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This Month In Health
  • The Challenge of Chafing
    Chafing is a common problem that is typically associated with people who are overweight. However, this problem isn’t confined to those who need to lose a few pounds. Read >>
  • A Look at Activated Charcoal
    There are detox diets, detox teas, and detox supplements. Now, activated charcoal is touted as another way to detox and pick up other health perks. What's the scoop? You're about to find out. Read >>
  • Stay in the Safe Zone
    High blood pressure puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, heart failure, kidney problems, vision loss, memory problems, and dementia. Don't want to take medication? Here are four tried and true ways to lower blood pressure the natural way. Read >>
  • COVID’s After Effects
    While it typically takes two to six weeks to fully recover from COVID-19, some people deal with symptoms and complications long after recovering, regardless of the initial severity of their symptoms. If you’re curious about long COVID and what you can do about it, keep reading. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

A Look at Activated Charcoal

What is it and how is it used?

The idea of detoxing your body is growing more popular every day. There are detox diets, detox teas, and detox supplements. And every one of them promises to rid your body of harmful toxins.

Activated charcoal is often promoted as a way to detox, but its touted benefits don’t stop there. You’ll find this charcoal powder in skincare products, toothpastes, water filters, and natural remedies to treat a variety of health conditions.

What is activated charcoal, how is it used, and is it actually safe and effective?

What Is It?

Activated charcoal is made by burning materials that are high in carbon at high temperatures. When things like coal, wood, or coconut shells are burned at temperatures between 1,110 and 1,650˚ Fahrenheit, they turn into odorless, fine, dark powder. This powder is charred with salts, diluted with an acid solution, and combined with a gas to create a porous substance known as activated charcoal.

What’s It Used For?

When ingested, toxins and drugs bind to charcoal and are eliminated by the body before being absorbed. For this reason, activated charcoal was originally used in emergency rooms as a way to treat drug overdoses and poisonings. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all treatment. It’s used on a case-by-case basis and is only effective if administered within several hours after ingestion of the drug or poison.

Applying activated charcoal to certain types of wounds may aid in their healing by removing infection or toxins. And charcoal has a negative electrical charge, causing it to attract and trap positively charged gases. Because of this, people who deal with excessive gas and bloating may find relief by taking activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal may even benefit people with kidney disease and those whose kidneys aren’t working 100 percent. When the kidneys aren’t able to filter waste products from the blood, charcoal may help remove excess toxins and urea from the body. Just be sure to talk with your doctor before trying it out.

Have high cholesterol? Activated charcoal may help lower your levels by binding to cholesterol and bile acids so your body won’t absorb them. That said, more studies in this area are needed.

Spend much time in the cosmetic aisle, and you’ll find activated charcoal in quite a few places. Skincare products include activated charcoal and claim it helps cleanse the skin, unclog pores, remove dead skin cells, treat acne, and heal insect bites or skin irritations. When in hair products, it’s promoted as having all sorts of benefits. It removes dirt and oils without removing your hair’s moisture, increases hair volume, and treats dandruff. The black powder may also help whiten teeth by absorbing plaque and stains.

Finally, some people use activated charcoal to relieve hangover symptoms. So far, the studies are inconclusive.

Is It Safe or Effective?

In most cases, activated charcoal is considered safe, but negative side effects or adverse reactions are possible. The most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, black stools, and constipation. When used in emergency situations to treat poisoning or overdose, there is risk of the powder being inhaled into the lungs rather than the stomach. Because of this, the treatment is only administered to patients who are fully awake and alert.

Because many uses of activated charcoal have not been scientifically proven, be careful before using it. If you’re on medication, take extra precaution, as activated charcoal may interfere with your medication or reduce your body’s ability to absorb it.

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