The first I ever heard of activated charcoal was when I worked in the Pediatric ICU and we were administering activated charcoal to a drug overdose. I knew little about the action of this medication at that time but knew that it would help to protect the patient from more harm. It turns out that activated charcoal has been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayuredic Medicine to soak up poisons and improve intestinal health through a process called absorption.
What is Activated Charcoal?
Here is the skinny on this amazing stuff. Wikepedia describes it as an Activated carbon, also called Activated charcoal, it is a form of carbon processed to have small, low-volume pores that increase the surface area available for adsorption or chemical reactions.
What this means is that this highly absorbent material has a porous surface with a negative electric charge that attracts positively charged unwanted toxins and gas. It has millions of tiny pores that capture bind and remove poisons, heavy metals, chemicals, and intestinal gases which have thousands of times more weight than the charcoal itself. It helps to trap toxins from the body and environment through absorption in the small and large intestine. These toxins bind to the charcoal and it is eliminated in your stool.
What is it used for?
- Bloating and gas-Many foods when eaten can leave you feeling uncomfortable. That bloated feeling is from the food decomposition from the bacteria in your gut. Eating foods that don’t agree with you can leave a byproduct of gas and diarrhea. Taking activated charcoal when eating these foods can help to eliminate those symptoms because the byproduct is absorbed into the activated charcoal.
- Detoxification-Ingestion of activated charcoal can help remove unwanted toxins from the environment out of your body. In some case mold and candida can be a problem burdening our bodies. Activated charcoal has also been known to remove heavy metals such as mercury, copper, arsenic and lead. Taking activated charcoal can help to cleanse the body of these heavy metals, mold and candida. Although not proven by science some cancer sufferers report amazing results of using activated charcoal topically to reduce lymph node enlargement and there are even reports of tumor reduction.
- Helps Prevent Hangovers-This is where I listen up! While activated charcoal does not absorb alcohol, it does absorb the toxins that are released by the body due to alcohol consumption. So I now never drink wine without it. Take 1-2 600mg capsules before bed with 16 ounces of water. You will wake up feeling suprisingly good after a couple glasses!
- Helps with bee stings and spider bites-That unwanted swelling, pain and itching after a bee sting or spider bite is related to the venom that our body is reacting to. Applying a mixture of coconut oil and activated charcoal can help to pull those toxins out of the skin reducing the side effect of the bite or sting. Here is the recipe: Mix activated charcoal 1 capsule with 1 tablespoon of Coconut oil in a small container. Apply to the area of the bite every 30 minutes until the symptoms subside. Remember Activated Charcoal stains so cover the site with a bandaid or wrap.
- Heart health-In a study conducted almost thirty years ago by the British journal The Lancet, patients with high cholesterol who took activated charcoal (8 gm) three times per day had a lowered LDL of 41% and a total lowered cholesterol level of 25%
How do I take it?
Taking activated charcoal will vary depending on your body and why you are taking it. I start with 600mg tablets. Make sure to ingest activated charcoal two hours before or after eating. I do not recommend taking activated charcoal on a regular basis, but as part of a specific detoxification protocol of between one day and up to two weeks. Here is what I take.
Whatever regimen you decide upon, make sure to stick to recommendations to avoid constipation (especially if you have a tendency towards this normally). It is very important that you drink more water when ingesting activated charcoal as you will need this to help flush out the toxins and keep from becoming constipated. Activated Charcoal can darken stools. If you are taking medications or have health conditions consult your medical doctor prior to taking this supplement.
 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2612535 Kuusisto P et al. Effect of activated charcoal on hypercholesterolemia. Lancet 16: 366-67, August 1986