Adsorbing – Not Absorbing: Why Activated Charcoal is Big These Days

You’d pretty much need to have been living under a rock to not have heard of activated charcoal these days. That might be easy to say coming from a health and wellness aficionado, but in truth it’s been fairly prominent in the media and across a whole host of subject matters online too. Many people will have seen it promoted as a natural way to whiten your teeth – and yes, it’s great for that – but there’s a whole host of other ‘cleaning’ applications for it too, and many of them are much more beneficial in the big picture of overall body health.So today we’re going to give you an introduction to uses of activated charcoal for health, and hopefully you’ll be inclined to try one or more of them for yourself.

Charcoal Does NOT = Barbeque

First off, the type of charcoal we are talking about is NOT the kerosene-soaked briquettes that you set alight in a BBQ before grilling steaks and the like. You probably don’t need to be convinced that you should never ingest that product, but we’ll do it anyways – NEVER INGEST BBQ CHARCOAL.


Right then, on we move to discussing how activated charcoal (also called activated carbon) comes to be. Coconut shells or any other type of wood with an ultra-fine grain is slowly charred at a very elevated temperatures so that thousands of microscopic pores open in the grain of the wood. Once this is achieved, the charcoal is now ready to be broken up into the product you can buy, and get to work.

Activated charcoal works by the process of adsorption. That’s right, adsorption, not absorption.

What does that mean? Well adsorption is when a chemical reaction leads to elements binding to a specific surface, as compared to absorption which is when elements are taken into a specific surface based more simply on the compatibility of their physical forms.

So as it relates to the way you can use activated charcoal to remove toxin and impurities from the body, these toxins and impurities bind to the surface of the pores in the charcoal, and then they are eliminated from the body via your intestines. It’s worth a quick mention here to say that having good intestinal health therefore promotes a more effective ridding of toxins with the use of activated charcoal.

Another pair of noteworthy mentions regarding the use of activated charcoal before we get into the specific applications:

  • Be aware of potential adverse side effects or drug interactions, most notably with tricyclic antidepressant medications.
  • Anytime you’re ingesting activated charcoal, make sure you drink your body weight in ounces of fresh, filtered water daily. As an example, if you weigh 160lbs, drink 160 fluid ounces of water (4.5 litres)


Applications for Activated Charcoal for Body Cleansing

Using activated charcoal for detoxification and cleansing of the body – either as a whole or with specific components – is highly recommended, and there’s quite a variety of applications for it. Here are some of the most common:

1) Emergency Detoxification

Unfortunate incidents do occur, and if you have a family member who has consumed something toxic then activated charcoal may be a way to remedy the situation quickly and effectively.

Here is the general dosage / preparation guideline:

50 to 100 grams for adults / 10 to 25 grams for children – mixed into a liquid (water is acceptable, but one that is processed more slowly by the digestive tract is preferable. Vegetable juice is particularly ideal) and then drunk swiftly

2) Digestive Cleanse

I like this one very much in particular. Anyone who’s afflicted with allergic reactions, oxidative damage (leaky gut syndrome), or poor immune function can experience improvements by undertaking a digestive cleanse with activated charcoal. It can also be effective for reducing joint pain, increasing overall body energy, and even for improving your mental faculties.

Here is the general dosage / preparation guideline:

10 grams of activated charcoal combined with water / non-carbonated beverage (no soda!) as a thick mixture and ingested 90 minutes prior to each meal for 2 days

3) Skin & Body

Activated charcoal can also be used for topical skin and body treatments, and again often with considerable effectiveness. Put it to use to counter body odour and acne or get relief from insect and spider bites, and it can also be used as a facial rejuvenator or detoxifying shampoo.

A quick note here though – don’t use an activated charcoal mixture on dry hair and skin. The substance is naturally dehydrating, and will promote further drying.

Here’s the acne treatment recipe:

Mix ¾ teaspoon of activated charcoal with 2 teaspoons of aloe vera gel. Spread evenly over face and allow to sit there for 1 hour. Wash away thoroughly.

4) Reducing High Cholesterol

This one is a potentially very valuable one for older folks or anyone with health risks posed by high cholesterol levels. Activated charcoal has a natural way of flushing away LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) while allowing HDL cholesterol (the good stuff) to remain. Naturally, the most effective way to treat high cholesterol with activated charcoal is to pair it with appropriate diet and lifestyle changes.

Here is the general dosage / preparation guideline:

3 does of 8 grams of activated charcoal, again combined with water or a non-carbonated beverage as a thick mixture and ingested intermittently (not daily or even regularly)

5) Whitening Teeth & Removing Plaque

This application is something of the celebrity of the bunch these days, and that’s really no surprise as it’s one where you can see immediate and clearly visible results in your appearance! Here’s how you can whiten your teeth with activated charcoal.

  • Mix generously with toothpaste (natural toothpastes are preferable, as commercial brands often have harmful ingredients)
  • Note that this can also discolour the bristles of your toothbrush, and you can also prepare an activated charcoal mouthwash solution if that’s a concern for you.

6) Other Applications

We’re not quite done with espousing the benefits of activated charcoal! There are also less common uses for it but ones that certain people with specific afflictions or ailments may find appealing.

Most notable of these is that you can treat mould exposure with activated charcoal. This is because mould has a very strong positive ionic charge and, as mentioned earlier, activated charcoal has a strong negative charge.

Next up is using activated charcoal for prevent premature aging. This is obviously going to be a popular one as well, and in particular it’s very effective for preventing cellular damage to the kidneys and liver and for promoting healthy adrenal glands – which have wide-reaching health benefits for the entire body.

Last but not least, you can use activated charcoal for relief of gas and bloating. Again, that’s a product of the positive versus negative ionic reaction. Check out this recipe for black lemonade (shown in the image below), featuring activated charcoal mixed with lemonade. Drink it heartily as necessary, but make sure to drink plenty of water the following day.

Happy to have introduced you to the benefits of activated charcoal!