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Role of Charcoal in Detoxifying

Charcoal face masks and scrubs are a thing now. So are charcoal ‘detox’ drinks and smoothies. It is quite intriguing to know why. What is known as ‘activated charcoal’ is now trending due to its ability of detoxify the body. Let us first know, what exactly is activated charcoal.

When we first hear the word charcoal, we might imagine paneer or chicken barbeque. But activated charcoal is different from this.  Activated charcoal is fine black particles that are formed when any form of carbon source like coconut shells, wood, peat, sawdust is burnt. This charcoal gets activated due to heating at high temperatures, which results in uber fine charcoal particles, that make it more porous and increase its surface area.

Having discussed a little about what really is charcoal and activated charcoal, lets know what the concept is all about. Let’s get to know why products containing charcoal are selling like hot cakes these days!

Benefits of Activated Charcoal

What are some of the benefits of activated charcoal? Well, that’s what we’re about to find out!

1.    Remedy for certain cases of poisoning : This activated charcoal has been used as an antidote for poison. It does so by binding to the poison or the toxin and removing the toxic elements out of the system. In short, it is the perfect form of detoxification.

2.    Role in Chronic Renal Disease : Electrolyte imbalances, especially increased levels of phosphate is the primary cause of kidney failure or chronic kidney disease (CKD). It is believed that oral consumption of activated charcoal helps in removing the surplus phosphorus from the system in people with CKD.

3.    Treatment for drug overdose: Because of its property of binding and eliminating toxins, charcoal is also sometimes used in treating drug or over-the-counter medicine toxicity and over use.

4.    Filtering water: Activated charcoal is known to remove possible heavy metals and excess fluoride in water and thus helps in filtering and cleaning the water.

5.    Elimination of other toxins : Research suggests that activated charcoal helps in the removal of industrial and environmental toxins.

How does charcoal carry out detoxification ?

It does so by something known as the process of adsorption or binding of toxins and unwanted substances, due to its large and porous surface area. This prevents the toxins from getting absorbed in the digestive system.

It is also good to know which substances activated charcoal adsorbs, and which it doesn’t. Substances like anti-depressants, beta blockers, tetracyclines, certain diuretics and others are adsorbed. However, alcohol, some heavy metals and cyanides are few substances that this activated charcoal does absorbs ineffectively.

Are there any negatives of using Activated Charcoal?

From the above read, it does seem that activated charcoal is an ‘elixir’ and a go-to remedy for a lot many things. But of course there’s more to it than what meets the eye!

Experts suggest that activated charcoal is effective against elimination of certain types of toxins only. The human body has a detoxification system for itself in place, that works relentlessly to help in routine elimination and detox of toxins. Only when the levels of toxins in the body are above a certain level and in certain special cases, activated charcoal is recommended.
It can also cause nausea and vomiting in certain people due to its unpleasant and peculiar taste. This can sometimes lead to aspiration, followed by aspirational pneumonia in rare cases. That is why, it is always advisable to consult a doctor before using activated charcoal for detoxification.

So what is the final take away message?

Activated charcoal should only be taken if recommended by your doctor for some specific reason of intoxication.

Eating healthy and nutritious food that contain plenty of vitamins and nutrients, engaging in regular physical activity and managing stress levels will take care of most of the detoxification required by the human body. You can also try out Wellbeing Nutrition’s Apple Cider Vinegar with 2x the Mother, ACV + with turmeric, amla, cinnamon and black pepper, and Daily Greens as they make for perfect drinks when diluted or dissolved in water. Stick to the basics and you’re good to go!

References :

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