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Activated Carbon Charcoal Benefits

Charcoal doesn’t have to be used only when you’re having a barbeque. There is a certain form of charcoal (different from the one you use when cooking meats over a fire) that is actually able to provide some interesting and useful health benefits that you might not have thought possible from an ancient rock buried underground. Activated charcoal has been used for its medicinal benefits in various cultures all around the world. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the health benefits – and detriments – of using activated charcoal. 

Click ‘Next’ to find out exactly what activated charcoal can do for you.

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What Is Activated Charcoal?

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Try not to confuse activated charcoal with the briquettes that you use when grilling food over a barbeque. It is a far more porous version and is made from coconut shells, bone char, coal, peat, sawdust, or the pits from olives. It is activated by very high temperatures that increase its surface area, which alters both its appearance and properties. Activated charcoal works by trapping toxins in your gut, which prevents your body from absorbing them, which is one of its major benefits. 

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Drawing Out Toxins

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The ability for activated charcoal to trap toxins and stop them from entering your bloodstream makes it an advanced treatment for poisoning cases. Whether you accidentally ingest something or overdose on prescription medication, activated charcoal can draw out the toxins and prevent them from harming your body. If you take it within five minutes of consuming a drug, you have a 74% of reducing the drug’s absorption into your bloodstream. However, not all poisoning cases can be treated by using activated charcoal. 

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Enhanced Kidney Function

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Your kidneys can be thought of as your body’s filtration system. Every day, it is constantly removing toxins from your body, which your body then disposes of through your urine. Activated charcoal can support your kidney function by reducing the amount of toxins that it has to filter. This can be particularly beneficial to those who have kidney disease or limited kidney function. Activated charcoal binds to urea and toxins, makes your blood cleaner, and improves overall kidney function. 

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Reduced Cholesterol

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Just as activated charcoal binds with toxins, it is also able to bind with cholesterol and bile acids that contain cholesterol. These will remain in the gut to be expelled later, rather than being absorbed into the body’s bloodstream. A mere 24 grams of activated charcoal each day can reduce the high cholesterol levels in patients by 25%. Decreasing your cholesterol levels offers better protection from atherosclerosis, blood pressure, and many other cardiovascular diseases. 

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Reduced Bloating

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It has been suggested that activated charcoal can impact the production of gas by the body, which means that it could be a more effective and natural alternative to gas-relieving medications and antacids. If you are someone who tends to experience gas after eating a meal, then you are familiar with the pain and discomfort that it can cause. A daily dose of activated charcoal can help relieve those digestive problems and keep gaseous bloating to a minimum. 

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Reduced Fish Odor Syndrome

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Fish odor syndrome, which is also called trimethylaminuria (TMAU), is an uncommon affliction that is extremely unpleasant. This condition causes a fish-like odor to be excreted from the body via the breath, skin, and urine. The body produces a particular enzyme that is converted into an odorless compound before it is excreted. Those who suffer from TMAU lack the enzyme. Activated charcoal can help bind the odorous compounds, which expedites their removal and reduces the overall smell that the body produces

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Anti-Aging Benefits

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While we all age, and getting older is an inevitable fact of life, there are certain habits that we form and things that we do that speed up the aging process. An overload of toxins can harm the liver and kidney, which, in turn, can lead to aging prematurely. As you already know, activated charcoal is effective at binding toxins, which reduces the work that your detoxification and filtration systems have to do. A daily dose of activated carbon can promote better health and reduced signs of aging

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Digestive Cleanse

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By removing toxins from the body, activated charcoal can promote healthy absorption and function in your gut. Compounds that cause oxidative damage and allergies are removed, which cleanses the digestive tract and promotes health and wellness. A two-day activated charcoal cleanse, accompanied by a diet of fresh vegetables and fruits, will rid your body of any harmful toxins. It will also promote gut balance and health while reinforcing your intestinal strength. This helps prevent future damage. If you feel that you are in need of a digestive cleanse, then activated charcoal can be a great agent for that. 

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Teeth Whitening

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Using activated charcoal in your toothpaste or when brushing your teeth is often said to be able to make your teeth appear whiter. Apparently, it does this by absorbing plaque and other compounds that stain the teeth, which is not so far-fetched, as we are already familiar with the absorptive properties that activated charcoal possesses. However, there are no studies that support this claim, so you’ll have to do your own tests to determine whether activated charcoal truly whitens your teeth. 

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Hangover Cure

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Like with tooth whitening, activated charcoal is sometimes used in an attempt to cure the infamous hangover. People have tried much stranger hangover cures, so the thought of using activated charcoal the morning after a night out doesn’t sound too outlandish. Consuming activated charcoal while drinking alcohol might reduce blood alcohol levels, but there are no studies regarding its effect on hangovers. Once again, it will be up to you to do your own testing to determine whether activated charcoal helps get rid of your hangovers.

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Is It Safe?

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In most cases, activated charcoal is considered safe, and adverse side effects are said to be infrequent and are rarely ever severe. With that being said, it is possible for activated charcoal to cause some unwanted side effects, with the most common of these being vomiting and nausea. Additionally, constipation is another reported side effect that people have reported, but again, these side effects are few and far between. When activated charcoal is used as an emergency antidote to cure poisoning, there is a chance that it may enter your lungs. 

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Follow the Dosage Instructions

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If you are interested in giving activated charcoal a try, you can find a wide variety of products containing activated charcoal on Amazon. Be sure to follow the dosage instructions that come with your product, and if you are experiencing drug poisoning, you should immediately seek medical help. You can find activated charcoal products in powder or pill form. When administered as a powder, you can mix the product with water or non-acidic juice. 

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May Affect Gut Health

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We’ve discussed some of the benefits of activated charcoal, but it would be irresponsible not to mention some of the health risks. One of the risks that come with consuming activated charcoal outside of a medical setting is that, in the process of drawing out and eliminating toxins from your body, it might also remove important nutrients from your digestive tract. This can be harmful to the balance of bacteria in your gut, which presents some health risks. 

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Might Harm the Teeth

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There are also some risks associated with using activated charcoal to clean your teeth, just like there are when using it to clean your gut. Allegedly, activated charcoal possesses antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and oral detoxification properties. However, a review published in 2017 found that there is not enough evidence to support these claims. Moreover, three of the studies that were included in the review reported negative effects, like enamel abrasion and increased cavities.  

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If You Have Intestinal Blockages, Avoid Activated Charcoal

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Intestinal obstruction is a rare complication that is associated with the ingestion of activated charcoal. One 22-year-old patient who had received multiple doses of activated charcoal reported a sudden onset of abdominal pain after being discharged from the emergency room. It was later found that she was experiencing a small bowel obstruction as a result of administering activated charcoal. If you have experienced problems with intestinal blockages in the past, you may want to avoid activated charcoal

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What Makes It Activated?

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Activated charcoal is made from materials that are rich in carbon, which is burned at high temperatures. For instance, materials like coconut shells, wood, or coal, which are rich in carbon, are burned between 600°C and 900°C to create a charcoal powder. Then, the powder will usually be charred using some more material, like chloride salts, to help form the porous structure. Any excess material is rinsed away using a diluted acid solution, leaving the pure carbon behind. 

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Controlling Oily Skin

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If you are someone who experiences oily skin, especially if you wear makeup, then you are probably quite frustrated with trying hundreds of different methods to try to treat your oily skin. Things only get worse during the summer, as you start to get hotter and sweat more, which leads to more oil on your skin. Activated charcoal may be able to balance things out since soap made with activated charcoal can draw the excess oils from your skin, as well as any dirt and debris. 

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Deep Cleans the Skin

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While charcoal soap can manage the oils on your skin, it is also able to remove dead cells from the surface of your skin, which provides clean, practically flawless skin. It is great for cleaning your pores of any impurities that might be in them, which generally leads to blackheads. Activated charcoal absorbs dirt, as well as any debris that has sunk deep into the skin, detoxifying and cleansing the skin overall

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Can Help Clear Up Acne

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Depending on your specific case of acne, the severity of your acne, what is causing it, and many other factors, you might be able to use activated charcoal to help clear your skin up. Charcoal soap is known to be very beneficial for treating acne. Soap that contains activated charcoal will absorb the toxins on your skin and remove oils and impurities from deep beneath your skin. If left alone, these impurities often lead to the development of acne breakouts. 

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Can Reduce Pore Size

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During the course of the day, dirt and debris settle in your pores, which can sometimes enlarge them and make them more noticeable. When your pores aren’t clean, your complexion won’t be, either, and you’ll notice that more blackheads start to form on certain parts of your face. Charcoal soap is one of the best solutions for this, as it can bind to and pull up the dirt and debris from your pores, which makes them less visible and reduces their size. 

If you would like to learn more about small blackheads, take a look here.

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Gentle Exfoliation

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The texture that activated charcoal has makes it a great, gentle, natural exfoliant. Soap that contains activated charcoal will often feel slightly gritty to the touch, which can provide just the right amount of gentle exfoliation that your skin needs to be as clean as possible. Exfoliants help remove dead skin cells, as well as dirt and debris that might be sitting on and in the skin. Its antimicrobial properties help mitigate skin infection. 

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Activated Charcoal for Hair

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Activated charcoal makes for a good ingredient in your hair care routine, as it can draw out impurities from your hair and your scalp. This also includes oil and dirt, as well as any chemicals that accumulate when you regularly use conditioners and shampoos. This helps improve the overall appearance of your hair while also improving its health. Subsequently, your hair will be encouraged to grow faster, because it is healthier. 

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Making Your Own

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It is possible to make your own activated charcoal at home, though the process can be quite time-consuming, and it requires quite a few components and ingredients. You will probably want to dedicate an entire day to the process. This website provides an in-depth tutorial on how to make your own activated charcoal at home, and it provides a list of all of the products that you will need to make it. 

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Remember To Practice Safety

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As you can see, there are several health benefits and detriments that you should be mindful of whenever you plan to use an activated charcoal product. Be sure to consult with your doctor about any health risks that using activated charcoal might pose for you. We hope that you found this article useful and that you learned a little more about activated charcoal!

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