If you consider yourself to be in tune with health trends, then you may have heard about activated charcoal in the last couple of years. Activated charcoal became an instant overnight hit after being labeled as a miracle supplement that started appearing in teeth whiteners, face masks and various detox and weight loss drinks. The one thing to know about this health trend is that all of the hype about it is true – it really is a powerful detox supplement, but there is much to know and learn about before you begin adding it to every aspect of your life.
First things first, what exactly is activated charcoal? It is a carbon material that is processed to contain numerous tiny pores that cover a large surface area, which makes it very good at something known as adsorption. Adsorption happens when molecules of a substance bind to the surface of another, in this case it would be activated charcoal. This is the powerful healing and detoxification power that happens when you consume activated charcoal, but it also means you shouldn’t ingest it randomly or often. Before you begin any type of weight loss program or dietary supplement it’s important to be informed of not only the benefits, but also any potential risks or effects that you could experience as a result. In this blog post we’re going to share everything you should know about activated charcoal and how to incorporate it into your health routine so it you can enjoy all the incredible benefits.
Activated charcoal has actually been around for a very long time, it has been used to removed ingested toxic substances from the body since the early 1800s. To this day, activated charcoal in the form of a powder that is mixed into a liquid is used in emergency departments across the world to counteract the effects of accidental poisoning or drug overdose if the substance has not entered the bloodstream via the gut. The sooner activated charcoal is consumed after swallowing a potentially poisonous substance, the better it will work – usually about 30-60 minutes. The toxic molecules will bind to the activated charcoal as it moves through your digestive tract and then leave your body when you use the restroom. There are certain situations in which activated charcoal will not work properly, including when the person has taken substances that are not absorbed well by charcoal. These include:
- Substances that contain metals like lithium or iron
- Substances that are made of hydrogen and carbon
- Substances that cause burns when touched or swallowed, like household cleaners and gasoline
There is limited research that suggests using activated charcoal to treat intestinal gas and certain conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The way this works is that liquid and gas that is trapped in your intestine can easily pass through the tiny holes in activated charcoal, which could neutralize them and limit the feeling of pain and discomfort. Since activated charcoal became a big health trend, you’re sure to see it touted as an ingredient in many food items and personal care items like lemonades, ice cream, toothpaste and skincare products. The idea behind these products is that the activated charcoal will pull out any impurities that you are looking to eliminate, the same way that it binds to toxins in your body. While some users may experience this promised benefit, activated charcoal is mainly meant to be taken by mouth and for the purposes of counteracting a toxic situation or overdose.
It’s important to understand how consuming activated charcoal on a regular basis can potentially affect your well-being. Regular consumption of activated charcoal could potentially cause a nutrition deficiency or malnutrition, here are some possible risks:
- It can prevent your body from digesting food and absorbing the nutrients you need
- It can make your medications and supplements less effective
- Side effects of regular consumption include diarrhea, constipation, vomiting and blockage of your digestive tract
It’s no secret that activated charcoal is a powerful substance that has a prominent place in the medical world. It’s also an important ingredient to have on hand in case of an accidental poisoning – you should always contact a Poison Control Center if someone has ingested a toxic substance, but activated charcoal could be a potential first line of defense before help arrives or before you are able to get to a hospital. If you are taking medications, it’s also important to discuss activated charcoal with your doctor to ensure it won’t interfere with your medication. If you are interested in learning more about health trends, weight loss programs or dietary information please don’t hesitate to contact us!