Lately, Instagram has been flooded with black ice cream, hotdog buns, hamburger buns, juice, and toothpaste. Well, what is the Charcoal Craze all about and the real question is, is it really good for your health? Is it just a trend to post on Instagram or does it have health benefits worthwhile introducing to your diet? There are several benefits that will be revealed in this article but it is always best to consult your doctor before introducing any new supplements into your diet and be sure to read the side effects before taking any products with activated charcoal.
What is Charcoal and What is It Made Of?
Activated charcoal is not the charcoal that is used on your barbecue, which is filled with loads of chemical and toxins which should not be consumed. Activated Charcoal can be bought at most chemists or you can make it yourself, that’s how natural it is. We all know how amazing coconuts and their by-products are so it won’t be a surprise to learn that activated charcoal comes from coconuts! Activated Charcoal is made of coconut shells and calcium chloride or zinc chloride. The calcium or zinc are the key ingredients in activating the charcoal made from the dried coconut shells.
How Does Activated Charcoal Work?
Activated charcoal traps toxins and chemicals in its millions of tiny pores. The porous surface of activated charcoal has a negative electric charge that causes positive charged toxins and gas to bond with it. Activated charcoal is used as an antidote to different types of poisons. How it works is that the activated charcoal bonds with poisonous materials which stop the body from absorbing the poison, allowing it to pass through the digestive system. For this reason, it is vital to drink a minimum of 12-16 glasses of water a day when you are taking activated charcoal.
Activated charcoal can help treat different type of problems in the body such as:
-Reduce intestinal gas
-Lower cholesterol levels
- Prevent hangovers
-Treating Alcohol Poisoning
-Treat bile flow problems during pregnancy.
6 Benefits of Using Activated Charcoal
1. Prevent Your Hangover
There is a myth out there that activated charcoal absorbs alcohol but sorry to say ladies and gents, it doesn’t. Activated charcoal does, however, help quickly remove other toxins in your body that contribute to the poisoning your body is undergoing after drinking alcohol. Activated charcoal can attach to the artificial sweeteners and chemicals commonly used in alcohol which helps them move quicker through your digestive system, i.e removing the toxins reducing the hangover effects.
According to the study, First Aider’s Guide to Alcohol by Princeton University, it indicated that activated charcoal is given to patients with acute alcohol poisoning to assist the body in processing the poison quicker. Other studies show that activated charcoal can significantly reduce blood alcohol concentrations.
2. Alleviate Bloating & Cleanse Your Digestive System
Activated charcoal can be used to bind gas-causing by-products in foods that cause discomfort. According to a study by the American Journal of Gastroenterology, activated charcoal prevents intestinal gas following a typical gas-producing meal. It is recommended that 500 milligrams are taken an hour before the meal with a full glass of water. Have an additional glass of water immediately after which will help get the charcoal into your system where it will be able to bind with the gas-producing elements. Activated charcoal can also assist in the reduction of bloating and abdominal cramps.
3. Reduce High Cholesterol
Studies have shown that activated charcoal reduces the bad cholesterol in your body and increases the good cholesterol as much as prescription medications. In this study the patients were given 8 grams of activated charcoal three times a day for four weeks. The results showed a decrease of 25% in the total cholesterol levels. The low-density lipoprotein cholesterol was decreased by 41% and high-density lipoprotein increased by 8% in a short course of four weeks. Low and high-density lipoprotein are indicators in evaluating the future risk of heart disease.
4. Improve Skin and Body Health
Activated charcoal can also be used for external treatments. The most popular charcoal trend has been charcoal or black out face masks, which can help with treating acne by binding with the environmental toxins and dirt that contributes to acne. To treat acne mix one capsule of activated charcoal with two teaspoons of aloe-vera gel and smoothly spread it evenly across your face. Simply let it dry then rinse off completely. Applying activated charcoal to insect bites, rashes, poison ivy, bee stings, mosquito bites and snake bites can alleviate the pain as well as that stinging sensation so if you are planning a hike or camping trip be sure to take some activated charcoal with you!
5. Whiten Your Teeth
Activated charcoal absorbs the plaque and microscopic tidbits that stain your teeth so it has become the latest craze to naturally whiten your teeth. Using activated charcoal is a cost-effective way to improve your pearly whites because it is much cheaper than the whitening serums that are sold at the dentist. It has also been reviewed not to leave your teeth feeling sensitive and sore post use. For the best results brush your teeth with activated charcoal two-three times per week. Unfortunately, if you have crowns, caps, or porcelain veneers activated charcoal could possibly stain them so it’s best avoided.
Activated charcoal can help prevent cellular damage to your liver and kidneys. Activated charcoal can support healthy adrenal glands which are responsible for the production of a variety of hormones including steroids, cortisol, and adrenaline. It is imperative that your body cleanses itself of toxins and chemicals regularly. Activated charcoal can benefit your major organs by flushing the damaging toxins out. How does this relate to anti-aging and preventing wrinkles? Well, we are exposed to toxins daily through our food, our workplace, our home, and our environment and these toxins play a role in premature aging. Getting rid of these toxins with activated charcoal can help prevent premature ageing. Ingesting activated charcoal in 2 capsules a day after being exposed to nonorganic foods or toxic attributes in the air or environment will assist your body’s cognitive function. How so? It will help reduce the toxins that are creating a fog around your brain which will lead to healthier kidney, liver, and digestive function. This overall improvement will result in an improvement in your skin and a more lively appearance.
Side Effects of Charcoal Use
Activated charcoal has been deemed safe for most people to use, however, if you suffer from certain medical conditions activated charcoal could cause you harm. If you suffer from any of the following medical conditions it is best to consult with a doctor before using activated charcoal; intestinal bleeding or blockages, holes in your intestine, chronic dehydration, abdominal surgery, troubles with digestion or slow digestion. Activated charcoal can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, supplements or prescriptions. It is also not advised to take part in a full activated charcoal diet - it must only be consumed in small increments and moderation.
Axe, J. (2016). Top 10 Activated Charcoal Uses & Benefits. Dr.Axe.com. Retrieved November 1, 2016 from https://draxe.com/activated-charcoal-uses/
(2016). Activated Charcoal. WebMD. Retrieved November 1,2016 from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-269-activated%20charcoal.aspx?activeingredientid=269&
Willis, C. (2016, 6 June). Is charcoal food a thing that’s here to stay? News.com.au. Retrieved from http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/food/eat/is-charcoal-food-a-thing-thats-here-to-stay/news-story/79ae61140a8c3ca950e5c6c605fb47db
Elkus, G. (n.d.) Charcoal is the Latest Food Trend: But Is It Safe? RealSimple.com. Retrieved from http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/activated-charcoal-in-food