Find Out About the Benefits of Activated Charcoal

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Find out what activated charcoal is!

Activated charcoal, a versatile substance, has gained popularity in recent years as a health and wellness supplement.  It’s not just for treating intestinal gas, high cholesterol, hangovers, and stomach upsets. It’s now being integrated into cosmetics as an unclogging miracle and an all-natural teeth whitener, absorbing plaque and stains while changing the pH balance in the mouth.  From toothpaste to detox drinks, you can find activated charcoal in many grocery store aisles.  This substance has gained significant popularity in wellness and health maintenance due to its ability to trap and remove toxins and impurities from the body. It has several benefits, including improving kidney function by increasing the amount of waste the kidneys are required to filter, alleviating symptoms of fish odor syndrome, and blocking the absorption of cholesterol and bile acids in the digestive tract.

Find out how it’s made!

The process of making activated charcoal, a natural carbon-rich substance, involves using wood, coconut shells, olive pits, or coal in low oxygen concentrations. This helps to extract hydrogen methane and tar from the material, reduce its weight, and create a black, mostly carbon substance. To activate the remaining charcoal substance, we steam it at very high temperatures or mix it with chemical substances to eliminate any remaining noncarbon elements.

Find out how it’s been administered!

Since the early 1800s, people have used activated charcoal as a poison antidote. The emergency room (ER) frequently uses it to treat prescription drug overdoses and overdoses of over-the-counter medications like aspirin, acetaminophen, and sedatives. The typical dose in the emergency room is 50,000 milligrams, but activated charcoal supplements can be purchased online or in health stores at 250 milligram and 500 milligram capsules.  Black juice, a popular detox drink, contains about 10 milligrams of charcoal.

Find out how it works!

Activated charcoal works by trapping toxins and chemicals in the gut, preventing their absorption.  Its porous texture has a negative electric charge, which attracts positively charged molecules such as toxins and gases.  This helps the surface attract and trap toxins and chemicals in the digestive tract, allowing the body to carry them out through feces. Your body does not absorb activated charcoal, so it can carry the toxins bound to its surface out of your body.  However, it’s important to note that routine administration of activated charcoal is not practical in all cases of poisoning. It’s best to consult a healthcare professional for advice on its use. 

Find out the advantages of activated charcoal!

Activated charcoal is also popular among the cosmetic and DIY communities and has multiple uses. Some of these include dental hygiene, skincare, and acne treatment. Activated charcoal face masks are used to clear dirt and toxins out of pores; charcoal cleansers absorb surface oils and are commonly used topically as a paste to treat and soothe bug bites caused by acne. However, it’s important to note that activated charcoal cannot differentiate between harmless and harmful chemicals, so it takes in the skin’s natural oils and any harmful ones. This can lead to dry skin or loss of healthy oils and vitamins. To prevent these side effects, it’s recommended to only apply these treatments once or twice a week, along with the appropriate replenishing ingredients.

Activated charcoal may also help promote kidney function by reducing the number of waste products that the kidneys have to filter.  It may increase the amount of waste the kidneys require to filter.  This could be particularly beneficial for patients suffering from chronic kidney disease, a condition in which the kidneys can no longer properly filter waste products.  Healthy kidneys are usually well-equipped to filter blood without additional help, but patients with chronic kidney disease generally have a more challenging time removing urea and other pollutants from their bodies.  Activated charcoal may have the ability to bind to urea and other toxins, helping the body eliminate them.

Researchers have shown that activated charcoal can alleviate the symptoms of fish odor syndrome, a genetic condition where the body accumulates trimethylamine (TMA), a compound with a rotting fish-like odor. Healthy individuals can convert TMA into a non-smelly compound before excreting it in the urine, sweat, and breath, but people with TMAU lack the enzyme needed to perform this conversion, leading to a foul, fishy odor. Studies show that activated charcoal’s porous surface may help bind small odorous compounds like TMA, increasing their excretion.

Activated charcoal may also help reduce cholesterol levels by binding cholesterol and cholesterol-containing bile acids in the gut, preventing the body from absorbing them.  This will basically lower cholesterol levels by blocking the absorption of cholesterol.  In one study, taking 24 grams of activated charcoal per day for four weeks lowered total cholesterol by 25%, bad LDL cholesterol by 25%, and good HDL cholesterol levels increased by 8%. Another study found that taking 4-32 grams of activated charcoal daily helped people with high cholesterol levels reduce total and bad LDL cholesterol by 29 to 41%.  These promising results indicate the potential benefits of activated charcoal in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

However, activated charcoal is not a discriminating detoxifier. It can absorb vitamins, minerals, and medications, including antidepressants, birth control pills, over-the-counter painkillers, antiepileptics, beta-blockers, antiarrhythmic drugs, diabetes medications, and steroids from asthma inhalers. The enormous porous surface area of charcoal allows it to absorb molecules in close proximity to it, keeping them out of circulation and preventing drugs or toxins from being absorbed into the bloodstream.  This could be beneficial in the event of a drug overdose, but it would be counterproductive for effective maintenance drugs that you would take regularly.

Find out if activated charcoal is worth it or not!

While activated charcoal is generally considered safe, it’s important to exercise caution. Infrequent and rarely severe adverse reactions may occur, such as nausea and vomiting. When used as an emergency antidote for poisoning, it may travel into the lungs, especially if the person vomits or is drowsy. It may also worsen symptoms in individuals with rare genetic diseases affecting the skin, gut, and nervous system.  In sporadic cases, activated charcoal has been linked to bowel blockages or holes.  It may also reduce the absorption of certain medications, so individuals taking medication should consult their healthcare professional before using it. Activated charcoal may have potential benefits, such as lowering cholesterol, treating poisoning, reducing gas, and promoting kidney function. However, preliminary studies and current supporting evidence necessitate more high-quality studies before drawing strong conclusions.

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