Activated charcoal is different from charcoal that is usually used for grilling, do not be confused as it is a black powder that is made from coconut shell, bone char, sawdust, or olive pits. It was once coined as a universal antidote, but it is now gaining popularity because of the benefits of activated charcoal to health. This element is now link to low cholesterol levels and even in teeth whitening.
The charcoal is activated using a high temperature. Subjecting it to a very high temperature can change the chemical structure to reduce pores size and elevated surface area. This method will make the charcoal porous and very fine compared to regular charcoal. Ordinary charcoal does not undergo high temperature and it has substances that are toxic to humans.
How does it work?
First, activated charcoal is not absorbed by the body. It works by trapping toxins as well as chemicals inside the gut to prevent its absorption. The porous texture is filled with negative charged that can attract positively charged molecules within the body like toxins and unwanted gases. Activated charcoal benefits the body by removing toxins out of the body through feces.
1. Treatment for Poison
Because of its ability to bind with toxins, this substance has lots of medical uses. In the case of poisoning, it can be used as a poison antidote and it has been beneficial for this purpose since the 1800s. Activated charcoal side effects can save people in cases of drug overdose such as sedatives, aspirin, and acetaminophen. Some studies show that by administering 50 to 100 grams within five minutes after drug ingestion can reduce the absorption of the drug by 74 percent. However, they also recorded that the effect may be reduced to 50 percent when the charcoal is administered later than five minutes.
It is imperative to take note that the use of activated charcoal benefits as poison antidote does not work in all cases of poisoning. For instance, it has been recorded not effective in eliminating alcohol, acid, and heavy metal poisonings like iron, lithium, and potassium.
2. Aids in Kidney Problems
Medical professionals have linked activated charcoal side effects to improve kidney functions by reducing the load of the kidney in filtering waste products in the body. This is a promising breakthrough for patients suffering from kidney failure. This condition is characterized by the inability of the kidney to clean the body’s waste products.
A healthy kidney does not have any problem in filtering the blood without any help. However, people with CKD or chronic kidney disease cannot remove waste like urea and other toxins in the urine. According to studies one of the benefits of activated charcoal is related to its effectiveness in binding urea as well as other waste products present in the body.
Another study using a charcoal supplement can aid in the decrease of urea in the blood especially in patients who are already suffering from end-stage kidney failure. However, further researches are needed to get conclusive evidence to support these claims.
3. Help Solve Fish Odor Syndrome
This condition is known as trimethylaminuria or fish odor syndrome. This is characterized by the body producing a very foul odor that is similar to a rotting fish caused by the compound trimethylamine or TMA when it accumulates in the body. People without this condition can convert it into a non-smelling compound right before it passes through the urine. However, patients with TMAU do not have the enzyme to convert this compound.
There are several studies shown that activated charcoal benefits by binding the TMA thus increase its excretion through the urine.
4. Helps in Lowering Cholesterol Level
Activated charcoal side effects are connected to reduce the level of cholesterol in the body. This is because of its binding properties that are effective in decreasing cholesterol. One study using 24 grams of the charcoal every day for four weeks has shown a significant decrease in cholesterol level by 25% and another 25% reduction of LDL bad cholesterol. There is also a reported increase in HDL by 8 percent.
5. Skin Treatment
The benefits of activated charcoal can also help in clearing the skin out of acne and as a treatment to insect and snake bites. Today, the charcoal is used by beauty products like facial cleansers and as an ingredient to facial masks. There are no proven studies about its effectiveness in treating poison from snake bites, but there are anecdotal reports that are not enough to prove this claim.