7 Awesome Health Benefits of Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal powder in a white bowl with a wooden spoon sitting on a green surface.

Activated charcoal is known for its toxin-absorbing properties. (Image: Beats1 via Dreamstime)

Sometimes, we do not pay heed to things deemed apparently trivial but those things can actually help us in many ways. One such example is activated charcoal. It is a black powder without any smell that is used a lot in emergency rooms for dealing with overdoses. It has proven toxin-absorbing properties. The powder is used a lot in the skincare sector these days as well. It is obtained by heating natural sources of carbon like wood and coconut shells.

The black powder thwarts toxins from getting into the stomach easily. Since the human body cannot absorb charcoal it helps discard the toxin from the body. The so-called activation process robs the charcoal of molecules previously absorbed and the overall surface area is enhanced. 

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The major advantages obtained from using activated charcoal are listed here.

Improves kidney health

Activated charcoal can be useful in enhancing kidney functioning. It helps in discarding undigested toxins. It is very good at removing toxins obtained from urea. A number of animal studies have shown activated charcoal usage helps boost kidney function and it also slows down gastrointestinal damage and inflammation. However, controlled human studies are required to verify these conclusions.

Healthy skin

Activated charcoal can also be good for enhancing skin health and texture. You can find many face washes, scrubs, and masks with this compound inside. The dust of charcoal helps peel off dead cells from your skin’s outer layer, revealing radiant inner skin. It is also good for reducing oil secretion. 

A young woman applying an activated charcoal mask to her face.
You can find many face washes, scrubs, and masks made with activated charcoal. (Image: Andrey Popov via Dreamstime)

Filters water

For ages, activated charcoal has been used for water purification. The charcoal soaks up the bacteria and pathogens in water easily. In fact, several domestic and commercial grade water filtration units are made with inbuilt charcoal filters or cartridges.

Antidiarrheal

For treating a condition like diarrhea, activated charcoal is used sometimes. The bacteria causing diarrhea do not get soaked in the body if this substance is used. Its textured and porous surface soaks in germs. It has fewer side effects than typical antidiarrheal medications, too.

Intestinal gas reduction

Using activated charcoal powder can bring down the generation of intestinal gas even though researchers are still not clear how it happens. Possibly, the gases generated in the intestine get soaked by millions of tiny holes present in the charcoal. This was corroborated by a 2012 study. The European Food Safety Authority says using a gram of activated charcoal before meals can help in reducing gas generation.

Whiter teeth

Using activated charcoal can be ideal for removing yellow stains from teeth that are caused by smoking and drinking tea and coffee for a long time. There are toothpastes nowadays that contain activated charcoal for this purpose. However, there is a lack of substantial research to support the benefits of using this for teeth whitening. 

Natural toothpaste activated charcoal and bamboo toothbrush on wooden background with green monstera leaf.
Using activated charcoal can be ideal for removing yellow stains from teeth. (Image: Bogdan Sonyachny via Dreamstime)

Deodorizing

While many people are not aware of it, activated charcoal also has deodorizing properties. It soaks in microparticles and chemicals, toxins which may lead to bad smell formation. It is therefore used a lot in making deodorant sprays and room freshener products too. You can also find deodorant roll-ons made with it. 

Things to remember when using activated charcoal

It is true that activated charcoal has medicinal properties, contrary to regular charcoal which is carcinogenic. Nowadays, you get it in many forms such as powder, pills, cubes, and granules. Ingesting it is deemed safe but you should not do so without talking to a doctor. It can also thwart some medications from getting absorbed into the bloodstream. Its abrasiveness can cause damage to the teeth’ enamel and skin surface if you do not practice moderation.

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