Growing up, my mom was always whipping up some natural ointment or concoction in the kitchen to give to me and my sisters when we got hurt or sick. It seemed like it was always smelly and tasted horrible, but we would choke it down or allow her to dab it on our skin, hoping for quick relief from whatever ailed us.
The ultimate experience was when I had to take a bath in smelly, herbal tea to soothe an itchy rash. To this day, I get flashbacks whenever I smell that tea, and I vowed never to put my kids through that.
Never Say Never
It wasn’t always pretty, but those natural remedies were effective. Now that I’m a mom, I see that they were also a lot healthier for us. This led me to begin researching natural remedies to use on my own kids. One of my research projects was on the uses of activated charcoal.
I’ll share my findings with you – you just might be as amazed as I was.
What is Activated Charcoal?
Charcoal has been used as a natural remedy as far back as recorded history. It has been an official remedy in the United States for at least 100 years. It’s known as an antidote because, when administered, it absorbs most organic toxins, poisons and chemicals before they cause harm to the body.
However, not all types of charred items are healthful. Ashes from burned wood, charred toast and other scorched food are not charcoal. Pure, activated charcoal is the type that’s beneficial as a natural remedy.
Activated charcoal is produced from controlled burning of wood or bone which is then exposed to an oxidizing gas such as steam or air at elevated temperatures. This process makes the charcoal even more absorptive.
This article illustrates just how absorptive activated charcoal can be:
“It was 1831. In front of his distinguished colleagues at the French Academy of Medicine, Professor Touery drank a lethal dose of strychnine and lived to tell the tale. He had combined the deadly poison with activated charcoal.
That’s how powerful activated charcoal is as an emergency decontaminant in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which includes the stomach and intestines. Activated charcoal is considered to be the most effective single agent available. It is used after a person swallows or absorbs almost any toxic drug or chemical.
- Activated charcoal is estimated to reduce absorption of poisonous substances nearly to 60%.
- It works by binding (absorbing) chemicals, thus reducing their toxicity (poisonous nature), through the entire length of the stomach and small and large intestines (GI tract).
- Activated charcoal itself is a fine, black powder that is odorless, tasteless, and nontoxic.
- Activated charcoal is often given after the stomach is pumped (gastric lavage). Gastric lavage is only effective immediately after swallowing a toxic substance (within about one-half hour) and does not have effects that reach beyond the stomach as activated charcoal does.”
This shows just how powerful activated charcoal is and why it’s considered to be the single most effective agent available. This is why I always have a bottle in my cabinet and it’s also why I feel every mom needs a bottle at home. Here are a few ways you can use it:
7 Uses of Activated Charcoal
- Accidental poisoning – with young kids at home, moms always need a plan in case of accidental ingestion of poisonous substances. In the event of this type of emergency, call the poison control center or 911 immediately. They can give you advice on the correct dosage to take. It’s important that the proper amount of charcoal be given as quickly as possible. Here are some dosage guidelines from the Mayo Clinic.
- Spider bites – apply a paste of charcoal and baking soda to the affected area to help draw out the toxins. Apply the mixture to bandages or cloth and cover a large area around the bite. Be sure to get medical attention immediately.
- Mosquito bite or bee sting – a paste of charcoal and coconut oil can really help in soothing itchy or aching bites. Apply a small amount to affected area, reapplying periodically until relief is felt.
- Nausea or vomitting – charcoal can help in settling an upset stomach. I’ve used about 1/2 teaspoon of charcoal in 8 ounces of water. Be sure to drink plenty of water after taking the dosage to help keep things “moving along.” Some find it helpful to follow up with sips of apple cider vinegar mixed in water to futher help calm the stomach.
- Naturally whiten teeth – charcoal is a great natural whitener for your teeth and a healthy alternative to many store brands. I’ve used it many times to whiten my teeth. Simply dip your wet toothbrush into the power and brush. It can get messy and can stain fabrics and grout, so be sure to cover up.
- Face mask for acne – using charcoal as a mask can help pull out toxins and impurities in the skin. I’ve used this several times with good results. Open three capsules in a bowl and add a little water and honey, or mix it directly with aloe vera gel. Mix into a paste and apply for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Eliminate odors – charcoal is very absorbent and a good alternative to baking soda in the refrigerator. Put some powder in a bag and leave open in the back of the refrigerator. You can change it each time you clean out the refrigerator.
As with any substance, be sure to check with your doctor or medical professional before using, especially in a life-threatening situation.