What’s the Activated Charcoal Hype About? We’re Finding Out
They may call it ‘black gold’ all they like, but it’s still a struggle trying to wrap one’s head around the fact that consuming activated charcoal, internally or externally, will actually do you good. Is it even safe? We’ve tried to solve the mystery.
Having spent a lot of time at the new and trendy health cafés and juice bars in Paris lately – yes, things are finally shaking in gluten land – the activated charcoal trend becomes pretty evident: charcoal lemonade, charcoal latte, charcoal milk, and the list goes on. It’s basically the new matcha. But why? It clearly has something to do with detoxing and getting healthy, which is the basic selling point for any overpriced potion these days, but does it really have a place in the human body?
Now, activated charcoal isn’t news. It’s been used for things like cleansing water and air, and curing medicinal poisoning, for a really long time, but it’s only since a couple of years back that we’ve been able to get it in the form of toothpastes, face masks, soaps, facial puffs, sleeping masks, juices, shampoos, ice creams, bedroom pillows…possibilities are endless.
How it’s made, basically, is by treating wood – it can also be things like bamboo or coconut shell – at high heat for a long time to carbonize it into the highly porous activated charcoal. This process creates microscopic cavities in the material that enables the absorption of toxins, which is one of the major reasons why it’s so popular these days; the detox obsession is realer than ever. However, there’s no simple answer to weather it’s something you should actually consume or not – read on to find out why.
Here’s what our Internet searches has taught us about activated charcoal.
Activated charcoal is commonly used for its purifying effects and ability to absorb and bind toxins – in the air, in water, in the body, on the skin – and comes in many different forms (pulver, granules, pills, sticks…). Activated charcoal sticks, for example, are great for removing chemicals (like lead, cadmium, mercury, chlorine, and copper) from drinking water, and is at the same time said to release essential minerals (like magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphates) back into the water. You can also use the sticks in your bath to help detoxify and improve circulation.
There are several different toothpastes made with activated charcoal today. The charcoal not only cleanses the teeth and gum, but is said to gently bleach and polish the teeth without damaging the enamel, making your whites whiter. As activated charcoal is naturally antibacterial, this type of toothpaste will also keep your toothbrush fresh and clean longer, and if you want to to go all in, you can complimented the paste with a charcoal toothbrush (omg!).
The naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activated charcoal has deep cleansing properties, and works like a magnet to remove impurities, oil and sebum – and dead cells – from the skin and pores (deep down!), making it especially great for acne prone skin. You’ll find this ‘black magic’ in several different face mask, soaps and cleansing products, but also in things like konjac sponges, which are supposed to clean the skin in a super natural way with no additional cleansers needed.
Drinking or eating activated charcoal, in proper dosage, is said to cleanse the digestive system, improve liver function, cure hangovers and degree gas or bloat. However, the health benefits seems to be debatable and scientists disagree. As the activated charcoal might not actually know the difference between what’s toxic and what isn’t, it may as well absorb vital nutrients in the body, which will be flushed out together with the active charcoal. The charcoal’s adsorbent properties may also cause some problems for those on daily meds (even birth control), as it can absorb these substances too and therefore make the medicine ineffective.
Go by the standard rule: Everything in moderation.
As the activated charcoal works its magic, it cleanses the air and at the same time removes bad odor. A soap with activated charcoal is the best thing for stinky cigarette fingers, and you can use a charcoal stick to deodorize your fridge. Oh, and if introducing charcoal to your teeth cleaning routine, it will work on eventual bad breath too. There’s about a mill of these odor removal products with activated charcoal on the market, sky is the limit.
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