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Activated Charcoal

This black stuff is an amazing substance. It adsorbs more poisons than any other substance known to man. It is the highly absorbent gritty black material commonly found in air and water filters and has the well-earned reputation of being a universal antidote. It can adsorb most organic chemicals, many inorganic chemicals and countless poisonous substances before they can cause harm. Although activated charcoal can be used as an antidote in poisoning from most drugs and chemicals, it will not be effective against the following: cyanide, alcohol, caustic alkalies (such as lye), mineral acids, or boric acids. Strong alkaline and acid poisons need to be treated with solutions with the opposite pH. For example, until the ambulance arrives, calcium powder in water will help offset acids and vinegar will help offset alkalies. Consult a Poison Control Center (phone numbers are in the front of your phone book) or a doctor immediately, for instructions and information in any poisoning emergency. When mixed with water and swallowed to counteract poisoning, charcoal adsorbs the poison or drug, inactivating it. It then carries it inert through the entire length of the digestive tract and out of the body. Charcoal is not absorbed, neutralized, nor metabolized by the body. In a poisoning emergency, if the victim is conscious, first induce vomiting (unless he has swallowed an acid) if it can be done quickly. Induced vomiting will bring up about 30% of the poison from the stomach. Do not give charcoal before giving an emetic (to get him to vomit), because the charcoal will neutralize the emetic. Remember that charcoal will not work in cases of poisoning by strong acids or alkalies. Then give the charcoal to help inactivate the remaining 70%. Larger doses will be needed if the person has eaten a meal recently. Never give charcoal, or anything else, to an unconscious person to swallow. Contact a physician or ambulance immediately. How well activated charcoal really works in practical situations depends on several different factors: 1. 2. 3. 4. The type of toxicant (its chemical structure and physical properties) The amount and type of charcoal ingested. The length of time from toxin ingestion to activated charcoal ingestion. The contents of your intestinal fluids and intestinal transport efficiency.

As a general rule, a single large dose of activated charcoal should be taken as soon as possible after ingesting a poison. The amount of activated charcoal should exceed the toxic substance by a factor of eight (a ratio of 8:1). In other words, if you're poisoned with 5 grams of a chemical, you need to take at least 40 grams of activated charcoal. Some recommend ingesting a minimum of 50 grams of activated charcoal as a counter-poison, because ingesting large amounts of activated charcoal is harmless, and

taking too little is ineffective. The actual effectiveness of the activated charcoal will vary, so take more than you think you require. Activated charcoal should be taken within 30 minutes of ingesting the poison. The longer the delay, the less effective activated charcoal will be. On some poisons delaying more than 30 minutes decreases the effectiveness of the activated charcoal as an antidote by up to 60%. The bottom line is plain and simple. Keeping activated charcoal in your medicine cabinet and taking it if you are poisoned could save your life and your money too. Charcoal can do these various things because of its ability to attract other substances to its surface and hold them there. This is called 'adsorption' (not absorption). Charcoal can adsorb thousands of times its own weight in harmful substances. Nowadays, activated charcoal is often used to clear drugs and intoxicants that can enter the body through the intestinal tract, and even by injection and other routes. The systemic clearance of toxic substances or detoxification by activated charcoal is accomplished by taking multiple daily doses. Activated charcoal detoxifies the body in several manners: 1. Purifies the 6-8 liters of digestive fluids that are secreted daily which in turn helps remove foreign substances from the blood. 2. Absorbs the intoxicant substance and its metabolites that are excreted into the small intestine from the biliary (bile) tract, preventing their reabsorption. 3. Absorbs drugs that diffuse back into the stomach and intestines. 4. Decreases the detoxification work load of the liver. Activated charcoal shortens the time it takes an intoxicant to leave the system and decreases the duration and intensity of symptoms. People who take activated charcoal after drinking alcohol or taking recreational drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines recover quicker. For that reason, some recommend taking activated charcoal as part of a drug recovery program to ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce drug craving. Very few health practitioners realize that activated charcoal is the best single supplement for enhancing detoxification. Detoxification is an on-going biological process that prevents toxins (from infectious agents, food, air, water, and substances that contact the skin) from destroying health. Chronic exposure to toxins produces cellular damage, diverse diseases, allergic like reactions, compromised immunity and premature aging. Studies have also discovered that activated charcoal is a potent life-extending agent. It normalizes cholesterol and lipid metabolism. The regular use of activated charcoal improves the adaptive functioning of essential organs (the liver, kidneys, and adrenals). That translates into better defense mechanisms. So the cumulative effects from activated charcoal are longer life and improved overall health. You can help your heart and circulatory system by taking activated charcoal. Activated charcoal lowers the concentration of total lipids, cholesterol, and triglycerides in the blood serum, liver, heart and brain. In one study that was reported in the British journal, Lancet, on patients with high cholesterol, 8 gm of activated charcoal taken three

times a day lowered total cholesterol 25%, lowered LDL cholesterol 41% and doubled their HDL/LDL (high-density lipoprotein/low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol ratio. Microscopic tissue examination studies have shown that a daily dose of activated charcoal may prevent sclerotic changes in the heart and coronary blood vessels. Activated charcoal reduces the activity of some viruses. So if you catch a cold or the flu, try activated charcoal. You may suffer less and heal faster. Activated charcoal also prevents the poisonous activity of many harmful bacteria in the human body by adsorbing the toxins and enzymes that they generate. Studies have shown that activated charcoal is an effective treatment for dysentery, cholera, and many infectious conditions of the digestive tract. Activated charcoal can be an effective companion to any regimen for the treatment of systemic Candida albicans infections. Activated charcoal adsorbs much of the toxins that Candida produces that otherwise would be absorbed by the blood and carried throughout the body. These toxins produce pathological changes in tissues and organs and interfere with proper immune function. Candida toxins cause allergic reactions and are responsible for the debilitating symptoms of Candidiasis. It can also suppress the growth of intestinal-based yeasts and can alleviate the symptoms of yeast die-off so people can continue treatment and not suffer. Do not take required medications within 2 hours of taking activated charcoal. Activated charcoal has been used by physicians since the last century to treat various intestinal complaints. Abdominal distension (bloating) and flatulence respond favorably to treatment with activated charcoal. Diarrhea caused by food poisoning, bacteria, nervousness and other factors is usually alleviated by taking activated charcoal. Some physicians have used activated charcoal to stop bleeding from ulcerative colitis and calm spastic colons. Activated charcoal is the best intestinal deodorant available. Taking activated charcoal counteracts decomposition products from food (such as beans) that cause flatulence and diarrhea. Travelers to foreign countries would be wise to pack activated charcoal. In my opinion, activated charcoal is the most practical way to effectively counteract food poisoning. Studies have proven that activated charcoal is basically harmless. Ingesting high dosages does not interfere with sleep, appetite or well being--or cause major problems. There are several undesirable effects of using activated charcoal that can be avoided by complying with the following directions. Activated charcoal is highly adsorbent; when it is ingested at the same time as medication, supplements and foods it may decrease their absorption and utilization. Therefore, always allow 2 hours before and wait 2 hours after using activated charcoal to eat, take supplements or swallow medication. Activated charcoal has a natural tendency to cause constipation. That can be counteracted by taking a mild herbal laxative with the activated charcoal. Finally activated charcoal harmlessly blackens your stools. Because of the large volume of charcoal that is needed, it is easiest to take liquid preparation of charcoal powder. For example, to take 30 grams of charcoal a day in capsules would require that you swallow about 60 capsules. Furthermore, activated charcoal tablets are not effective. They take too long to disintegrate and release the activated charcoal.

Unfortunately, a simple water and charcoal mixture is unpalatable and messy. It tastes like a charcoal briquette, and blackens your teeth, gums and tongue. These problems can be avoided by ingesting a powdered activated charcoal complex that contains a thickening agent like Bentonite, with added flavors and mild sweeteners. Studies have shown that the addition of bentonite significantly improved the palatability of an activated charcoal and water slurry. Bentonite acts as thickening agent that reduces powdery mouth-feel and improves the taste without reducing the efficacy of activated charcoal. In fact, Bentonite is an enterosorption agent and a poison antidote in its own right. For example, bentonite has been shown to bind and reduce the poison paraquat. Experts advise that if you are using powdered charcoal then mix it with a tall glass of water and drink it with a straw. This will prevent your teeth from getting stained. If your teeth do get stained, there have been some instances, then brush your teeth and rinse with water. The stains will wear off. Do not consume activated charcoal with milk as dairy products lessen the effectiveness of charcoal. Bad odors, caused by skin ulcers, have been eliminated by placing charcoal-filled cloth over plastic casts. It has been used externally to effectively adsorb wound secretions, bacteria, and toxins. And, in poultices and packs, it treats infections of the face, eyelids, skin, or extremities. It must be stored in a tightly sealed container, because it readily adsorbs impurities from the atmosphere. (Leaving the top off a container of charcoal will partially purify the room it is in, to the degree that the air in the room comes in contact with the charcoal.) Charcoal poultices that are kept moist and warm actually draw toxins and poisons out through the skin tissue. This is because skin is a permeable membrane, which permits a variety of liquids and gases to enter and exit the body. Make the poultice just large enough to cover the injured part. The paste may be made by mixing equal parts of flaxseed meal or corn starch with the activated charcoal, in a bowl, and then adding just enough hot water to make a moderately thick paste. Then spread the paste over a porous cloth, covering over the top with another layer of that same cloth. Place the poultice over the area to be treated and cover it with a piece of plastic. Cover or wrap with a cloth, to hold it all in place. Secure by a tie, stretch bandage, or pin. Apply the poultice for 1 or 2 hours. If applied at bedtime, leave it on overnight. Adsorption takes place almost immediately. When it is removed, wash or gently cleanse the area with cool water. Repeat when needed. Poultices should, at the most, be changed every 6-10 hours. Do not put charcoal directly on the broken skin; because it may cause a tatooing effect, blackening the skin for a period of time.

Tid Bits You'll Want to Know:


Cautions: Activated Charcoal, as it is called in medicinal circles, is not the same product that is found in your barbecue. Therefore, even when charcoal is prescribed in a medical emergency, do not reach out for the charcoal inside the barbecue. Commercial barbecue charcoal is not only unfit for ingestion; it could be lethal.

Uses: Activated Charcoal has many uses internally and externally. It can be used to benefit men, women (including before, during or after pregnancy, and nursing) and children. It can be used as often as you would like. Voice of Experience: We never leave our home without some Activated Charcoal (bee/wasp/ant/scorpion tings, snake/spider bites, food poisoning, etc.) and Cayenne Pepper powder (for bleeding, heart attacks, etc.). We keep it in every vehicle and traveling bag. In cases of emergencies, we value few other bulk herbs than these. Storage: Activated Charcoal can absorb pollutants from the body, water, air, etc. For that reason, it is important that you store it in an airtight container. Light and temperature have little effect on it.