
As you probably have guessed, activated charcoal can also be used to help detox your body. Its ability to stop toxins from further damaging your body is incredibly useful. 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 powder 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.
Dr. Al Sears, MD, has his patients use activated charcoal for detoxifying their bodies from even heavy metals, and he shares that he uses it himself. For heavy metal detoxifying, Dr. Sears recommends a total of 20 grams per day, spaced in two to four doses over a 12-day period. Some prefer taking a heaping tablespoon first thing in the morning, well before breakfast for general detoxification.
The fine activated charcoal powder is placed into six to eight ounces of pure un-fluoridated water in a jar. Let it settle for a just a bit, cap the jar, shake very well, and then drink it quickly. There's no strange or bad taste, but it does have a mildly disconcerting gritty texture.
According to Dr. Sears, “ … one gram of (activated charcoal) – an amount the size of your fingernail – can absorb enough toxins to fill the square footage of four tennis courts.”
Richard C. Kaufman, BS, MS, PhD, (Bio-nutritional Chemistry from the University of Brussels) agrees with Dr. Sears on activated charcoal benefits for detoxing. “Detoxification is an on-going biological process that prevents toxins (from infectious agents, food, air, water, and substances that contact the skin) from destroying health. Chronic exposure to toxins produces cellular damage, diverse diseases, allergic like reactions, compromised immunity and premature aging,” he says.
As a general detox plan to counteract daily exposures to toxins, Dr. Kaufman has found two programs that, using activated charcoal, have worked well for him and others. He recommends either.
- Use activated charcoal on two consecutive days each week. Take a total of 20 to 35 grams each day divided into two or three doses. Take in the morning, at midday and before bed on an empty stomach. Avoid excessive calories or processed foods on those days.
- Take about 20 grams a day of activated charcoal in divided doses for several months. Follow with a one-month break and resume the cycle.
Physicians primarily use activated charcoal:
1 – To treat poisonous bites from snakes, spiders, and insects (38).
2 – To treat poisonings in general, as well as overdoses of aspirin, Tylenol, and other drugs.
3 – To treat some forms of dysentery, diarrhea, dyspepsia, and foot-and-mouth disease.
4 – To disinfect and deodorize wounds.
5 – To eliminate toxic by-products that cause anemia in cancer patients.
6 – To filter toxins from the blood in liver and kidney diseases.
7 – To purify blood in transfusions.
The Benefits of Activated Charcoal for Poisoning
Although activated charcoal can be used as an antidote in poisoning from most drugs and chemicals, it will not be effective against the following: cyanide, alcohol, caustic alkalies (such as lye), mineral acids, or boric acids. Strong alkaline and acid poisons need to be treated with solutions with the opposite pH.
For example, until the ambulance arrives, calcium powder in water will help offset acids and vinegar will help offset alkalies. Consult a Poison Control Center (phone numbers are in the front of your phone book) or a doctor immediately, for instructions and information in any poisoning emergency.
When mixed with water and swallowed to counteract poisoning, activated charcoal powder adsorbs the poison or drug, inactivating it. It then carries it inert through the entire length of the digestive tract and out of the body. One of the best things about activated charcoal is that it is not absorbed, adsorbed, neutralized, nor metabolized by the body.
No home, especially one with children, should be without Activated Charcoal. You can purchase high-quality and effective Activated Charcoal Powder here and enjoy the many activated charcoal benefits for your family.
In a poisoning emergency, if the victim is conscious, first induce vomiting (unless he has swallowed an acid) if it can be done quickly. Ipecac is a commonly used emetic. The dosage is 1/2 oz. for children and 1 oz. for adults. Induced vomiting will bring up about 30 percent of the poison from the stomach.
Then give the activated charcoal to help inactivate the remaining 70 percent. The usual dose is 5-50 grams of charcoal, depending on age and body size. Adults should be given at least 30 grams (about half a cup of lightly packed powder), depending on the amount of poison ingested. Larger doses will be needed if the person has eaten a meal recently.
A dose of 200 grams is not excessive in cases of severe poisoning. The activated charcoal will reach its maximum rate of adsorption within one minute. The sooner it is given, the more complete will be the adsorption of the poison. Always keep a large jar of activated charcoal in your kitchen! The dose can be repeated every four hours or until charcoal appears in the stool.
Never give activated charcoal, or anything else, to an unconscious person to swallow. Contact a physician or ambulance immediately.
Do not give charcoal before giving an emetic (to get him to vomit), because the charcoal will neutralize the emetic. Remember that activated charcoal will not work in cases of poisoning by strong acids or alkalines.
Partial list of substances activated charcoal adsorbs
Acetaminophen / Aconitine / Amitriptyline / hydrochloride / Amphetamine / Antimony / Antipyrine / Arsenic / Aspirin / Atropine / Barbital, Barbiturates / Ben-Gay / Benzodiazepines / Cantharides / Camphor / Chlordane / Chloroquine / Chlorpheniramine / Chlorpromazine / Cocaine / Colchicine / Congesprin / Contact / Dalmane / Darvon / Delphinium / Diazepam / 2-, 4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid / Digitalis (Foxglove) / Dilantin / Diphenylhydantoin / Diphenoxylates / Doriden / Doxepin / Elaterin / Elavil / Equanil / Ergotamine / Ethchlorvynol / Gasoline / Glutethimide / Golden chain / Hemlock / Hexachlorophene / Imipramine / Iodine / Ipecac / Isoniazid / Kerosene / Lead acetate / Malathion / Mefenamic acid / Meprobamate / Mercuric chloride / Mercury / Methylene blue / Methyl salicylate / Miltown / Morphine / Multivitamins and minerals / Muscarine / Narcotics / Neguvon / Nicotine / Nortriptyline / Nytol / Opium / Oxazepam / Parathion / Penicillin / Pentazocine / Pentobarbital / Pesticides / Phenobarbital / Phenolphthalein / Phenol / Phenothiazines / Phenylpropanolamine / Placidyl / Potassium permanganate / Primaquine / Propantheline / Propoxyphene / Quinacrine / Quinidine / Quinine / Radioactive substances / Salicylamide / Salicylates / secobarbital / Selenium / Serax / Silver / Sinequan / Sodium Salicylate / Sominex / Stramonium / Strychnine / Sulfonamides / Talwin / Tofranil / Tree tobacco / Yew / Valium / Veratrine / Some silver and antimony salts / Many herbicides
Even More Activated Charcoal Benefits
Many of these benefits of activated charcoal are anecdotal – meaning they are based on the testimony of various individuals. Where there is scientific research, it is noted, as it is also noted if it's an anecdotal benefit.
- Indigestion, Heartburn, Acid Reflux (GERD) – Activated charcoal quickly adsorbs excessive stomach acid as well as many of the irritating substances produced from half-digested stomach contents. Mix 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of activated charcoal powder into a glass of water and drink.
- Acne – A 14-year-old girl was treated with an activated charcoal lotion for severe pustular and cystic acne. According to the researchers, “The procedure was well-tolerated. By the fourth treatment significant improvement was observed, and by the sixth treatment, better than 90 percent clearance of inflammatory lesions was achieved. At the 8-week follow-up after the last treatment, long-lasting improvements in the patient's acne were noted. Improvement was also noted in closed comedones and in the general skin condition, especially pores, sebum reduction, and the red spots seen after inflammatory acne.” For the full report go to:
Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. 02/2011; 29(2):131-5. Source: PubMed
- Acute Psychotic Mania – “Resolution of a manic episode treated with activated charcoal: Evidence for brain-gut axis in bipolar disorder” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry July 2015
- Ruptured/Abscessed Appendix (anecdotal – please seek medical attention for this condition) – Read more here.
- Arthritis (anecdotal) – Anecdotal evidence of charcoal working for Gouty arthritis of the feet – taken orally in conjunction with a warm foot bath with charcoal powder stirred in. Read more here.
- Infant Colic
- High Blood Pressure (anecdotal)
- Bowel Disease such as IBS, IBD, Crohn's (anecdotal)
- Severe Burns (anecdotal)
- Cellulitis (anecdotal)
- Celiac Disease (anecdotal)
- High Cholesterol – A Finnish study reported in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology reported that seven patients were fed 4,8,16, or 32g of activated charcoal per day. “Serum total and LDL-cholesterol were decreased (maximum 29 and 41 percent, respectively) and the ratio of HDL/LDL- cholesterol was increased (maximum 121 percent) by charcoal in a dose dependent manner.”
- Candidiasis, Yeast Infections (anecdotal)
- Colic (anecdotal)
- Dental Infections (anecdotal)
- Diabetes – According to Rx Charcoal by Dr. Thrash
- Wound Healing – Effect of activated charcoal dressings on healing outcomes of chronic wounds.
J.C. Kerihuel, Journal of Wound Care, Vol. 19, no 5, May 2010; International Case Studies Series 2012: Using Actisorb® Silver
- Diabetic Ulcers (anecdotal) (poultice)
- Tetanus (anecdotal)
- Diverticulosis, Diverticulitis (anecdotal) (poultice)
- Ear Infection (anecdotal) (poultice)
- Surgical Infections (used in hospitals)
- Gout (anecdotal) (foot bath)
- Hypertension (anecdotal)
- Vaccine Poisoning (Read More)
- Hemorrhoids (anecdotal)
- Prostatitis (anecdotal)
- Heart Disease – Activated Charcoal Fights Heart Disease in Kidney Patients; Can Charcoal Fight Heart Disease In Kidney Patients?; Cardiac Amyloidosis – Evolving Options for Evaluation and Treatment
- Insect Bites (anecdotal) (poultice)- Brown recluse, fire ants, bees, hornets, yellow jackets, wasps, scorpions
- Snake Bites (anecdotal) (poultice)
- Kidney Disease – In an August 2012 study, scientists trialed another type of kidney replacement therapy for selecti patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD). This protocol, which did not utilize dialysis, included a low protein diet, activated charcoal (uremic toxin adsorbents), and prebiotics. According to the researchers, “clinical and biochemical results of this study showed that these patients were not deteriorating during the study period and Blood Urea Nitrogen (Bun) & serum creatinin levels were not elevated in these months. Participating patients were relatively well throughout the study without signs of florid uremia and without a need for emergent or urgent dialysis. …the proposed dialysis free protocol reduces the need for dialysis treatment at least transiently.” The researchers also recommended additional studies to see if this three-point protocol could reduce the overall need for dialysis.
- Leaky Gut Syndrome (anecdotal)
- Liver Disease (anecdotal with some research)
- Longevity (research)
- Malaria – de Souza JB, Okomo U, Alexander ND, Aziz N, Owens BMJ, et al. (2010) Oral Activated Charcoal Prevents Experimental Cerebral Malaria in Mice and in a Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial in Man Did Not Interfere with the Pharmacokinetics of Parenteral Artesunate. PLoS ONE 5(4): e9867. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009867
- MRSA (research)
- Pars Planitis, Ocular Inflammatory Disorder, Pan uveitis (anecdotal)
- Pink Eye/Conjunctivitis (anecdotal)
- Poisoning – In a 2001 study conducted by the Kentucky Regional Poison Center and reported in the medical journal Pediatrics, Henry Spiller, MS, and George Rodgers, MD, demonstrated the real value of giving activated charcoal in the home to children as an antidote for most poisons. The authors noted that activated charcoal is recognized as the treatment of choice when it comes to neutralizing the effects of swallowing multiple poisons. (Spiller, Henry A, MS, DABAT, Rodgers, George C Jr, MD, PhD, Evaluation of Administration of Activated Charcoal in the Home, Pediatrics, Vol. 108 No. 6 December, 2001
- Poison Ivy (anecdotal) (poultice)
- Radiation Poisoning (some research)
- Nausea, Vomiting, Morning Sickness, Stomach Flu (Rx Charcoal by Drs. Thrash)
- Pressure Sores (anecdotal) (poultice)
Video: The Healing Power of Activated Charcoal
Great video to watch (opens in a new window!) The Healing Power of Activated Charcoal
Activated Charcoal has been around for thousands of years, and has been used as a universal antidote for poisons for a very long time. Activated charcoal works great for nausea, vomiting, colic, diarrhea, acid reflux, getting rid of gas, bad breath, detoxing the colon, lowering cholesterol, rashes, insect bites, poison ivy, gout, filtering our water and air… and so much more. Activated Charcoal is one of the best things to have on hand at all times.
Dr. Paul Haider – Master Herbalist
Therapeutic Action of Activated Charcoal
Activated Charcoal works by ADSORPTION, which is an Electrical Action, rather than Absorption, which is a Mechanical Action. Activated Charcoal Powder ADSORBS MOST Organic and Inorganic Chemicals, that do NOT belong in the Body, but it does NOT ADSORB Nutrients! Activated charcoal benefits, as you can see, seem nearly limitless!
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 using 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.
How to make an Activated Charcoal Slurry
1. Add 1 tsp. of Activated Charcoal Powder to an 8 oz. Glass of PURE Water and stir.
NOTE: LOWER the Dosage to 1/2 tsp. or ADD Psyllium Husks, if the Person, who needs help, has a tendency to become Constipated. And drink through a straw, if the grittiness is a problem.
How to make an Activated Charcoal Poultice
1. Use EQUAL amounts of Activated Charcoal Powder with Flaxseed Meal. Blend in blender, the amount of Seed NEEDED to make the Meal.
2. Place the 2 Powders in a dry bowl and add Water SLOWLY as you stir, mixing into a Toothpaste consistency.
NOTE: 2 tablespoons of each Powder will take approximately 5 or 6 tablespoons of Water. This amount of Poultice Paste would make a Poultice approximately 6 x 6 inches.
3. Reach a DESIRED Consistency, that is NOT TOO WET to run all over, NOT TOO DRY to fall apart), and spread it EVENLY over a Macroporous Cloth, such as an UNBLEACHED (preferably) Paper Towel or a Cotton Cloth.
4. Must now place the top of your Poultice “sandwich” over the Activated Charcoal laden bottom layer.
5. Cover with a soft-type Cling Wrap (Saran Wrap).
6. Place over DESIRED Area of the Skin to be treated (Sandwich on the Skin with the Saran Wrap over the top).
7. Wrap Saran Wrap, a Towel, or a stretch-type (Ace) Bandage around to secure the Sandwich in place.
8. Leave the Activated Charcoal Poultice in place overnight or at least 1-2 hours, if applied during the day.
9. Always DISCARD an Activated Charcoal Poultice after use. Do NOT REUSE it!
NOTE: The Activated Charcoal Poultice can be made SMALL by using a Bandaid or made LARGE by using a Cotton Sheet.
How to Use an Activated Charcoal Poultice
Activated charcoal poultices that are kept moist and warm actually draw toxins and poisons out through the skin tissue. This is because skin is a permeable membrane, which permits a variety of liquids and gases to enter and exit the body.
Make the poultice just large enough to cover the injured part. The paste may be made by mixing equal parts of flax seed meal or corn starch with the activated charcoal, in a bowl, and then adding just enough hot water to make a moderately thick paste. Then spread the paste over a porous cloth, covering over the top with another layer of that same cloth.
Place the poultice over the area to be treated and cover it with a piece of plastic. Cover or wrap with a cloth, to hold it all in place. Secure by a tie, stretch bandage, or pin.
Apply the activated charcoal poultice for 1 or 2 hours. If applied at bedtime, leave it on overnight. Adsorption takes place almost immediately. When it is removed, wash or gently cleanse the area with cool water. Repeat when needed. Poultices should, at the most, be changed every 6-10 hours. Do not put charcoal directly on the broken skin; because it may cause a tattooing effect, blackening the skin for a period of time.
Additional Safety and Usage Information
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.
A Few More Important Pieces of Info on Activated Charcoal
- Charcoal from burned toast should never be used; since substances are present which are carcinogenic. Do not eat burned food. Charcoal briquettes are especially dangerous, because petro-chemicals have been added to them.
- The most effective type of charcoal is the activated form. This process renders it 2 to 3 times as effective as regular charcoal. First, the charcoal is ground very fine; and then it is placed in a steam chamber. This opens up the charcoal and exposes more of its surfaces, so it can adsorb much more.
- Modern medical science recognizes the many health advantages of activated charcoal and uses Activated Charcoal USP, a pure, naturally produced wood charcoal carbon that has no carcinogenic properties.
- Activated charcoal powder must be stored in a tightly sealed container, because it readily adsorbs impurities from the atmosphere. (Leaving the top off a container of charcoal will partially purify the room it is in, to the degree that the air in the room comes in contact with the charcoal.)
- Simply place some in water, stir, and swallow. Or apply it to the skin's surface. It is odorless and tasteless. Powdered, activated charcoal achieves maximum adsorption within a minute or so after absorption.
- Charcoal can also be placed in empty gelatin capsules and swallowed. (Gelatin is usually processed from animals.) But they will act more slowly than swallowing the powder mixed with water. Activated charcoal powder can also be mixed with a little fruit juice before being swallowed; but, of course, it will adsorb that also. This should not be a problem if the juice is diluted or there is a sufficient amount of charcoal in it.
- Activated charcoal is required by law to be part of the standard equipment on many ambulances, in case poisoning is encountered. Due to the high value of activated charcoal, is the first choice of the medical profession.
- Scientific experiments, conducted over a period of many years, confirm the advantages of activated charcoal for health and attest to the effectiveness of charcoal as an antidote. In one experiment, 100 times the lethal dose of cobra venom was mixed with charcoal and injected into a laboratory animal. The animal was not harmed.
- In other experiments, arsenic and strychnine were thoroughly mixed with charcoal and then swallowed by humans under laboratory conditions. The subjects survived, even though the poison dosages were 5 to 10 times the lethal dose.
- Because medicinal drugs are chemical compounds, they are all poisons to a greater or lesser degree. Because of this, if charcoal is taken with them, or soon afterward, it will tend to adsorb and inactivate the drugs. Therefore, physicians recommend that you only take charcoal two hours before or two hours after taking a medicinal drug.
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.
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