The Surprising Versatility of Activated Charcoal

And We’re Not Talking Barbecue!
One of the first times I had heard the term “Activated Charcoal” was when I had little kids and wanted to make sure my first aid kit was complete.  I learned that activated charcoal was an essential treatment for accidental poisoning, which is always a fear with little curious kids! 
But I didn’t really understand much about how it worked. Activated Charcoal has millions of tiny pores that trap chemicals and toxins. The chemicals and toxins bind to the charcoal,  preventing absorption by the body, and then will be flushed out of the body. It is super important to drink lots of water  (12-16 glasses per day!) to assist with this flushing. People who don’t drink this much water can become dehydrated, which is not a good thing either! (Be careful to not use Activated Charcoal with acids, petroleum products, lye, alcohol, or other corrosive products.) Consult the Poison Control Center, or 911 to get the proper dosing when you realize there has been ingestion of toxic substances. And of course get the patient to an Emergency Room. 

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Image from Nature’s Way Website

It is logical then, considering that Activated Charcoal traps chemical and toxins, that there is so much more that Activated Charcoal can do! The most obvious one is to mitigate gas and bloating. Lassen’s carries various Charcoal capsules and tablets which are great to have on hand for those occasions when your digestion needs a little help! If you know you are going to be eating a meal that is likely to produce gas and bloating, you can preemptively take some activated charcoal beforehand.  It also can be used if you suspect food poisoning with nausea and diarrhea.
If you’re planning on a Juice Cleanse for the New Year, add some Activated Charcoal to your regime to sweep out those toxins.  And even if you’re not doing a formal juice cleanse, our Deli juices have charcoal add-ons if you want a boost, too!
If you’ve been bitten by mosquitos, spiders, or snakes, or stung by a bee, mix some activated charcoal with a little coconut oil, and then apply a little to the sting area. Apply a bandage, since charcoal can stain! Reapply regularly (up to every 30 minutes) to reduce itching and swelling. 
You can make a skin mask with activated charcoal and Aloe Vera. Apply and let dry, then rinse thoroughly. This helps draw impurities out of the pores and removes dead skin cells. Lassen’s also carries several soaps and masks that contain activated charcoal too.  
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Image from the Organika site

Many water filters use Activated Charcoal as the main component of the filter, and for good reason! It can remove the chemicals that are in our water, including pesticides, (some) fluoride, industrial waste, and other toxins. If your filter says, “Carbon Filter,” it uses Activated Charcoal.
There are some cautions — don’t take Activated Charcoal without about two hours of taking prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs, and again, don’t forget those 12-16 glasses of water.(Consult your doctor for potential adverse drug interactions.) You will also want to avoid taking your supplements within two hours of taking charcoal. 
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image from My Magic Mud website

One of the biggest uses for Activated Charcoal in the news lately is to whiten teeth. It almost seems crazy that something black can whiten teeth! But it can, and does. It can even remove stains! You can use straight activated charcoal powder — wet your toothbrush and dip it in the powder. Brush normally, and then spit and rinse thoroughly. The powder will stain grout, so be careful to contain the charcoal in your mouth and in the sink. (It can be messy.) There have been some reports that charcoal can stain crowns and veneers, so check with your dentist. There are also some charcoal toothpastes which will be less messy. 
One exciting use for Activated Charcoal is to reduce bad cholesterol. There was an article in the Lancet (in 1986!) that indicated that charcoal helped reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol with negligible side effects. (See this link for more info on dosage and results.)
The more I learn about nature, the more I see how it has provided so many wonderful things to help us get and stay healthy! Activated Charcoal is one of those things that nature has given to us. Lassen’s carries many products that contain Activated Charcoal, and our helpful supplement and cosmetics staff can help you find just the right products for you!
Here’s to a healthy and happy 2018!

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