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Benefits of Activated Charcoal: What Else Can it Do?

Benefits of Activated Charcoal: What Else Can it Do?

Surfing online for natural ingredients, you probably came across a fine, black powder called activated charcoal. Many shops say you can use this odorless powder to whiten your teeth or clear skin impurities. In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits of activated charcoal.

What is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is not the same coal we use to cook or grill.

It is made from heating carbon-rich materials, such as wood, coconut shells, or sawdust, at very high temperatures, thereby “activating” it. The activation removes previously absorbed materials, freeing up the binding sites again and making them highly absorbent.

The highly absorbent activated charcoal can bind to atoms, ions, and molecules. In fact, reports say one teaspoon of this substance has more surface area than a football field.

The Benefits of Activated Charcoal

Below are the purported benefits of activated charcoal:

1. It Might Help With Poisonings

One report said clinicians could consider administering an oral suspension of activated charcoal within one hour of ingesting toxins. This is because this substance has been shown to reduce absorption of ingested toxins significantly.

Note: While activated charcoal shows potential in treating poisoning or toxicity, we still don’t have enough information about patient-oriented outcome benefits, such as length of hospital stay, morbidity, or mortality with its use.

2. It May Help with Intestinal Gas

Another one of the possible benefits of activated charcoal is relief from intestinal gas.

A 2012 study examined some participants who had excessive intestinal gas. For two days, they took 448 mg of activated charcoal thrice a day. On the morning of the ultrasound, they also took 672 mg of the substance.

Examiners reported they were able to see some parts of the organs better. This is significant because gas would have obscured the view.

3. It Might Help Draw Skin Impurities in Skin

There are limited data on activated charcoal’s ability to improve skin condition. Still, since some studies show it can absorb toxins and bacteria from the body, some skin experts believe one of the benefits of activated charcoal is it can draw skin impurities out.

However, so far, what we have is only anecdotal evidence.

4. It Might Improve Kidney Health

Activated charcoal shows promising results in improving kidney function in animal experiments.

For instance, in a 2014 study, researchers purposely inflicted mice with chronic renal failure. Afterward, they fed them with a mixture containing 20 mg of activated charcoal. Examinations showed the mice experienced a reduced rate of kidney damage and inflammation and improved kidney function.

What About Teeth Whitening?

Perhaps, one of the famed benefits of activated charcoal is it allegedly whitens teeth. You might even find tons of dental care products containing it. However, there’s not enough evidence pointing to its effectiveness. Hence, there’s no guarantee that using this fine powder as your toothpaste will whiten teeth.

Reminders When Using Activated Charcoal

Now that we have a better understanding of the possible benefits of activated charcoal, let’s talk about some important reminders.

First, refrain from using the powder for any health issue that needs medical attention. Next, if you decide to use activated charcoal, do so in a minimal amount. Lastly, if you experience any untoward effects, stop using the powder immediately. Always consult your doctor.

Key Takeaways

Some of the possible benefits of activated charcoal are it might help with poisoning, relieve intestinal gas, improve kidney care, and draw skin impurities. However, there’s not enough evidence to say that it helps whiten teeth.

If you want to use activated charcoal, you need to be careful. Apply a small amount first and immediately discontinue use if there are untoward effects. Finally, remember that for any condition, the best course of action is to consult your doctor.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Activated Charcoal, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482294/ Accessed September 6, 2021

Activated Charcoal An Effective Treatment for Poisonings, https://www.poison.org/articles/activated-charcoal Accessed September 6, 2021

Alpha-galactosidase versus active charcoal for improving sonographic visualization of abdominal organs in patients with excessive intestinal gas, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3565684/ Accessed September 6, 2021

Charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices: A literature review, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0002817717304129 Accessed September 6, 2021

Activated Charcoal, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/activated-charcoal Accessed September 6, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Sep 10, 2021
Fact Checked by Kristel Dacumos-Lagorza