Health experts, bloggers and magazines have long been raving about the health benefits and detoxifying powers of activated charcoal powder. Isn’t the sole thought of AC absorbing all toxins in the body as enticing to you as it is to me? That’s why I really wanted to get to the bottom of this new health food trend. But looking back now it actaully took some months of research and experimenting before I felt ready to write up this post. What took me so long? First of all, I wasn’t quite that easy to get my hands on an organic product in the first place. But with the help of my friends from Just blends I received my first batch of organic activated coconut charcoal in the mailbox. Secondly, I thoroughly wanted to test AC and see how my body would react to it and how it would make me feel in order give any recommendations if it is worth including it into your diet/beauty routine.
What is activated charcoal and what does ‘activated’ mean?
Unlike what many people might think, activated charcoal is not the same kind of charcoal that you get from burning wood. The most common Activated Charcoal (and the one I tested as well) is made from coconut shells. These coconut shells have been heated and ‘activated’ by adding a gas or activating agent which increases the surface of the charcoal. That means by actiavting the charcoal it can absorb a lot more toxins. It has millions of little pores that have the ability to bind and remove toxins. In fact, it absorbs thousands of times its own weight. It also binds poisons, heavy metals and chemicals, trapping them in its highly absorbent pores and flushing them out of your body.
How can activated charcoal be used?
In general it can be used for food and beauty purposes. Supplements usually come in capsules but I have opted for a powder which makes it a bit easier to add to smoothies and drinks. If using AC for beauty purposes I would recommend a powder too since it is easier to apply.
Use as Supplement/Food: Unlike other ‘superfood’ powders, activated charcoal has a really wide range of applications which exceed the pure addition to a smoothie bowl. You can add it to your food of course, this will bind all toxins in your body. How to apply: for a general Body Detox: drink 1 tsp of AC mixed into a glass of cold water, drink a second one glass of clear water afterwards. It can also help to relief stomach pain: mix 1 tbsp of AC to a glass of water. drink 1-2 hours before or after eating. Drink a second glass of clear water afterwards.
Use as a hangover treatment: I cannot confirm personally that it actually works but AC is being used to treat people with drug overdoses and poisoning so there is scientific evidence that it works.
Use as natural teeth whitener: AC is a natural chemical-free teeth whitener removing plaque and whitening your teeth. It seems counter intuitive brushing your teeth with a black powder to whiten your teeth but it is in fact very effective at drawing impurities out of the teeth. For a natural teeth whitener wet your toothbrush and dip it carefully into your powdered AC so you have a good amount sticking to your toothbrush. Start brushing your teeth as normal and rinse well after you have finished. There are natural AC toothpastes on the market as well if you prefer that tooth paste feeling. Just keep in mind not to overdo the teeth whitening as the AC can be very abrasive when used too frequently. I use my whitening AC toothpaste from My Magic Mud once a week since I have very sensitive teeth and I am really loving it. You acn also make your own tooth paste by mixing AC, Coconut oil and peppermint oil.
Use as natural face mask: AC also makes a great facemask which exfoliates your skin and gently clears your pores too. For a facemask mix 1 tsp of AC with water and coconut oil until a paste is formed. Apply to your face, let it dry then wash it off and exfoliate while massaging your face.
Is there anything I have to consider when consuming AC?
Toxicology studies have shown activated charcoal is harmless to human health. It can be taken any time after exposure to toxins such as alcohol, heavily processed or greasy foods, or everyday toxins we encounter such as herbicides, pesticides and carbon dioxide from the pollution in the air. In saying that, AC also binds all ingested materials in the body – meaning it does not distinguish between toxins and good nutrients. So if you are on a healthy diet be aware when taking AC it will also remove vitamins, minerals etc. from your body. Also, do not consume AC within 2 hours of taking medication as it decreases/eliminates the effects of your medication.
What are my experiences with AC and would I recommend taking AC?
First and foremost, I am a firm believer that we should trust our body’s ability to heal itself naturally and not expose our bodies to toxins in the first place. I believe that a wholesome plant based diet, good intense workouts and relaxation are the 3 pillars of good health and make a detox unneccessary in the first place. To add to that: try to avoid alcohol, processed foods and only expose your body to natural substances if possible f.eg. natural cosmetics. My mantra: avoid toxins in the first place rather than detoxing afterwards. This way you will never be in need of AC.
But what I am struggeling the most with is the thought that AC absorbs everything from the body (not only toxins) because you really want your vitamins and minerals to remain in your body, don’t you? Because with my daily food intake I choose the selection of foods very wisely to cover a variety of vitamins, minerals and nutritious needs. I might take a very critical take on AC but I don’t think we should remove something as good as nutrients from our bodies. When I included AC into my diet I didn’t feel as energized as I would usually feel. I do take an iron supplement as my iron levels are naturally quite low so obviously the AC would absorb the iron plus all viatmins etc. So taking AC would actually contribute to me not getting enough iron on some days. Therefore I won’t include activated charcoal into my diet.
But having said that, I do love it as a beauty product. I have a charcoal toothpaste which I use every other day, not every day as again as it can be quite abrasive for my sensitive enamels. And mixed with water it makes a fantastic mask that gives your skin a deep cleanse.
Have you tried AC into your diet and how did it make you feel? I would love to read about your experiences!