The Benefits of Activated Charcoal
Have you heard of the “rainbow diet”? It’s a diet where you aim to eat a balanced mix of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and purple foods.
I like the Rainbow Diet because it's filled with fiber, micronutrients, and phytonutrients. My only critique is that they tend to ignore the most important food color – black!
Black foods (coffee, cacao, black olives, black sesame, and chaga mushrooms, to name a few), are the most nutrient-dense foods for longevity (and natural beauty).
One black food, in particular, has recently gained more attention – and for a good reason.
Ready for it? It’s Activated Charcoal!
(Nope, not a ‘shroom – we also love repping non-mushroom superfoods)
I’ve been experimenting with activated charcoal in my own routine for a few years now. I use this versatile food in smoothies and to brush my teeth. When used right, charcoal is the bomb.
Today I’m going to talk about the benefits of consuming it. Why eat activated charcoal? As one study suggests:
“... Activated charcoal significantly ... reduced breath hydrogen levels... Symptoms of bloating and abdominal cramps attributable to gaseousness were also significantly reduced ... by activated charcoal.” (source)
Translation: It could support relief of gas.
But I’m not talking about the same charcoal found in your grill (please don’t eat that). Activated food-grade charcoal is chemical-free. It's usually made from coconut shells or other natural fibers and ground to a very fine powder.
Why “activate” it?
“Charcoal for medicinal use is created by the controlled pyrolytic decomposition of carbon‐based compounds, such as coconut shells... Thereafter, ‘activation’ with gases at high temperature removes previously adsorbed substances... resulting in an exceptionally porous final product” (source)
For non-scientists: Activation removes stuff that may be on the charcoal after processing. This leaves your activated charcoal squeaky clean and ready to mop up the bad guys. This is why it’s often the main ingredient in water filters.
It’s believed that ancient Phoenicians stored their water in charcoal-lined barrels. It was a primitive version of the activated charcoal water filters we use today!
How does activated charcoal work?
- Activated charcoal adsorbs. This means particles adhere to it, rather than absorb into it.
- Because activated charcoal has a negative ionic charge, it attracts positively charged particles like a magnet. It’s believed that most toxins in the system have a positive charge. (source)
- The body doesn’t absorb it. So it can grab impurities and pass right through (side note: that’s partly why chaga is also great for the gut)
Mini warning: I always recommend speaking to a doctor before consuming activated charcoal. Especially if you’re on medication since it binds to foreign particles.
It’s important to note that activated charcoal can’t remove all impurities. Think of it like clearing the browsing history – just from your body. It may or may not fix the problem. But it’s worth trying, right?
Charcoal is like “oil for the body” to help it run more smoothly.
So how do you use it?
I always keep some charcoal on hand for the relief of occasional over-indulgence. I also enjoy it as an occasional natural tooth whitener. Dip your toothbrush in loose activated charcoal powder. Brush, then rinse (bonus: smile for the camera).