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Activated Charcoal- Boost Detoxification & Digestion

Updated: May 15

Activated charcoal roti with palak paneer, fermented beets, leek sprouts, leek scapes, onions, and carrots.

Activated charcoal is one of the most important anti-aging substances. It is because it helps our body in advanced detoxification. We are exposed to approximately 700,000 to 2,100,000 toxins every day based on our lifestyle choices and the place we live in. With that in mind, detoxification becomes more important than nutrition itself. Activated charcoal is one of the most affordable, easy, and ingenious ways to accomplish this.

Historically, the use of charcoal for purification dates back to almost 484 BCE by Indian, Greek, and Egyptian civilizations. Studies on mice have shown that charcoal increases the longevity of mice by about 40%.

What is this super-hero, life-giving substance called charcoal? Charcoal is essentially carbon. It is produced by burning carbon-containing materials like wood, bamboo, coconut husk, coir, willow peat, lignite and coal. These materials are burnt to make charcoal, which is then cooled, powdered, and baked until it is devoid of any moisture. Making activated charcoal involves heating charcoal in multiple steps in the presence of certain gases to about 500°C-1200°C. A chemical activation step is used to make its surface more porous to be able to adsorb pollutants. The chemical activation reaction creates certain functional groups on the surface that can enhance specific types of surface adsorptions. However, the main feature of activated charcoal is the high surface area compared to charcoal. About one milliliter of activated medicinal charcoal has a total surface area of approximately 1,000 square meters!

Let's dive into some of the most popular uses of activated charcoal. It has been used for various purposes, both medicinal and non-medicinal. Here are some potential benefits of activated charcoal:

Digestive Health:

Gas and Bloating: Activated charcoal may help alleviate gas and bloating by binding to and removing gas-producing substances in the digestive system.

Indigestion: It is sometimes used to relieve indigestion and discomfort caused by certain foods.


Toxin Binding: Activated charcoal is known for its ability to bind to toxins and chemicals in the gastrointestinal tract, preventing their absorption into the bloodstream.

Cleansing: Activated charcoal can be used during parasite cleanses to increase their effectiveness. It is often used after fasting during cleanses to remove microbial toxins from the gut.

Emergency Poison Treatment:

Poison Ingestion: Activated charcoal is used in emergencies to treat certain cases of poisoning or overdose by preventing the absorption of the toxic substance.

Skin Health:

Topical Applications: In skincare products, activated charcoal is used for its potential to absorb excess oil, impurities, and toxins from the skin. It is found in masks, cleansers, and other skincare formulations.

Kidney Health:

Reducing Urea and Creatinine Levels: Some studies suggest that activated charcoal may help lower levels of urea and creatinine in individuals with kidney disease.

Heart Health:

Lowering Cholesterol Levels: Some studies indicate that activated charcoal may have a cholesterol-lowering effect by binding to cholesterol and preventing its absorption.

Water Filtration:

Purifying Water: Activated charcoal is commonly used in water filtration systems to remove impurities, chemicals, and contaminants from drinking water.

Teeth Whitening:

Stain Removal: Activated charcoal is sometimes used in oral care products for its potential to absorb and remove surface stains from teeth, contributing to a brighter smile.

Alleviating Odors:

Deodorizing Properties: Activated charcoal can absorb and neutralize odors, making it useful in products like air purifiers, deodorizers, and shoe inserts.

Just noting how extensively activated charcoal is used in applications points us to its versatility, particularly in purification and detoxification. Some people like spacing out their supplements from activated charcoal by 2-4 hours to avoid interference in the absorption of the supplements. That said there is no conclusive research that says activated charcoal interferes with nutrition. Activated charcoal is a fine, odorless, and tasteless black powder that can be easily used in food preparations without interfering with the flavor of the dish. So, it has been successfully used in many nutritious culinary recipes with great success.

While activated charcoal has potential benefits, it's essential to use it cautiously. It's also crucial to note that activated charcoal can interact with certain medications, reducing their effectiveness. Too much can induce constipation. It is best to consult with a healthcare provider or a nutrition expert before using activated charcoal for health-related purposes.

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