Activated Charcoal Benefits and Uses

You may have seen infographics like the one below floating around Pinterest.

While Pinterest is obviously amazing, it’s not always the most reliable place to get your health information.

This week we are taking a look at the current darling of the natural products world, activated charcoal.

Have you heard of it?

Activated charcoal is made from your plain, everyday charcoal from wood and other mediums.

It’s exposed to high heat and an oxidizing agent, activating it, making it safe to consume and creating a fine powder with incredibly high surface area and microscopic pores that act like magnets, attracting all kinds of toxins and preventing absorption.

From Beauty Charcoal

So, does it work?

Activated charcoal has been used to filter out toxins of things like drinking water and fish tanks for years and, because of those magnet like pores, it is quite effective.

It’s also been used by doctor’s to mitigate the damage from an overdose or poisoning as it absorbs much of the toxin in the stomach, preventing it from getting absorbed by the body.

It clearly is effective when it comes to “detox”. It is safe to consume and an effective teeth whitener.

But, (you knew there was a but, right? There is always a but) when it comes to consuming it on a regular basis, there are few benefits and a few risks to be aware of:

  • Activated charcoal increases the risk of constipation, to combat this be sure to drink plenty of water if you are an activated charcoal devotee
  • Because of it’s absorptive properties activated charcoal can reduce the effectiveness of medications.
  • It can interfere with the body’s absorption of vitamins and minerals.
  • It is effective at detox… at least when consumed quickly after a toxin or poison is ingested. As far as general detox in the body- your kidneys and liver are made to detox your body, taking anything to “detox” is generally a marketing gimmick and a waste of money.

Used in the short term, activated charcoal is good for reducing the effects of food poisoning, gas and can help slow down a bout of diarrhea.

If you often have gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or feel like your body isn’t “detoxing” correctly and think foods may be to blame learn more about food sensitivities┬áhere.

Thinking about trying out activated charcoal? Find it on Amazon.

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