Activated charcoal has been used for many years in Ayurveda and ancient Chinese medicine (its first recorded use dates back to 1550 BC) but has just recently risen in popularity in beauty magazines and blogs across the web. Activated charcoal has become well known for its potent detoxification properties and potential health benefits. It has also been well established in western medicine as a powerful agent that absorbs many organic toxins, chemicals and poisons before they can cause harm to the body.
Unlike the charcoal you use for summer grilling, this agent has medicinal properties. Activated charcoal is the byproduct of some substance, usually bamboo, wood, coal or coconut shell that is burnt to a char then heated to high temperatures and treated with oxygen. This process is what “activates” the charcoal creating an extremely porous substance with the ability to bind to toxins and odors up to 1,000 times its weight. This allows toxins and chemicals in the body to be flushed from the system without being absorbed. One of the most popular uses for activated charcoal is in emergency and trauma centers across the county for the treatment of accidental poisonings and drug overdoses.
There are many uses for activated charcoal outside of the emergency room including as a detoxifying agent to promote better health. However, activated charcoal also binds to vitamins, minerals and certain medications and can also lead to dehydration if not taken in tandem with plenty of fluids. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use activated charcoal without ingesting it!
- Whitening Teeth: It works by absorbing plaque and other microscopic substances that stain teeth. Simply wet a toothbrush, dip into powdered activated charcoal and brush normally. Rinse well until spit is clear. Be especially careful however, as it can stain tile, grout and fabrics.
- Purifying Water: If you don’t own a Brita, toss an activated charcoal stick in a pitcher or your water bottle and sip for up to four months. Charcoal water filters remove harmful contaminants like pesticides and chlorine from tap water and reduce heavy metals like lead.
- Treating Acne: Acting like a magnet for dirt, oil and other impurities, activated charcoal can help relieve troublesome acne caused by daily environmental toxins. Mix one capsule of activated charcoal with two teaspoons of aloe vera gel, and smooth over face. Let dry and rinse off completely.
Always seek activated charcoal that is made from a sustainable a source like coconut shells. Avoid products that are made with fillers or artificial sweeteners. Store in a sealed container like a glass jar as it will easily absorb impurities in the air.