What Is Activated Charcoal Used and Good For?
Activated charcoal is sometimes used to help treat a drug overdose or a poisoning. When you take activated charcoal, drugs and toxins can bind to it. This helps rid the body of unwanted substances.
- Source: Activated Charcoal: Uses and Risks – WebMD
The charcoal “binds” the harmful substances in the forms of molecules from entering into the blood stream.
- Source: Should You Be Eating Activated Charcoal? – University of Utah Healthcare
Curious if they are any good?
Let’s explore some of the ways being used.
One of the most popular uses is for teeth whitening.
You will see activated charcoal often advertised where it claims to remove stains and lighten the color of your teeth.
A common question with using how exactly does it work and is it safe? We don’t know if it’s okay to use it for oral hygiene, yet.
The American Dental Association recently released a literature review of all the scientific studies performed with activated charcoal products. The conclusion they came to is that there is currently not enough research to support the claims of charcoal as an oral hygiene product or to determine its safety for use on teeth.
Source Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening – Definitiondental.com
How to Use it for Whitening – If you want to give a try for whitening your teeth, you should have a toothbrush you use only for this purpose.
- Open up the charcoal container, then dip your toothbrush in water.
- Give it a shake so there isn’t a lot of water on it, then dip it into the charcoal.
- Brush your teeth as you normally would, paying good attention to the fronts of your teeth.
- When you spit it out, you might want to get a little water to swish around.
- Rinse your mouth until your spit is completely clear.
Be extra careful with charcoal when brushing your teeth with it, since it might stain your clothing if you aren’t careful.
Balancing the pH Level in Your Mouth
- Another popular belief is that it can balance the pH levels in your mouth.
With Skin and Hair
Activated charcoal also has some great uses for beauty, including your skin and hair.
Either you can buy skincare or hair products with activated charcoal ingredients or you can make your own with the charcoal powder.
- Add natural ingredients like honey and essential oils to make facial masks or simply add water to turn it into paste.
- Add it to your shampoo and use it for your hair, but there is a slight risk of it causing discoloration.
Use it to Detox Your Body
As you probably have guessed, many people use activated charcoal to help detox body.
There are capsules of activated charcoal that you can try taking in order to help detox your body, or you can apply the powder to your skin after mixing it with water to create a paste.
Some people even ingest by adding the power to juice or lemonade and calling it black lemonade.
- Read Activated Charcoal Doesn’t Detox the Body – Four Reasons to Avoid It – theconversation.com
Gas and Bloating
According to the Journal of Gastroenterology, you can also try taking activated charcoal if you are experiencing gas or bloating.
- Take it before a meal that might produce, as opposed to after you already have gas.
- Make sure you are drinking plenty of water with, before, and after taking the activated charcoal.
For Hangovers and After Drinking
When you start researching activated charcoal, one thing you will probably notice is that it is often advertised as something to help prevent hangovers.
People are running to their local health food store to pick up charcoal pills that they take before drinking to try to prevent their hangover.
It should not be used as a way to encourage you to drink heavier, however, so practice caution and always drink responsibly.
- Read I Tried the Activated Charcoal Hangover Pill Everyone Is Talking About – Byrdie.com
- Read Supplements for a Party Week of Heavy Drinking? and other Activated Charcoal hangover questions – Reddit.com
Tips for Using Activated Charcoal
Before trying out activated charcoal, read the following.
Be Careful With Other Medications
The long term effect of activated charcoal is yet unknown, so practice caution especially if you’re taking other medications.
Watch Out for the Mess
Charcoal in powder form can get very messy, so be careful!
- If you are using it for a face mask, body scrub, or to whiten your teeth, never wear your nice clothes when using it.
- Either wear old clothes you wear when dying your hair or painting, or just wear a towel or bath robe.
- Have an old towel in your bathroom when using the charcoal for this use specifically, since that might get stained.
- Do not spill it on your sink or countertops, as some materials might stain.
Don’t Ingest it Daily
While activated charcoal is believe to remove various bacteria and toxins from your body, it isn’t good to use on a daily basis if you are ingesting it and could make you ill from malnutrition.
- Read Everything You Need to Know About Eating Activated Charcoal – Eater.com
Drink Plenty of Water With it
Another tip to follow when suing activated charcoal by ingestion is to drink a lot of water when taking it.
- The powder can be hard to go down and get stuck in your throat if you aren’t careful.
- Drink lots of water before, during, and after using the charcoal.
Rinse Your Mouth Well
Also be careful to rinse your mouth really well any time you brush your teeth to whiten them with activated charcoal, or you take it by mouth with water.
- Keep rinsing your mouth until you can swish water, spit it out, and it is completely clear.
Depending on how much you had of it in your mouth or on your teeth, this can take a few minutes of rinsing.
What Are the Side Effects of Activated Charcoal?
While activated charcoal has not shown to have severe side effects, the studies are still in their beginning stages.
Potential Side Effects
The good news is that the side effects aren’t too extreme.
There are some other side effects people have reported, which include…
- For using it for whitening your teeth is that it might make your tongue a little black
- Black or darker stools when ingesting the charcoal
- Having vomiting or diarrhea
- Read Activated Charcoal Uses and Risks – webmd.com
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Activated charcoal might be safe when used short-term if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, but consult with your healthcare professional before using if you are pregnant.
Source Are Their Safety Concerns? – Rxlist.com
Common But Unsubstantiated Questions About Activated Charcoal
Does activated charcoal help you lose weight?
- Not enough studies have substantiated this claim although the cleansing effect of the product may wash out toxins in the body.
Does activated charcoal help you poop?
- Not enough studies have supported this result.
Activated charcoal when used for health or beauty is typically from all-natural sources like coconut husks, but you should still practice caution and know of the risks. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- You should not be taking activated charcoal with medications, unless directed by your doctor.
- Avoid ingestion of charcoal during pregnancy or while breastfeeding without talking to your doctor first.
- Do not give it to children without asking your pediatrician.
- Take only small doses first to see how your body reacts.
As long as you follow these simple guidelines, you can avoid any potential risks when using or ingesting activated charcoal.
In general, natural remedies are meant to have very few side effects and risks, but you should always be extra careful when trying anything new.