Using activated charcoal regularly to detoxify the body or as protection from environmental toxins is popular, but is this a safe practice?
Activated charcoal has been one of the most important remedies in my natural medicine cabinet for over 25 years.
I first came across its highly effective detoxifying abilities in the early 1990s. Our new puppy ate some poisonous mushrooms that had quickly sprouted up in the yard after a heavy rain.
The vet gave her some activated charcoal to quickly remove the hallucinogenic toxins from her system. She was back to normal within a couple of hours, no worse for the wear!
How Activated Charcoal Does its Magic
Activated charcoal is a form of carbon with an increased surface area.
To make it, a carbon source such as coconut shells, wood, or coal is treated under certain conditions to increase its surface area or number of “pores”.
On average, the estimated surface area for a gram of activated charcoal is about 500 square meters!
This enormous surface area in such a tiny amount allows the adsorption of chemicals, pathogens, and other toxins before they can do damage to a biological system…your body!
To explain, absorption is the process by which substances are sucked up into the internal structure of other substances, such as cells.
However, adsorption requires only that substances be able to stick to the outside of the neutralizing medium. In this case, activated charcoal is the agent of prevention.
Taking two capsules of activated charcoal (560 mg) with a glass of water is a safe and nearly foolproof method of stopping an attack of food poisoning in its tracks.
This is the brand I suggest made from coconut shells.
AC neutralizes pathogens by keeping them from attaching to the intestinal wall or otherwise harming cells.
This hastens the end…or entirely prevents (if you take AC quickly enough) what can often be a lengthy and highly uncomfortable process of vomiting and diarrhea!
Gluten, MSG and Glyphosate
Besides gastrointestinal pathogens, activated charcoal is highly effective at removing other harmful substances from the body.
For example, if upset stomach or gas occurs after a restaurant meal, AC can quickly halt the painful symptoms.
This is an important home remedy for accidental consumption of gluten, MSG, or any another food/chemical that you are sensitive to.
Activated charcoal will even protect your system from glyphosate contamination in food.
Thus, it’s a good idea to always have some activated charcoal with you when you travel.
Activated Charcoal Daily Detox?
The incredible effectiveness of activated charcoal as a super detoxifier in extreme circumstances has resulted in some influencers recommending its daily use.
A worrisome trend on the college scene is using activated charcoal to detox recreational drugs or alcohol from the system.
Certainly taking AC on an occasional basis in an emergency is wise when accidental ingestion of a pathogen has occurred.
However, it most definitely should NOT be used regularly as protection against toxin exposure. An even more foolish use is an easy way out of the consequences of toxic lifestyle practices.
The reason is because activated charcoal will not only prevent toxins from harming the body.
Activated charcoal also prevents the body from metabolizing NUTRIENTS!
In short, activated charcoal is an equal opportunity adsorption agent.
It will prevent a substance from affecting your body no matter if it is a toxin or a nutrient.
Taking activated charcoal every day or regularly for detoxification purposes is going to put you at risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
This is the case even if you are eating a nutrient-dense diet.
Do not succumb to the hype that taking activated charcoal every day is a healthy practice.
While it definitely prevents toxin exposure, it will likely put you at risk for malnourishment too.
Withholding nutrients from the body is a very stressful experience biologically. It can have unintended consequences that can be challenging to mitigate later.
Activated charcoal is only to be used when your system is unexpectedly overwhelmed by a toxin. In other words, it should be reserved for extreme and infrequent situations.
To minimize exposure to everyday toxins, a clean lifestyle that includes nutrient-dense diet loaded with natural forms of the fat soluble vitamins A, D and K2 (vetted brands I use here) is more than sufficient protection.