No health program is complete without addressing disease prevention. Sure, we eat clean, exercise, and get 7-9 hours of sleep, but in our modern-day culture our overall toxic load requires extra effort to balance out. From the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink to the products we use and the food we eat, toxic substances are present everywhere. And if these toxins are not ushered out of the body, they can potentially build up and cause serious damage.
That’s why a cleansing program is so important: cleansing helps to expedite the elimination processes, helping you let go of both new toxins and the ones that have been lingering in your body for some time. The more we support the safe clearance of toxins, the more we protect our cells from damage, preventing inflammation, the activation of aberrant genes and the onset of disease. One of our newest prevention practices? Drinking charcoal.
The Details: Activated charcoal is a carbon-rich material and natural binding agent derived from peat, coal, wood and coconut shell. Once activated, lots of internal spaces or “pores” are created (a 50 gram dose has the surface area of ten football fields!) to help the charcoal “trap” chemicals. It does this through a process called adsorption, where the charcoal binds to toxins. This differs from absorption, which is where a substance absorbs toxins. Due to charcoal’s unique properties, it is widely used in the medical community for treating poisonings and drug overdoses, and in holistic practices for cleansing.
The Research: Activated charcoal has been proven to be effective in safely binding to an array of poisons and toxins. It counteracts the toxins ingested by latching on and carrying them out through the bowels. Charcoal only attaches to substances that are still inside the stomach or intestines and does not draw toxins out of the tissues themselves. This is important because it does not pose any danger to those who are dealing with high levels of tissue toxicity, especially heavy metals. Activated charcoal adsorbs most organic chemicals, chemical drugs, inorganic chemicals, pesticides, inhaled fertilizers, and some heavy metals that reside in the gut.
In addition to acting as a detoxification treatment, activated charcoal has also been studied for many stomach disorders. Research indicates that it may offer relief in those who suffer from diarrhea, gas and indigestion, especially when caused by chemotherapy. Activated charcoal may also improve abdominal distention and pain caused by bloating, stomach cramps and gas. Other preliminary research studies propose that activated charcoal may help those with kidney disease, high cholesterol and bile acid levels, and itchy skin caused by advanced chronic kidney failure.
Other Uses: While not yet supported by concrete research, empirical evidence indicates that charcoal may be effective in the treatment of viruses, bacteria, fungal infections, bacterial toxic byproducts and snake venoms.
How to take it: Activated charcoal is best taken in a liquid beverage like fresh-made juice. It has little to no taste, so it can easily be added without any unpleasant side effects. Just make sure to drink plenty of liquid when consuming to ensure the charcoal is effectively passed through the system and does not cause constipation. We are personally drinking Pressed Juicery’s Green Charcoal, which has a therapeutic dose of charcoal that gets the job done with ease. You can also purchase activated charcoal made from coconut shells – just be sure you pick a brand that does not use sorbitol, which can lead to intestinal distress and adverse side effects. One of our favorite brands is Prescribed for Life.
What to know: Charcoal may interfere with the absorption of medications (even birth control) and food nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Be mindful of its use, only drinking two hours after other medications and meals. It should also be treated as a supplement, not a beverage, utilized for a targeted cleanse only. If medications are being taken, consult with your prescribing doctor before using. Activated charcoal does not bind to sodium, iron, lead, arsenic, iodine, fluorine and boric acid, nor alcohol. Finally, charcoal may cause constipation in some people so please cease use if this occurs.