Ruby Pryde - Feb 9 2021

Activated Charcoal. Black magic or just another health gimmick?

It’s no secret that activated charcoal has become one of the more sought-after supplements on the market. Health guru’s, beauty bloggers and just about everyone in between seems to be swooning over this supposedly miracle working black powder.

So, we thought we’d take a look into what activated charcoal is, why it’s become a must have addition to your health routine, and whether or not we should (along with everyone else) be heading down to our local health food store to get our hands on some.

What exactly is activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal is a finely milled, black powder that is made from the process of burning coconut shells. The charcoal becomes activated by undergoing a steam process of high temperatures to increase and expand the surface area, allowing the charcoal to become more porous.

Activated charcoal, when consumed orally, has the ability to adsorb (Yes you read that right. Not to be confused with absorb) toxins, chemicals and other particles in the gut, helping to remove them through the colon. Activated charcoal has a negative charge which in turn, attracts positively charged particles like toxins or chemicals.

Activated charcoal has been used for centuries all over the world, dating back as far as Ancient Egypt. Egyptians were said to have used activated charcoal to treat numerous illnesses as well as helping to assist in the detoxification of the body.

Why it's become so damn popular

Unfortunately, we are exposed to an incredible amount of chemicals and toxins in our usual day to day. Outside of our homes, we have little control over the volume of chemicals we are exposed to, or what kind. Over time, our detoxification pathways have a tendency to become overloaded, sluggish and stagnant and as a result, more and more people are searching high and low for ways to assist their bodies natural ability to detoxify itself.

Beyond its role as an emergency poison treatment, activated charcoal is gaining momentum for its supposed detoxing benefits. And whilst many of these claims aren’t supported by extensive clinical research, these are some of the potential ways that the use of activated charcoal is said to assist our bodies. 

Oral Health
Antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal, activated charcoal is thought to bind to free radicals and improve overall dental hygiene, including the whitening of the teeth. You can now find activated charcoal in toothpaste, tooth floss, as well as infused in toothbrushes.

It’s important to note however, that many dentists warn against brushing with activated charcoal, with the abrasive properties potentially leading to enamel deterioration and tooth erosion.

Skin Health
Said to assist in drawing out impurities, toxins and other particles to improve the overall health and appearance of the skin, it may be an easy addition to your DIY facemask (Is this our green light to indulge in more face masks? Absolutely)

Diarrhoea and Nausea
Activated charcoal is said to be able to magnetise bacteria, binding to a variety of impurities and passing them through the body via bowel movements. Essentially, preventing the absorption of toxins that can cause tummy upset.

Working in much the same way to minimise the effects of a tummy bug, activated charcoal is thought to bind to toxins and bacteria within the gut (one too many margarita’s perhaps?) to help reduce the effects of the dreaded hangover.

Bloating and Gas
Whilst still unclear as to how, there is speculation that activated charcoal can reduce bloating and intestinal gas. It is thought that gases can pass through tiny holes in the activated charcoal which may help to neutralise them within the gut.

When, and how should it be taken?

ecause activated charcoal magnetises both the good and bad particles in the gut, there is no real requirement (unless of course medically advised) to be using it in large amounts, or for extended periods of time.

Having a few of the good bugs swept out with the bad ones every so often is no cause for alarm, but continuous use may not be overly beneficial for your gut microbiome and the diversity of the good bugs that keep us balanced, happy and healthy.

If you think that activated charcoal is for you, consuming a glass of the black stuff once or twice a month should be more than enough to reap the potential health benefits.

Another thing to keep in mind is that consuming food, supplements or medication around the time you consume activated charcoal is advised against. Because it magnetises both the good and bad particles in your gut, you run the risk of depleting nutrient absorption from your food intake, or limiting the effectiveness of your medication.

Allowing an hour or two before and after you consume food, supplements or medication allows your body the chance to properly digest, without any interference.

There’s no denying that in one way or another, activated charcoal has the ability to assist in the removal of harmful toxins from our guts. And whilst research is still limited, experimenting with the benefits and how they work for you is a relatively harmless (and interesting) way to take control of your health.

But as with anything health related, don’t go overboard, listen to your body and do your research before you jump head first into it. 

Article credit :
Feel The Lean ‘Bloom’ - Loni Jane