The Wonders of Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is one of the newest members to the skincare market. According to an article by Pub Med central, it was once a ‘universal antidote’. By extension, it still remains a powerful natural treatment form today. You’ll find that it has an array of benefits for your physical health and appearance. For instance, it can whiten your teeth, lower cholesterol levels, and soothe hangovers.

You can find this in the form of a fine black powder. Making this requires processing of coconut shells, bone char, peat, sawdust, or coal under high temperatures. The heat alters its internal structure. In this manner, its surface area expands and size of pores reduces. Hence, you will also find that activated charcoal is more porous than its regular form.

This ingredient provides a multitude of benefits to both your health and appearance. Take a look at some of these below.

Gut Health

Activated charcoal can trap harmful gut bacteria and toxins. This is because its porous texture gives it a negative electrical charge which attracts positively charged gases and toxins. In this manner, prevents absorption of the latter and gets rid of it in the form of faeces.

Emergency Poison Treatment

This ingredient can cure poisoning due to its toxin-binding nature. In fact, humans have been using this as a poison antidote since the early 1800s. Today, it is present in various drugs to provide medicinal effects. Further, many people use this to treat overdoses of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines such as sedatives or aspirin.

Many studies show this as well. For instance, one study shows that consuming 50-100 grams of activated charcoal within 5 minutes of ingesting drugs can lower drug absorption rates by as much as 74%. However, it is not as effective if you wait for long after ingesting drugs. For instance, one study finds that its effectiveness goes down 50% and 20% if you have it half an hour and two hours after drug overdose respectively. Alternatively, some people start with an initial dose (50-100 grams) and follow this with hourly doses of 30-59 grams each. However, taking multiple dosages is less common. Further, these may only apply to certain poisoning cases and not all.

Most importantly, this cure is unlikely to work for all poisoning cases. For example, it has little to zero effect of alcohol, iron, potassium, or heavy metal forms of poisoning. Thus, experts say that you shouldn’t routinely use this in all poisoning cases. Instead, you can use this depending on your case.

Kidney Functioning

Activated charcoal can priorly eliminate the number of waste products your kidneys need to filter. Thus, it lowers kidney strain and improves its functioning. Hence, this is of most benefit to patients with chronic kidney disease, when your kidneys can no longer filter out waste products effectively. This differs from the case with normal kidneys, which do not require any additional help.

This is where activated charcoal comes in. Its negatively charged ions attract positively charged toxins, and thus eliminate them effectively.First, urea and such toxins pass from the bloodstream to the gut through diffusion. Next, they bind to activated charcoal and leave the body.

But don’t just take this from us – science backs it up as well. For instance, one study shows how activated charcoal can lower levels of urea and toxin levels in the blood, among patients with chronic kidney disease. However, more evidence can help to strengthen these conclusions.

Lowers Symptoms of the Fish Odour Syndrome

The Fish Odour syndrome is a genetic condition occurring when the TMA compound gathers in your body. Thus, the presence of TMA in your urine, sweat, and breath can cause a foul and fishy odour. This is because people with TMAU lack the enzyme which converts it into an odourless compound. Thankfully, you can use activated charcoal to get rid of this.

As is evident above, the porous surface of TMAU can help to bind toxins such as TMA. As a result, it throws it out of your body entirely. There are a couple of studies which show this. For instance, one study shows that 1.5 grams of charcoal supplements for 10 days lowers levels of the compound. In fact, to was equal to that of healthy individuals.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol is common among those with sedentary lifestyles and poor diets. On one hand, overall lifestyle changes are necessary to bring down cholesterol levels. However, there are certain supplements you can use to boost the process. Activated charcoal is one of them. This is because it binds with cholesterol and cholesterol-infused bile acids of the gut and thus stops the body from absorbing it.

One study finds that just 24 grams of activated charcoal per day for four weeks lowered total cholesterol by 25% and bad LDL cholesterol by 25%. Additionally, good HDL cholesterol levels also increased by 8%. Secondly, another study finds that just 4–32 grams of activated charcoal daily lowers total and bad LDL cholesterol by 29–41% among high cholesterol patients. Further, this study shows that larger doses are most effective.

Safety Levels

Overall, this is safe to use in most cases. However, it can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, black stools, or constipation. Similarly, some rare cases links it to bowel blockages or holes. Further, there is the risk that it may reach the lungs rather than the stomach when you use it as an antidote. This is especially the case if a patient has been vomiting, drowsy, or not fully conscious. Thus, make sure that the patient is entirely awake or conscious.

Some studies also find that it can worsen cases of ‘variegate porphyria’. This is a rare genetic disease which harms the gut, skin, and nervous system.

Also, it can affect the absorption rates in certain medicines. So, make sure to consult a doctor or expert if you consume this alongside medication. In most cases, a dosage of 50-100 grams should be safe. However, a lower dose of 10-25 grams works best for children. You can have this as a pill or powder (dissolved in with water or a non-acidic juice)


Activated charcoal is an incredible detox and cleansing ingredient. It’s smooth, porous surface can bind with toxins and impurities, thus eliminating them from the body. Thus, this can help restore gut health, kidney functioning, and cholesterol levels. Further, it can work as an antidote for poisoning and lower the symptoms of the fish odour syndrome. However, it is important to stay cautious of certain risks and side effects. In summery, be sure to consult a doctor or expert  if you face gastrointestinal ailments on consuming this, or if you go for other medicines alongside.

Check out the four simple ways to detoxify through Ayurveda. 

Join us at Mekosha for an Ayurvedic retreat in Kerala. 

Article By:

Mekosha Ayurveda

"The Mekosha team works hard to put together curated knowledge to help you with your holistic healing journey. Subscribe now to receive more such useful articles."

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