Ancient Egyptians have known about the benefits of activated charcoal, American Indians often used it for medicinal purposes, and soldiers in WWI placed it in their gas masks to counteract poisonous gases.
Activated charcoal is an odorless and tasteless substance that adsorbs (not absorbs) poisons and other harmful substances. Instead of absorbing things into itself, an adsorbent substance attaches things to its surface. Activated charcoal is able to adsorb more than its own weight (thousands of times more).
Activated charcoal is the most beneficial type of charcoal (about 2-3 times as effective) because more of its surface has been exposed, thus allowing it to adsorb more.
Activated Charcoal Benefits
If you suspect poisoning or overdose, immediately notify emergency services or poison control for assistance and instructions.
Normally, vomiting is induced to remove the poison from the gastrointestinal tract. You do not want to induce vomiting if the person is convulsing, semiconscious, or comatose or if the poison is known to be a strong acid or alkali, strychnine, or a hydrocarbon (for example, fingernail polish remover, lighter fluid, gasoline, kerosene, and paint remover). Vomiting removes about 30% of the poison.
In some cases, activated charcoal is given after the person has vomited. When swallowed, it adsorbs the poison/drug and carries it out the intestines (activated charcoal is not absorbed into the bloodstream). This helps remove the remaining 70%.
Activated charcoal is able to draw toxins through the skin and help speed up the healing process of wounds. Never apply directly on broken skin. To make a poultice:
- Mix equal parts of activated charcoal and flaxseed meal and add hot water to form a moderately thick paste.
- Spread the paste over a clean cloth (such as white cotton or cheese cloth) and fold.
- Place the cloth over the injured part.
- Cover the cloth with plastic.
- Cover with another piece of cloth.
- Secure with a stretch bandage, tie, or pin.
The poultice needs to be kept moist. You can leave it on for 1-2 hours or longer. It should be changed at least every ten hours. Gently wash the area with cool water after removing.
Treating gas and certain types of diarrhea are other activated charcoal benefits. Use as directed.
Activated charcoal can adsorb many medications and nutrients.
Drink a lot of water when taking to help prevent constipation.
Taking activated charcoal can cause black stools. Other possible side effects include abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting.
To get the benefits of activated charcoal, buy only products that are intended for medicinal purposes. Do not use charcoal briquettes or charcoal from burned toast.
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