Life,  Nutrition

How Activated Charcoal Might Help You Get Through The Holiday Season

With the holiday season underway most of us will be indulging on lots of good food and drinks.  For good health it’s important that we try and keep everything within moderation.  However there will be times where moderation will go out the window and that extra pan of cookies or that big punch bowl of egg nog will be calling your name. 🙂   Moderation is something I personally struggle with especially since I’m always trying out and creating new recipes.   When something I make turns out amazing I tend to eat more than I should before it heads to the freezer or is given away.

Eating in moderation is particularly important if the digestion system isn’t how it use to be.  There was a time where I could eat just about anything and everything and be okay.  But now it’s a different story.  Even if a food agrees with me, if I overindulge eating it, my digestion system will be out of whack.

I’ve recently just started using a supplement which helps me for those moments I know I might eat a little more food than I should.  It’s also taken when I feel the food I am eating might cause a digestion flare up.  The supplement I’m talking about is activated charcoal.  In this blog post, I’ll go into what activated charcoal is, how it’s used and how I go about using it.  You just might want to give it a go for yourself

What Is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is a fine black powder.  It’s normally made from coconut shells, peat, olive pits, coal or wood.  The charcoal is then processed at a very high temperature to make it “activated”.   The activation process makes the charcoal porous which is totally different from the charcoal you might use on your barbeque grill.

How Does Activated Charcoal Work?

When the charcoal is activated (processed) it creates millions of tiny pores that can trap, bind and remove toxins, poisons, heavy metals and gas from the body.(1)  Activated charcoal is reported as being the most frequently used antidote for overdoses because of the power it has to draw out toxins. (2)  The porous activated charcoal has a negative charge that attracts the positive charge of unwanted substances in the body.

This is why your good water filtration systems will use activated charcoal (carbon) filters to filter water.  Carbon filters help to remove impurities such as drugs, chemicals and bacteria found in water.  A 2015 study showed using carbon filters in water filtration systems removed up to 100 percent of fluoride in fluoride contaminated water.(3)

How is Activated Charcoal Used?

As mentioned above activated charcoal is used in water filtration units but there are more uses for it listed below.

  1. Oral Health:  Activated charcoal is used in many oral health products like toothpaste and teeth whitening kits.  Many of these products claim that charcoal helps with whitening teeth, helps to remove bacteria and is anti-viral.
  2. Deodorant: There are many charcoal deodorants on the market.  Charcoal is used to absorb odors and remove toxins to help maintain freshness.
  3. Skin Care:  Research shows that activated charcoal can bring impurities, toxins and dirt to the surface of the skin to make removal of these items much easier.
  4. Intestinal Gas:  In a 2012 study, reports showed activated charcoal given to a group of people suffering with excessive gas in their system improved their symptoms by consuming amounts of activated charcoal.(4)
  5. Kidney Health:  A study conducted in 2014 showed rats with induced kidney disease given charcoal had a significant reduction of intestinal inflammation and damage.  Activated charcoal helps the kidneys function better by removing undigested toxins and drugs from the system.(5)
  6. Diarrhea:  In 2017 a study was done about the role activated charcoal could play in the prevention of diarrhea.  Due to the porous nature of activated charcoal, the charcoal can trap drugs and toxins which cause diarrhea to prevent diarrhea from even occurring.(6)

How I use Activated Charcoal.

I try to stay clear from foods which causes digestion flare ups.  But there are times where either cravings kick in or I’m out at a restaurant where I might eat something that might cause a disturbance in my gut.  What I’ve been starting to take is two activated charcoal capsules about 30 minutes before I know I’m going to eat something that might not agree with my digestion system or if I’m going to indulge a little more than usual.   The results of taking charcoal capsules have been very positive for me.  I’ve noticed easier digestion and little to no gas from foods prone to give me intestinal gas.

Another way I have used activated charcoal is in masks.  Whenever I use a charcoal based mask my skin feels extremely clean and my pores are smaller.  The charcoal mask doesn’t dry out my skin, hydration of my skin is still maintained and my skin is smooth to the touch.

My experience using activated charcoal as a toothpaste was interesting.  It’s not my favorite way to use it.  Let’s just say it was messy and I didn’t like looking at myself with black teeth.:)  However after 3 days of using a charcoal powder toothpaste, it did seem to make my teeth whiter afterwards.

Considerations

There are a few things to consider when thinking about using activated charcoal.

  1.  Because of the charcoal’s ability to remove properties from the body, it can make some medications and supplements less effective.  If on any type of medication, it’s very important to see a medical professional before taking this supplement.  And if you’re taking vitamins or other supplements, it’s recommended to wait at least 2 hours after taking charcoal supplements before taking vitamins or other supplements.
  2. Drinking lots of water is recommended when taking activated charcoal.  Excessive amounts of activated charcoal can cause constipation.
  3. If using activated charcoal, your bowel movements might appear darker.
  4. It’s important to use a high quality activated charcoal like the one I use.  These activated charcoal capsules are organic, all natural and vegetarian.      

Final Notes

Too much of anything is not good, especially when it comes to eating items containing lots of sugar, flour. oils and butter.  Consuming too much of these items can be challenging for the digestion system and general health.  However with the holiday season here it’s only natural to want to eat and be merry.  So why not help your digestion system out a little bit.   Look into whether taking activated charcoal before your next indulgent meal be good for you.

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