Activated charcoal has been used by medical professionals for more than 150 years. It helps treat poisoned and overdosed patients. However, there are new uses of activated charcoal that have made it a fashionable addition that can be found on store shelves across the country. In this article, we gathered nine ways to use activated charcoal you should know.
1. Teeth whitening
Some people buy activated charcoal powder to get a more radiant smile. But it is not recommended to use abrasive cleaners to whiten your teeth. Moreover, your teeth may actually become more yellow. Instead, you can use teeth whitening toothpaste with an ADA approval mark so you know you are getting a product that is both safe and effective.
2. Hangover prevention
Activated charcoal is a quite popular component found in many OTC products that are aimed to reduce hangover symptoms. Some people even take the product before consuming alcohol in order to reduce its side effects. But the use of activated charcoal as a cure for a hangover or preventive treatment is not approved by health professionals since this substance does not capture alcohol well.
3. Drug or alcohol detox
Activated charcoal is probably effective in the standard treatment for poisoning. Moreover, one of the most documented uses of activated charcoal is a detoxification agent in cases of poisoning and overdose. Pores in activated charcoal catch toxins and prevent their penetration into the bloodstream. That’s why the product is often used in medical centers and emergency rooms.
4. Water filtration
Water filters with activated charcoal or carbon are available on the market. Charcoal filters can effectively clear your drinking water of certain substances such as chlorine and unpleasant odors. However, activated charcoal filters are not effective for filtering all harmful substances. For example, activated carbon can’t filter out ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, or some heavy metals.
5. Lower cholesterol
Studies have been controversy regarding the use of activated charcoal to treat high cholesterol. Some studies have shown that taking 4 to 32 grams of activated charcoal per day can help lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. However, other studies have shown no benefit of activated charcoal. Most large healthcare organizations don’t include activated charcoal in their recommendations for lowering cholesterol or lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
6. Prevention of gas, flatulence, bloating, heartburn or indigestion
Activated charcoal supplementation may provide some relief from gas because it can bind intestinal gases and shed them of the body. There were two studies in which the participants took activated charcoal (in amounts from 388 to 584 milligrams) after consuming gas-producing products. The authors of the study determined that the charcoal supplement provided relief. However, other studies have shown no benefit. This means that evidence to support the use of activated charcoal to soothe common stomach problems is still inconclusive.
7. Traveler’s diarrhea
Despite the fact that there is no strong evidence to support the use of activated charcoal for traveler’s diarrhea or related stomach problems, it can be effective in the case of an emergency. But the health organization doesn’t recommend to use the supplement for treating children with traveler’s diarrhea or dehydration.
8. Cholestasis during pregnancy
Some studies show that the use of activated charcoal to treat lower bile (a condition called cholestasis) during pregnancy can be quite effective. But experts still say that there is not enough evidence to support its regular use. Pregnant or lactating women should consult a doctor before taking activated charcoal or any other supplements.
9. Charcoal detox diet
Activated charcoal has detoxification properties and some health brands have begun selling drinks with the charcoal supplement. Stories about weight loss on the charcoal diet and how celebrities use charcoal to improve their health have also appeared in the media. Although it is possible that you can lose weight on a diet that includes activated charcoal, the product itself doesn’t bring benefits for weight loss.