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Publish date: Nov 2, 2009
Summary: Activated charcoal is not the kind found on your burnt toast!
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What is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is made from insoluble carbonized wood that has been oxidized by gases like steam or air at high temperatures.
Charcoal from burnt food is not effective, and charcoal briquettes can be dangerous because they contain fillers and petrochemicals to help them ignite. Charred food is a product of charred proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and mineral salts, which have an adverse effect on the body.
This oxidative process erodes the charcoal’s internal surfaces to greatly increase its absorption capacity by creating an internal network of very fine pores. This process makes it possible for the charcoal to adsorb almost 100 times its weight in toxins, bacteria, chemicals, and unwanted medications. The charcoal attaches to the foreign bodies so that they are passed out of the body by elimination and prevented from replicating or being absorbed into the blood stream.
How Activated Charcoal Works
Activated charcoal works by adsorption, which is an electrical action, rather than absorption, which is a mechanical action. Activated charcoal adsorbs most organic and inorganic chemicals that do not belong in the body, but no studies have been able to prove that it adsorbs nutrients, as some people are afraid of. It will adsorb any medications however, and, other than in the case of an overdose, activated charcoal needs to be taken two hours before or after any medications.
Charcoal added to the diet of sheep for six months did not cause a loss of nutrients, as compared with sheep not receiving charcoal. Blood tests showed no significant difference between the two groups of animals, and there were no visible signs of any nutritional deficiency. A level of 5% of the total diet was given as charcoal. It did not affect the blood or urinary levels of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, inorganic phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, creatinine, uric acid, urea nitrogen, alkaline phosphatase, total protein, or urine pH.ii
The form of charcoal used in modern medical science is activated charcoal USP, a pure wood charcoal carbon that has no carcinogenic properties. Activated charcoal is an odorless, tasteless powder. One teaspoonful of it has a surface area of more than 10,000 square feet. This unique feature allows it to adsorbs large amounts of chemicals or poisons. The powder must be stored in a tightly sealed container, as it readily adsorbs impurities from the atmosphere.
What Charcoal Can Do
Activated charcoal is required by law in many states to be part of the standard equipment on ambulances for use in poisonings. Mushroom poisoning, brown recluse spider bites, and snakebites can all be treated with activated charcoal. Doctors also use activated charcoal to prevent and treat intestinal infections, and as cleansing and healing agents.
Jaundice of the newborn, bee stings, poison ivy reactions, and many other illnesses can be helped with activated charcoal. Many pediatricians and pediatric handbooks recommend that activated charcoal be kept on hand as an antidote in the family medicine chest, especially in households that include small children.
Scientific experiments over many years attest to the effectiveness of charcoal as an antidote. In one experiment, 100 times the lethal dose of Cobra venom was mixed with charcoal and injected into a laboratory animal. The animal was not harmed. In other experiments, arsenic and strychnine were mixed with charcoal and ingested by humans under laboratory conditions. The subjects survived even though the poison dosages were five to ten times the lethal dose.
Activated charcoal can be used internally and externally for humans and pets for the following:
- Antidote for food poisoning or accidental ingestion of poisons, poisonous spider, snake, or bug bites, or poison ivy
- Eliminate toxins that can contribute to anemia in cancer patients
- Filter toxins from blood, in cases of liver or kidney disease
- Deodorize colostomies and disinfect wounds (shouldn’t be used on open wounds or you may end up with a tattoo)
- Remove tartar and plaque buildup when used as toothpaste
- Alleviate allergy headaches, minor arthritic symptoms, menstrual pains, diarrhea, painful urination, flatulence, sore throat irritation, flu-like symptoms, drug overdose, cold sores, tooth abscesses, and toxin from foods.
Activated charcoal has no side effects or known cases of any allergic reactions. It has an infinite shelf life if the container is kept closed to prevent adsorption of caustic fumes.
Studies show that activated charcoal is harmless when it comes in contact with the skin. In rare cases, charcoal may mildly irritate the bowel in sensitive persons, but no allergies or side effects have been recorded.
Activated charcoal powder will not cause someone to have constipation, but if a person has a problem with constipation and then drinks charcoal slurry, the activated charcoal will back up the colon due to blockages already present in the colon. Research has shown that if a person has a problem with constipation and does a colon cleanse and addressed the cause of constipation, then that person can drink charcoal slurry without having the activated charcoal build up in the colon.
Activated charcoal can be purchased in tablets, capsules, or powder form. Tablets have one-half the potency of the powdered charcoal and the capsules are expensive but are easy to use. About 14 capsules equals a tablespoon of powder. It is most easily mixed in a small portion of water and is most effective if one tablespoon is used with one to two glasses of water. While some drugstores sell activated charcoal tablets, but the most economical way to purchase activated charcoal is in powder formIt should be taken only as needed to reduce dependency although it is definitely not addictive.Find more information in these books:
Rx Charcoal by Dr. Agatha Thrash, Dr. Calvin Thrash, and Phylis Austin
Home Remedies by Drs. Agatha Thrash and Calvin Thrash
Purchase charcoal today at the Amazing Health webstore.
Updated November 2009.
i. Science news 119:3 (1981).
ii. David O. Cooney, Activated Charcoal (New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc., 1980): 63.
These remedies are adapted from the book Healing Edibles & Other Home Remedies by Joe and Elsa Willis. Joe and Elsa Willis run Maranatha Medical Ministries, an medical outreach center in the mountains of Honduras. They help surrounding villagers with their health issues using principles of healthful living and the natural means God has given. Their assistance to the poor of Honduras has made a huge difference in the lives of many.
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