What is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is a far cry from the stuff you used during your last braai. While the carbon source might be the same, the manufacturing process is different. And that difference results in some pretty cool health benefits.
Activated charcoal is pure carbon. It’s made from wood, debris, peat, or other carbon sources (e.g., coconut husks). Peat is an organic material found in damp areas, which is made from partially decayed vegetable matter. There are two ways to activate charcoal:
Manufacturers heat the carbon source to extremely high temperatures (between 600 and 900 degrees Celsius). They use hot gases in an inert atmosphere (e.g. nitrogen or argon). Then the carbonized material is reintroduced into an oxidised atmosphere, again at extremely high temperatures.
Manufacturers can also introduce an acid, a strong base, or a salt to the carbon source before heating it. This method decreases the temperature at which carbonization and activation occur.
Either way, this process results in an extremely fine, black powder. This powder has millions of tiny pores and a massive surface area. One group of researchers developed activated carbon with a surface area of over 3,000 meters per single gram. Therefore, activated charcoal is ideal for trapping toxins.
Activated Charcoal uses:
The World Health Organization includes activated charcoal as an “essential medicine” for treatment in emergency detox situations. It’s actually been a mainstay in hospitals for quite some time.
Tourey was a French pharmacist, pioneer, and activated-charcoal researcher. To prove the impact of activated charcoal, he intentionally ingested it with a lethal dose of strychnine, and lived to tell the tale. This dramatic demonstration occurred all the way back in 1831!
Ideally, you’d never have to worry about these types of accidental-poisoning scenarios. But sometimes, even when you do take every sensible precaution, things happen. Perhaps you have curious pets or young children, who won’t be aware of the potential consequences before ingesting something dangerous.
Are you struggling with cramps, nausea, or diarrhea?
Activated charcoal supplements can help. If you take them after a meal that’s causing you problems, they can adsorb digestive byproducts, which can cause unpleasant digestive symtoms (e.g, gas).
A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology focused on one population group in India and another in the United States. They wanted to compare the effect activated charcoal had on different diets and gut flora. In both groups, they found that it significantly reduced bloating, gas in the lower intestine, and abdominal cramps.
I’ve been following the Paleo diet for a long time, but I occasionally go “off menu.” That’s when I really notice the aforementioned symptoms. Maybe you’ve been good with your diet, then have some non-Paleo foods on a special occasion. If so, you might experience these symptoms too.
In situations when you aren’t in your own kitchen and can’t confirm the food’s quality firsthand, a few activated charcoal capsules after your meal can help ease any digestive issues.
Last but not least!!!
This benefit is yet another example of don’t judge a book by its cover: It seems like brushing your teeth with activated charcoal would stain them, but it actually has the opposite effect.
Different cultures around the world have been aware of this irony for quite some time. A 2014 study published in the Annals of Medical and Health Sciences Research focused on Nigerian patients who used self-medication practices to improve their oral health. The researchers found that activated charcoal was effective at changing pH levels of the mouth, whitening teeth, and improving overall oral health.
If you’d like to try brushing your teeth with activated charcoal, the easiest way is to wet your toothbrush and dip it into charcoal powder. Brush your teeth (as you would with toothpaste) for a few minutes, sip some water, swish it around your mouth, and spit it out. You can see results, even if you only brush with it once a week.
MySmile Teeth Whitening (Pty) Ltd. South Africa