Activated charcoal has been used for over 10,000 years in both Eastern and Western medicine, to support intestinal health, soak up toxins, and prevent poisonous substances from doing damage, so it's no wonder that we're starting to hear a lot more about this substance.
Activated charcoal is made by burning carbon sources like wood or coconut shells at a high heat, which creates tiny, negatively charged pores on its surface. These tiny pores attract, bond, and trap positively charged toxins, gases, heavy metals and chemicals in a process called adsorption (different to absorption). The bound toxins can then be carried safely through the body and excreted with minimal damage.
Sadly, the activated version is not what you would find on your barbeque, which is actually incredibly toxic and harmful... you will need to search for specific brands and trusted suppliers!
In ancient times, activated charcoal was used to treat anthrax and epilepsy, and now it's primarily used in medicine for overdoses and to help with emergency poison control. Recently though, the health benefits for digestion, detoxification and cleansing are becoming more widely known and are being used in home settings.
Toxins from the environment can wreck havoc on our bodies, destroying cells, effecting the functioning of our immune system, and contributing to early ageing. Binding the bad guys can help prevent this damage, and help to relieve skin issues, allergies, and digestive problems like gas, pain and bloating.
Not only can activated charcoal be taken orally to do some careful inside work, but the latest trend is to include it in a skincare regime, with Instagram boasting many pictures of sexy black charcoal face masks! The charcoal can actively bind to dirt and toxins on the skin, pulling them out, which eliminate or prevent the formation of acne. Not only that, but activated charcoal can be used topically for skin inflammation, insect bites, and poison ivy infections. It's definitely something that you'll want to add to your first aid and beauty kit!
Studies have shown that activated charcoal can be very effective at reducing intestinal gas, and that a daily intake could also protect against certain cardiovascular issues. One study highlighted that in just 4 weeks, charcoal was able to increase HDL cholesterol (the good stuff) by 8% and reduce LDL cholesterol (the not-so-good-stuff) by 41%! The substance is thought to additionally support the adrenal glands and prevent damage to the liver and kidneys.
As toxins can circulate in the blood and accumulate in the brain, charcoal may also help with symptoms like brain fog, other cognitive issues and... well... even hangovers!
If you're still not sold on the idea of consuming it as a type of supplement, charcoal can actually be used in a jug as a filter, pulling those common toxins out of your tap water.
Charcoal may not be great for everyone though, and if you're on medication you may want to think twice before consuming it, as it can stop drugs from working effectively. Additionally, if you have any severe digestive issues or have recently had surgery, hold back on the charcoal until you have the all clear.
Other tips for charcoal consumption include drinking lots of water to prevent constipation, and consuming it 3 hours away from eating so it doesn't stop nutrient absorption from your food!
Want to try it as a latte? It's SO simple... check out my recipe for a "black latte" here
For more nutrition information or for an individualised nutrition consultation, head on over to: www.jodiebrandman.com