Activated charcoal has been associated with ridding the body of harmful toxins for a very long time. But in recent years the jet black powder has caught on as a food trend with people using it to make detox drinks, black soups, dip sauces, and more. The fact that the powder is virtually tasteless but turns any food it is added to jet black (great for Instagram posts) has only added to its popularity.
But is activated charcoal the ultimate detox that it is touted to be? Let’s explore the product in detail to learn more.
What is Activated Charcoal Powder?
Activated charcoal or activated carbon is a type of carbon material that is obtained from sources like bone char, petroleum coke, coconut shells, peat, coal, olive pits, or sawdust. It is called ‘activated’ because the charcoal is heated to very high temperatures that reduce the size of its pores while simultaneously increasing its surface area.
The heating process makes activated charcoal more porous than regular charcoal. The difference between activated charcoal and the charcoal briquettes you use in your barbecues is that the latter hasn’t been heated or ‘activated’. In fact, charcoal briquettes contain some additives that are actually harmful to human health.
How Does Activated Charcoal Work?
The porous surface of activated charcoal has a negative electrical charge. When you consume charcoal, it moves through your digestive system attracting positively charged molecules like toxins and gases. Since activated charcoal cannot be absorbed by your body, it, along with all the toxins attached to it is dispelled naturally from your body.
The reason why activated charcoal is so good at removing toxins is because of a process called adsorption. Adsorption is when the molecules of a particular substance attach to the surface of another instead of dissolving in it (which is what happens in absorption). The adsorption function of activated charcoal gives it its detox properties. It is also the reason why you should be careful how much activated charcoal you are consuming.
What can you do with Activated Charcoal Powder?
Activated charcoal powder may be the detox king, but it also has many other uses and benefits. Here is a look at some of the things you can do with activated charcoal powder.
Treat Drug Overdose and Poisoning
Activated charcoal powder has been used in the medical circle to treat drug overdose and certain kinds of poisoning for ages. It can bind to a wide variety of drugs and toxins in your body making them ineffective. Studies show that taking a single dose of 50-100g of activated charcoal within 5 min of drug ingestion has a 74% chance of reducing drug absorption in adults.
Activated charcoal is routinely administered in hospitals to treat prescription drug and OTC medication (aspirin, acetaminophen, and sedatives) overdoses. However, it is important to note that activated charcoal may not be effective in case of poisonings caused by alcohol, heavy metals, acid, iron, lithium, potassium, and others.
Check out how to make activated charcoal dog treats to help detoxify your dog’s system and treat some kinds of food poisoning.
Relieve Bloating and Gas
Activated charcoal powder can help you counter some of the symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) like bloating, diarrhea, and gas. Though there aren’t many studies proving this, there are some that suggest taking the right dosage of activated charcoal can help relieve excessive gas and bloating.
Improve Kidney Health
Healthy kidneys are able to filter your blood without the need for any extra help. However, if your kidney is impaired due to any disease or you suffer from chronic kidney disease, then activated charcoal can lend your kidney a helping hand by adsorbing extra waste products. By adsorbing urea and other toxins and eliminating them, activated charcoal can reduce the load on your kidneys.
Activated charcoal’s binding properties make it a popular choice to remove stains from teeth. When applied to teeth, activated charcoal is said to adsorb plaque and other teeth-staining compounds that are then washed away when you clean off the activated charcoal paste from your teeth.
Deep Clean Skin and Hair
Activated charcoal powder is great for making hair and face masks that help detoxify and deep clean your skin and scalp. Activated charcoal face and body scrubs and detox shampoos can help get rid of deep-rooted toxins from your skin and hair. Face masks made with activated charcoal can deep clean pores and even clear up acne.
Disinfect Cuts and Infections
Activated charcoal can also be used to disinfect minor cuts and bites. Its detoxifying properties mean activated charcoal can be used to clean wounds and heal certain ulcers. It may also help in removing the smells that come from certain infections.
Get Rid of Bad Smells
Activated charcoal is commonly added to soaps and deodorants because it has the ability to soak up smells. Some shoe inserts are also made of activated charcoal for the same reason. You will also find many DIY activated charcoal powder deodorants that claim to stop body odor.
Activated charcoal is famously used in water filters to purify water. Chlorine, heavy metals, and other substances in tap water adsorb to the surface of activated charcoal and can then be easily removed, making the water safe to drink.
How to Take Activated Charcoal Powder
The dosage of activated charcoal depends on what you’re using it for. Medical professionals usually administer 50-100g of activated charcoal within an hour of the overdose to treat it. While it is recommended that you take anywhere from 4-32g of activated powder per day to promote kidney function and lower cholesterol.
If you’re using activated charcoal powder to generally detoxify your body, whiten your teeth, or deep clean your skin and hair, then follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. For example, we recommend mixing 1-2 teaspoons of our Coconut Activated Charcoal Powder and Hardwood Activated Charcoal Powder in water when using it for the face, teeth, or to treat indigestion.
Is Activated Charcoal Powder Safe?
Activated charcoal powder is generally safe to take. However, you might face some side effects when you first start using it like nausea, vomiting, dehydration, constipation, and black stools. Whether you get some or all of these side effects depends on a number of factors including pre existing medical conditions, the dosage of activated charcoal, and frequency of use, among others.
Note: If you’re taking any kind of medication or have serious symptoms pertaining to any of the diseases mentioned above, please seek medical advice before using activated charcoal.
The Final Word
Activated charcoal powder has many proven benefits for your health and wellness. You can use it to detoxify your digestive system, clear your skin, deep-clean your scalp and teeth, and improve your kidney function and cholesterol. To make sure you don’t suffer from any side effects make sure to get your activated charcoal powder from a trusted brand, follow dosage instructions, and seek medical advice in case of an overdose.