What’s all the buzz about Charcoal?

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Charcoal in toothpaste, body lotion, shampoo, deodorant and now in coffee and smoothies and pills? What is the buzz about and why should we care?

What is it: Well is it better known as Activated Carbon, aka Activated Charcoal; it’s basically a material that is produced from different carbon sources. When these carbon sources (like coal, coconuts, or wood) are cooked at a really, really high temperature (around 1,800°F. Yikes!), a magical chemical reaction occurs. When that happens, all the harsh compounds disappear and tons of good ones are added in. At the same time, the surface area expands full of tiny pores that are perfect for adsorption.

Activated charcoal is a potent natural treatment used to eliminate toxins and chemicals in the body, by trapping them inside the charcoal and then allows them to be flushed out so the body doesn’t absorb them. It’s made from a variety of sources, but when used for natural healing, it’s important to select activated charcoal made from coconut shells or other natural sources.

Activated charcoal works by trapping toxins and chemicals in its millions of tiny pores. It doesn’t absorb the toxins, however,  it works through the chemical process of adsorption which soaks up the toxins and flushes them out through the bloodstream.

Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine have used activated charcoal for thousands of years and its first recorded use dates back to 1550 BC. Activated charcoal is well established in medical literature as a powerful antidote that absorbs most organic toxins, chemicals, and poisons before they can harm the body. It is really important to note that activated charcoal is not what you use in your barbecue grill. That charcoal has a ton of toxins and chemicals in it that will make you extremely sick and should never be consumed.

Most popular uses

  1. Probably the most well known use is to help improve the health of our teeth and mouth. Activated Charcoal works to whiten teeth, balance pH levels and prevent bad breath, cavities, remove toxins in your mouth and prevents tooth decay and gingivitis. It does this by absorbing the plaque that builds up on your teeth as well as removing common stains most associated with coffee, wine or cigarettes.  So, guess we can still enjoy that red wine! But remember, our pal Leslee Miller from Amuseé recommends waiting at least 30 minutes after drinking wine to brush your teeth. Also, do not overuse the charcoal toothpaste. It is recommended to brush very lightly due to the abrasiveness and don’t use it everyday. Using a charcoal toothbrush can work to deodorize your mouth and also prevent bacterial buildup from growing on your brush.  Bonus, it can help to remineralize teeth, strengthen gums, and is anti-inflammatory, helping to calm down oral inflammation.

  2. It’s magical powers are unreal topically, too; it can do just about anything.  It is great to help reduce acne (mix 1 tsp powder with 1 tbsp aloe or olive oil and rub in or dab on. Let dry then wash off. Or leave on overnight if your skin is not overly sensitive), exfoliates skin, removes bacteria (an activated charcoal mask can absorb and act like a magnet for dirt, oil and other impurities that are commonly found in the skin), balances out the pH level, and relieves sting from bug bites and  itching from poison ivy (after a mosquito bite or bee sting, mix one capsule of activated charcoal with ½ tablespoon of coconut oil, and dab on affected area. Reapply every 30-minutes until itching and discomfort are gone. As activated charcoal stains nearly everything it touches, wrap with a bandage.).  Try this one on Amazon from Sagano

  3. There is no way to stop the aging process, however, we can slow down the process side-effects by limiting our exposure to toxins in our food, homes and environment which can lead to premature aging.  Activated Charcoal can help to prevent cellular damage to the kidneys and liver, as well as support healthy adrenal glands. It also benefits major organs by helping the body flush out any stored toxins and chemicals that may lead to illness or disease in the body. Take two capsules of this from Schizandu per day after exposure to non-organic foods, heavy meals or after contact to other toxins.

  4. In an article by Dr Axe, he cites studies from around the world that show that
    Activated Charcoal reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol as much as some prescription medications. In one study, total cholesterol decreased by 25 percent, LDL cholesterol decreased by 41 percent, while HDL increased by 8 percent — in just four weeks.  Study participants took three doses of eight grams each for the period of the study. Don’t take activated charcoal within 90-minutes to two hours of taking any prescription medication or supplements as it can prevent proper absorption.

  5. Digestive health can benefit as well. When taken internally, Activated Charcoal can improve digestive function and immunity by helping to remove heavy metals and toxins that cause allergic reactions and oxidative damage, as well as viruses and parasites. Toxicity is a part of everyday life and Activated Charcoal can help to eliminate toxins the body receives from pesticides in foods, chemicals in body products and pollutants from the air. This helps increase energy levels, improve mental function and support the immune system to ward of illness and disease.  Amazon has many options like this one from Nature’s Way.

  6. Activated Charcoal also works a natural deodorant. There is no shortage of brands now featuring charcoal deodorant (here are a few of our favorites: Primarily Pure Charcoal Deodorant, Schmidt’s Charcoal Deodorant , and Alaffia Neem Charcoal Deodorant). It is not proven yet, but will not hurt you as it does not irritate skin, so give it a try.  We personally use it and find it is one of the very best natural deodorants that is toxin free.


It's Popping Up In Our Food Too

  1. Charcoal beverages are popping up everywhere from grocery stores, to restaurants to food trucks. There is charcoal in latte’s, juices and tonics.

  2. Black accented food is popping in restaurants as well. You can find it in waffles, ice cream, noodles and sauces.  Again there is wise guidance to avoid consuming in your food  because of its potential to irritate the stomach and bind to medications.

***Important note about ingesting activated charcoal.  There are recent studies that suggest activated charcoal can minimize the effect of birth control pills and other medications. So, like any supplement you take that acts as detoxifier, please consider this warning and talk to your doctor if you have concerns.