Activated Charcoal

History

Activated charcoal is popular on the health, wellness and foodie scene right now, used for its detoxing properties in the likes of smoothies, tonics, face masks, oral care, and even sometimes used for aesthetic reasons to make unique food like charcoal burger buns or charcoal mayo. Activated charcoal has been around since at least 3750 BC, at which time the Egyptians and Sumerians produced charcoal because it burns hotter than wood and it was used to melt and combine metals. During this time, it was eventually discovered that charcoal could also act as a preservative, and the anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of charcoal have since been utilised for centuries.

It was around 1500 BC that the first medicinal use of charcoal was noted. Firstly, its primary use was to alleviate unpleasant odours associated with wounds. Then, Hippocrates recorded the use of charcoal for treating a wide range of ailments, including epilepsy, chlorosis and vertigo. By the mid 1800s, charcoal was a well-known treatment for a number of health conditions, such as ulcers and gangrene. After the development of the charcoal activation process (somewhere between 1870 to 1920), many reports appeared in medical journals about activated charcoal as an antidote for poisons and a cure for intestinal disorders. By the end of the 20th Century, activated charcoal was employed by many modern hospitals and clinics in the world for hundreds of varied applications.

Today, activated charcoal continues to be used in emergency situations, alongside its growing popularity in health food and beverages.

Activated Charcoal

Health Benefits

Activated charcoal is made from substances like bamboo or coconut shell that are treated at a high heat. This ‘activation’ process makes the charcoal extremely porous at the cellular level, which is what allows it to attract substances toxins and carry them out of the body.

The toxin-absorbing properties are where the health benefits of activated charcoal lie. Activated charcoal has a wide range of medicinal and cosmetic uses. Activated charcoal is considered to be safe and effective for use in emergency situations to detoxify poisons from the body. Administering activated charcoal promptly and at sufficient doses allows it to bind to unwanted toxins, reduce their absorption in the gut and minimise the detrimental effects they may have in the body. Activated charcoal is also researched as having absorptive power of gases, with studies showing it to minimise the amount of gas produced by beans and other gas-producing foods.

It is highly sought after at the moment for its detoxifying benefits, assisting your body’s natural detoxification pathways in filtering out undigested heavy metals and toxins. This has been found to be especially beneficial for those suffering from kidney disease, in which the kidneys can no longer filter waste efficiently. It can also be helpful for those with high cholesterol by binding to cholesterol acids in the gut and limiting the amount that the body absorbs.

You may have seen activated charcoal appearing in teeth-whitening products. The toxin-absorbing properties of activated charcoal are important here, as it has been found to be effective in absorbing plaque and other compounds that stain teeth.

Face masks, cleansers and other skincare products harness the benefits of activated charcoal, which helps to draw micro-particles like dirt, dust and bacteria to the surface of the skin, making them easier to remove.

Fun Facts

  • Activated charcoal is not absorbed by the body, which is why it can carry toxins out.
  • Activated charcoal cannot help clear the following toxins from your body – alcohol, iron, lithium, petroleum products.
  • Activated charcoal can act as a natural water filter, interacting with and absorbing a range of toxins, drugs, bacteria, fungus and chemicals found in water. There are many at-home water filtration products using charcoal cartridges to clear water of impurities.

Recipes

Charcoal Latte – Spice up your mornings with a pretty, fancy and tasty superfood latte. A naturally detoxifying alternative to coffee and tea.

charcoal latte finished 1

You can stock up on your activated charcoal online here.

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