Benefits of Activated Charcoal
When you understand the benefits of activated charcoal you won't want to be without it.
What is Charcoal?
Above all charcoal is black and messy. It is formed from woody substances that have been charred by fire. It has the characteristics of being able to take up toxic gases, disease germs, toxins from fluids and heavy metals. It is also called activated charcoal or activated carbon.
Adsorbs? Why do we say adsorbs rather than absorbs? The reason is that the materials that charcoal takes up are attracted to and held by the surface of the charcoal particles rather than going inside it. That is why a finely-ground charcoal product is important - it presents much more surface area. Powdered activated charcoal has a very small particle size of 1-150 microns. The internal surface area is from 500 to 1500 square meters per gram.
Good charcoal is made from a source of wood, coconut shells etc and is ground into a very fine powder. It can be obtained in tablet or capsule forms but the adsorption time will be longer than when using the straight powder. Note that charred toast it not charcoal.
Safety of charcoal Charcoal has been studied for toxicity due to ingestion, skin contact and inhalation and all studies have shown it to be harmless. The most likely side-effect with internal use, if a person is going to have any, is slight constipation at higher doses but this is easily counteracted.
Benefits of Activated Charcoal
"Charcoal is without a rival as an agent for cleansing and assisting the healing of the body. The grains of charcoal have many crevices and corners for the absorption of materials, gases, foreign proteins, body wastes, chemicals and drugs of various kinds making it a powerful assistant for the cleansing apparatus of the body. ... The uses of charcoal are almost as universal as those of water." (Thrash, Agathy Moody, M.D. and Thrash, Calvin, M.D. Home Remedies Hydrotherapy, Massage, Charcoal and Other Simple Treatments. 1981. Thrash Publications, Seale AB. 174p)
Adsorbs poisons "Charcoal is the most valuable single agent currently available for treating poisonings." (Clinical Toxicology 3(1):1-4 March 1970)
More effective than the standard medicine-chest-item Syrup of Ipecac. This syrup - itself a poison - was found in one study (Robertson, W.O. 1962. Syrup of ipecac: A fast or slow emetic? Amer. J. Dis. Child. 103:136) of 250 patients given a 20 ml dose to take on average of 19 minutes to induce vomiting. And even then the average recovery of stomach contents can be only 27% in ipecac-induced vomiting (Corby, D.G., Fiser, R.H. and Decker, W.J. 1970. Clinical comparison of pharmacological emetics in children. Pediatrics 42:361)
The recommended dosage is an 8:1 ratio of charcoal to drug or poison that is to be adsorbed. (Cooney, David. 1995 Activated Charcoal Antidote, Remedy and Health Aid. TEACH Services Inc. Brushton, NY)
Charcoal should be administered as soon as possible after ingestion of a poison/drug.
Adsorbs bacteria, viruses etc. It will even adsorb anthrax (Cooney, David. 1995 Activated Charcoal Antidote, Remedy and Health Aid. TEACH Services Inc. Brushton, NY)
One study showed that bacterial adsorption by wound dressings made of an activated charcoal cloth helped cleanse infected wounds. (Beckett, R. Coombs, T.J., Frost, M.R., McLeish, J. and Thompson, K. 1980. Charcoal cloth and malodorous wounds. Lancet, September13, 594)
In vitro experiments showed bacterial counts decreased by 1000 to 100,000 fold. Many types of bacteria are adsorbed. In some other cases the benefits observed are likely from the adsorption of the toxins or enzymes produced by the bacteria. (Tsuchiya, T., and Levy, G. 1972. Drug adsorption efficacy of commercial activated charcoal tablets in vitro and in vivo. J. Pharm. Sci. 61:624)
Adsorbs intestinal gas Studies have shown that charcoal can keep intestinal gas production at normal levels even after consumption of a high gas-producing meal. (Hall, R.G., Jr., Thompson, E. and Strother, A. 1981. Effects of orally administered activated charcoal on intestinal gas. Am. J. Gastroenterol. 75:192)
Insect bites and stings and snake bites can be alleviated using a poultice of charcoal and water or charcoal, water and ground flax seed. It often brings relief in a short time.
Brown recluse spider Charcoal is the treatment of choice for these serious bites and for which there is no other treatment.
Lowers Cholesterol Scientific research has found that "two tablespoons (8g) of activated charcoal taken three times a day for four weeks, can lower total cholesterol 25%, lower LDL cholesterol 41%, and double the HDL/LDL (high-density lipoprotein/low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol ratio. (P. Kuusisto, et al., Effect of activated charcoal on hypercholesterolemia, The Lancet, 16: 366-67, August 1986)
Lengthens lifespan? Most people think of poisoning as a single event but many people are poisoned in tiny daily doses that still kill them prematurely. The body deals with waste products from digestion and metabolism daily and with our increasingly toxic world our detoxification mechanisms can use some extra help to keep us from a premature death.
One study reported a prolonging of lifespan in rats by 34% as compared to controls. Since charcoal can adsorb toxic metabolites in the intestinal tract this mechanism could potentially remove some of such toxic substances from a person's system. The same study noted a decrease in age-related metabolic changes including decreases in blood cholesterol and triglycerides. (Frolkis, V.V. et al. 1984. Enterosorption in prolonging old animal lifespan. Exp. Gerontol. 19:217)
"Detoxification is an on-going biological process that prevents toxins (from infectious agents, food, air, water and substances that contact the skin) from destroying health. Chronic exposure to toxins produces cellular damage, diverse diseases, allergic like reactions, compromised immunity and premature aging." (Kaufman, Richard C., PhD, The Universal Antidote and Detoxifier that Extends Life: Activated Charcoal, Journal of the MegaHealth Society, July 1989) He recommends regular use to help protect from toxins.