Due to our recent discovery of the lead content of bentonite clay MotherJai.com has opted for an ingredient with no known contamination, activated charcoal. Here is the latest research and information backing the use and benefits of using activated charcoal for mouth care.
Activated charcoal, also called activated carbon, activated coal or carbo activatus, has been processed to make it very porous with an exceptionally large surface area, which makes it particularly adsorptive (electronically absorptive). According to the book “Medical Biochemistry: Human Metabolism in Health and Disease,” activated charcoal absorbs a variety of poisons and toxins, but does not bind well to alcohols, strong acids and bases, carbon monoxide, iron, lead, arsenic, fluorine, boric acid or many petroleum products such as industrial cleaners and lubricants.
Activated charcoal is used to treat poisonings, reduce intestinal gas (flatulence), lower cholesterol levels, prevent hangover, and treat bile flow problems (cholestasis) during pregnancy.
How Activated Charcoal Works (AmazingHealth.com)
Activated charcoal works by adsorption, which is an electrical action, rather than absorption, which is a mechanical action. Activated charcoal adsorbs most organic and inorganic chemicals that do not belong in the body, but no studies have been able to prove that it adsorbs nutrients, as some people are afraid of. It will adsorb any medications however, and, other than in the case of an overdose, activated charcoal needs to be taken two hours before or after any medications.
Charcoal added to the diet of sheep for six months did not cause a loss of nutrients, as compared with sheep not receiving charcoal. Blood tests showed no significant difference between the two groups of animals, and there were no visible signs of any nutritional deficiency. A level of 5% of the total diet was given as charcoal. It did not affect the blood or urinary levels of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, inorganic phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, creatinine, uric acid, urea nitrogen, alkaline phosphatase, total protein, or urine pH.
The form of charcoal used in modern medical science is activated charcoal USP, a pure wood charcoal carbon that has no carcinogenic properties. Activated charcoal is an odorless, tasteless powder. One teaspoonful of it has a surface area of more than 10,000 square feet. This unique feature allows it to adsorbs large amounts of chemicals or poisons. The powder must be stored in a tightly sealed container, as it readily adsorbs impurities from the atmosphere.
Activated charcoal can be used internally and externally for humans and pets for the following:
- Antidote for food poisoning or accidental ingestion of poisons, poisonous spider, snake, or bug bites, or poison ivy
- Eliminate toxins that can contribute to anemia in cancer patients
- Filter toxins from blood, in cases of liver or kidney disease
- Deodorize colostomies and disinfect wounds (shouldn’t be used on open wounds or you may end up with a tattoo)
- Remove tartar and plaque buildup when used as toothpaste
- Alleviate allergy headaches, minor arthritic symptoms, menstrual pains, diarrhea, painful urination, flatulence, sore throat irritation, flu-like symptoms, drug overdose, cold sores, tooth abscesses, and toxin from foods.
Activated charcoal powder will not cause someone to have constipation, but if a person has a problem with constipation and then drinks charcoal slurry, the activated charcoal will back up the colon due to blockages already present in the colon. Research has shown that if a person has a problem with constipation and does a colon cleanse and addressed the cause of constipation, then that person can drink charcoal slurry without having the activated charcoal build up in the colon.
Health Benefits & Risks of Activated Charcoal BY JOSEPH PRITCHARD
Charcoal has been used in medicine since the ancient Egyptians used it to absorb the odor of rotting wounds, Drugs.com states. Useful for its ability to absorb impurities, charcoal plays an important role in filtering drinking water and fish tanks and treating acute poisoning. Activated charcoal, also known as medicinal charcoal, is a fluffy, fine, black, odorless, tasteless powder without gritty material.
Benefits of Internal Consumption
In an emergency, activated charcoal can be used to treat certain kinds of poisoning, according to MayoClinic.com. Being extremely absorbent, activated charcoal helps prevent the poison from being absorbed from the stomach and passed into the body. In the case of severe poisoning, several doses of activated charcoal may be needed to treat the victim. Activated charcoal is not effective against poisons that are corrosive agents like lye, strong acids, iron, boric acid, lithium and alcohols. Furthermore, charcoal should not be used to counteract petroleum products such as leaning fluid, coal oil, fuel oil, gasoline, kerosene and paint thinner because charcoal will not prevent these substances from being absorbed into the body.
Side Effects of Internal Consumption
Common side effects of activated charcoal include nausea, vomiting and constipation, Drugs.com states. Other side effects include bowel obstruction, black-colored stool and a chalk-like taste have also been reported. About 20 percent of patients’ experience vomiting about 10 minutes after ingesting activated charcoal. One case reports that a patient developed a bezoar or mass in his small bowel that caused an obstruction following the administration of 30 to 60 g of activated charcoal via nasogastric tube every four to six hours for five days.
Proper Internal Use in Cases of Poisoning
Activated charcoal is used only for treating some cases of poisoning. Proper doses vary from patient to patient and you must not change your dosage unless your doctor tells you to do so. The powder form of activated charcoal is taken as a mixture of the powder and water with the amount of powder dependent on the age of the patient. For adults and teenagers, a single dose treatment is usually 25 to 100 g, MayoClinic,com states. For children from 1 to 12 years old, the dose is usually 25 to 50 g or the dose may be based on body weight, typically 0.5 to 1 g per kg. For children up to one year old, the dose is usually 10 to 26 g.
In addition, activated charcoal can be used in cases of food poisoning when nausea and diarrhea are present. Adults take 25 grams at onset of symptoms or when food poisoning is suspected, and children should be given 10 grams. Increase dosage as necessary. Remember, it’s essential that adequate water is consumed when activated charcoal is taken.
Risks Associated with Internal Consumption
Do not combine activated charcoal with drugs used for constipation (cathartics such as sorbitol or magnesium citrate). This can cause electrolyte imbalances and other problems.
Interactions when Consumed Internally
Additionally, activated charcoal can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, supplements and interfere with prescription medications. Take activated charcoal 90 minutes to two hours prior to meals, supplements and prescription medications. Potential adverse interactions with the following drugs can occur:
- Naltrexone (used for alcohol and opioid dependence)
- Morphine Sulfate Liposome
- Mycophenolate Mofetil
- Mycophenolic Acid
- Tricyclic antidepressants
Do not use activated charcoal as a supplement if you take these medications. Activated charcoal may also reduce absorption of certain nutrients.
Activated Charcoal External Uses & Benefits (DrAxe.com)
Whitens Teeth – Activated charcoal helps whiten teeth while promoting good oral health by changing the pH balance in the mouth, helping prevent cavities, bad breath and gum disease. It works to whiten teeth by adsorbing plaque and microscopic tidbits that stain teeth. This activated charcoal use is cost-effective and an all-natural solution for a bright smile.
To whiten your teeth naturally, wet a toothbrush and dip into powdered activated charcoal. Brush teeth as normal, paying special attention to areas showing the most staining. Sip a bit of water, swish through mouth thoroughly and spit. Rinse well, until spit is clear.
Note: Be careful, for it can (and will) stain grout and fabrics. Protect counters, floors and clothing before using. If you have crowns, caps or porcelain veneers, it’s possible that activated charcoal will stain them. In addition, if your teeth become sensitive, quit using it.
Mold Cleansing – Most people don’t think about mold living in their bodies, but it can. Toxic mold causes depression, kidney and liver failure, decreased brain function, heart disease, eye irritation, headaches, vomiting, impaired immune system function and severe respiratory distress.
Homes that have flooded, or even those with small leaks under a sub-floor or in the walls, can create an environment where mold can thrive. Poor ventilation contributes to the problem, and bathrooms, basements and laundry rooms are particularly prone to mold growth.
If there is visible mold in your home, it must be mitigated properly. It’s important to wear gloves and a protective mask to keep from inhaling toxic mold during cleanup. Activated charcoal, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil and borax can be used to clean mold off hard surfaces and keep mold from growing in the future.
If you or your family experience symptoms including wheezing, rashes, watery eyes, coughing or headaches that aren’t explained in other ways, your home should be evaluated for mold spore levels, even if no visible mold is detected. It can thrive behind drywall, under floors and in ventilation ducts.
Water Filtration – Activated charcoal traps impurities in water including solvents, pesticides, industrial waste and other chemicals. This is why it’s used in water filtration systems throughout the world. However, it doesn’t trap viruses, bacteria and hard-water minerals. According to a study published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association, activated carbon filters (activated charcoal), removes some fluoride. Avoiding fluoride and detoxing from it is important for oral health, proper immune system functioning, and healthy kidneys and liver.
Drinking water is essential to good health; however, typical tap water is toxic and laden with chemicals, toxins and fluoride. Ingestion should be limited whenever possible. Activated charcoal water filters are available for whole-home systems, as well as countertop models. Drink 8–10 glasses of pure water per day to help soothe the digestive tract, fight fatigue, keep organs operating, and provide lubrication for joints and tissues.
Skin and Body Health – Activated charcoal uses extend beyond internal applications. For external treatments, it’s effective at treating body odor and acne and relieving discomfort from insect bites, rashes from poison ivy or poison oak, and snake bites.
After a mosquito bite or bee sting, mix one capsule of activated charcoal with ½ tablespoon of coconut oil, and dab on affected area. Reapply every 30 minutes until itching and discomfort are gone. As activated charcoal stains nearly everything it touches, wrap with a bandage.
To treat bites from snakes and spiders, including the Brown Recluse or Black Widow, you want to cover a larger area than just a small bandage, as the bacteria and viruses that lead to tissue damage need to be mitigated quickly.
Create a wrap out of fabric that’s big enough to go around the affected area twice. Dab the mixture of coconut oil and activated charcoal on the fabric, and wrap. Secure with bandages. Reapply every two to three hours, rinsing well between applications.
To treat acne, mix one capsule of activated charcoal with two teaspoons of aloe vera gel, and smooth over face. Let dry and rinse off completely. The activated charcoal binds with environmental toxins and dirt that contribute to acne. It’s also good for spot treatments.
Anti-Aging – Activated charcoal uses include helping prevent cellular damage to kidneys and liver, as well as supporting healthy adrenal glands. It’s imperative to cleanse toxins and chemicals routinely from the body. Activated charcoal benefits major organs by helping the body flush out the toxins and chemicals that cause the damage.
Aging is a natural part of life, but due to the toxic load we are exposed to through food, our homes and workplaces, and our environment, to prevent pre-mature aging we must get rid of them.
For this activated charcoal use, take two capsules per day after exposure to nonorganic foods, heavy meals or after contact to other toxins. This supports better cognitive function, a reduction in brain fog, healthier kidney and liver function, and a healthier gastrointestinal tract.
Activated Charcoal for First Aid – It’s recommend to have activated charcoal as a part of first aid kits, both at home and at work. In the event of an emergency where toxins, drugs or chemicals are ingested, it’s imperative to call 911 immediately. If you have activated charcoal on hand, be sure to tell the operator; the operator may advise to administer it prior to the first responder’s arrival. Depending on the amount of toxins or chemicals ingested and types of toxins, multiple doses may be required. At the hospital, physicians are able to administer more as needed.
Activated Charcoal & Good Bacteria
If activated charcoal is so great at getting rid of toxins and bad bacteria then you may be wondering does activated charcoal absorb beneficial bacteria as well? Well first off, remember that charcoal is adsorbent rather than absorbent. At least one study published in The Journal of Veterinary Medical Science demonstrates that activated charcoal may be able to somewhat differentiate between what it should and should not adsorb.
The researchers conducting this study found that “activated charcoal showed lower binding capacity to the normal bacterial flora tested than that to E. coli O157:H7 strains.” So it appears as though toxin-producing strains of E. coli were more likely to be adsorbed by the activated charcoal while normal bacterial flora in the intestine including Enterococcus faecium, Bifidobacterium thermophilum, and Lactobacillus acidophilus were more likely to be left alone.