It seems that 2017 is already the year of activated charcoal. From toothpastes to face peels, it appears activated charcoal is a sought after ingredient in the health and beauty industry of today. Now you might be wondering what activated charcoal is, if the hype is justified and what makes it so effective in health and beauty products. Well, lets take a look.
What is activated charcoal
Activated carbon is charcoal that has had oxygen added to if to increase its porous quality (this is the process of “activating” the charcoal). The coal can come from a variety of sources, such as olive pits, coconut shells or traditional wood coal. The activation process increases the charcoal’s ability to absorb, which is the source of what makes this ingredient important in medicine as well as its effectiveness as a beauty remedy.
Although it may seem that activated charcoal has only recently become the rage, the medical community has been using it for decades to treat overdoses and accidental acute poisoning. Toxins in the body bond to the porous surface of the activated charcoal and allows the body to eliminate the toxins instead of absorbing them. Although it is ineffective for alcohol poisoning, activated charcoal can be used to eliminate cocaine and opium from the blood stream. It can also be useful in case of ingestion for a variety of household cleaners and pesticides. Finally, activated charcoal can be used to eliminate excessive quantities of Aspirin or acetaminophen from the bloodstream. Unsurprisingly, it is not only emergency room doctors who use this magical product; vets also use activated charcoal to help treat accidentally poisoned pets. Timeliness is important when using activated charcoal to treat poisonings or overdoses, so if suspected it is imperative to go to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Activated charcoal can also be used to treat poisons that have not been ingested, such as insect bites. It can be used on minor bites such as mosquito or blackfly bites to stop or prevent itching. It can also be applied topically to more dangerous bites, such as snake or spider bites, to draw out some venom. Medical treatment should still be sought for a snake or a spider bite, but activated charcoal can help prevent or reduce harm from the venom, as well as buy the victim more time to seek medical attention.
Although it cannot be used to treat alcohol poisoning, activated charcoal can be used to prevent hangovers by eliminating high levels of concentrated sugar in commonly used mixers as well as preservative agents.
Activated charcoal can also be used to treat mild gastro-intestinal tract issues such as excessive flatulence, indigestion and bloating. It has been shown that the ingestion of activated charcoal significantly reduces intestinal gas, bloating, and discomfort after eating a typically flatulence-inducing meal. Most pharmacies or natural health stores sell charcoal tablets for treatment of GI tract discomfort.Activated charcoal can be used to help relieve food poisoning. Activated carbon can also alleviate the symptoms of common food allergens in the digestive tract.
Activated charcoal removes fluoride and other chemicals from drinking water. Activated charcoal is so effective when used in this manner it is even used to help clean bodies of water after a spill. Activated carbon filters can be purchased to filter out impurities from tap water.
Activated charcoal is also a high value product in the beauty business. One of its common uses is as an ingredient in whitening toothpastes. Activated charcoal (can be bought here for example) can naturally whiten your teeth by up to two shades. It has been touted as an all-natural whitening agent for a pearly white smile, fresh breath and good oral health. The activated charcoal binds to plaque and tiny, stain-and-odor causing bacteria and then eliminates them as you spit out the toothpaste. In these natural toothpastes, it is often mixed with the amazing and anti bacterial coconut oil to kill germs and helpyou avoid bad breath. Not only can these toothpastes naturally whiten teeth but they can also prevent cavities and gum disease, like gingivitis.
Activated charcoal is also used to remove black heads in a face peel. Users apply a sticky activated charcoal mask to their face and allow it to dry. In theory, the charcoal would draw the blackheads and they would stick on to the adhesive mask, allowing easy removal of blackheads.
Activated charcoal is also used in a variety of wash-off face masks and well as in facial cleaners and body wash, promising to draw out dirt, oil and other impurities as well as shrink enlarged pores.
Activated charcoal is also used in some all-natural deodorants, as activated charcoal not only absorbs moistures but also odor-causing bacteria.
A Word of Warning
Although activated charcoal is an amazing product with a variety of practical uses, it can be dangerous if used incorrectly or carelessly.
Because activated charcoal uses absorption in both its medical use and it efficiency as an all-natural beauty aid, it is important to consider the possible negative impacts of absorption.
First of all, activated charcoal’s most important use is removing toxins from the body in case of accidental poisoning or overdose. It is important to note that charcoal can also bind to other chemicals in your body, such a prescribed medication. Taking charcoal can reduce the effectiveness or desired effects of your medicine.
Charcoal can also cause dehydration as well as constipation due to the activated charcoal absorbing water in your gastro intestinal tract.
Activated charcoal can also have some unwanted, if not dangerous side effects. For example, activated charcoal can stain floor or counters as well as clothing. Activated charcoal can also stain veneers or dentures, so be cautious when using it as a beauty treatment.
Activated charcoal can have amazing and sometimes life saving effects on your health. From treating poisonings and overdoses, to cleaning your water and treating minor GI tract issues, activated charcoal can be beneficial to your everyday well-being. It can also naturally clean your teeth, remove impurities from your skin and keep your underarms dry and stink-free. As with any product, if used with caution and only when needed, activated charcoal can provide many health benefits to you and your family.