WHOEVER said “nut'n black nuh good” must have never tried activated charcoal. This black substance (also called activated carbon), which is usually sold in powder form, has a wide range of health and beauty uses. It is made from heating carbon-rich materials such as wood, coconut shells or sawdust, to very high temperatures. Though it looks simple, and a bit messy, it's easily one of those all-purpose items that you definitely want to have around your home for the new year.
Here are some of its uses:
Emergency poisoning treatment
Medical doctor Hamish Hayden confirmed that activated charcoal is one of the treatment options used in local hospitals in instances of overdose and chemical poisoning. “Because the charcoal particles cannot be broken down by the body, it will be passed out in the patient's stool, along with the toxic substance that binds itself to it,” Dr Hayden explains.
Though more research is still being done to determine exactly how this dark powder disrupts excessive gas in the digestive system, researchers have found that it definitely does. It is recommended to take one gram 30 minutes before and after each meal to help with intestinal gas issues.
May improve kidney and heart health
Activated charcoal has been found to improve kidney function in kidney disease patients so far, though more studies are needed. This is attributed to its filtration benefits. Because the kidney's job is to filter harmful toxins from the body, the activated charcoal helps to bind toxins and urea so that your body can dispose of them. Similarly, it binds some of the cholesterol-containing bile acids in the gut, so that you pass them out instead of absorbing them, eventually leading to lower cholesterol levels and better heart health.
Have you ever seen those dental hygiene and tooth whitening products that turn your mouth black and then you brush and rinse them away, with the promise of whiter, shinier teeth? Well those products are likely to have activated charcoal as their main active ingredient. There is still not enough evidence to prove that it whitens the teeth, but manufacturers of oral health products pitch its ability to absorb tiny bacterial and toxic particles as a major selling point.
As you can imagine, once it is found that a substance can trap tiny particles such as dirt and bacteria and make it easy for them to be removed, it is going to be used on the skin. Reports have supported claims that this product can help to draw dust, bacteria, and other fine particles back to the surface of the skin, so that they can be washed away.
Many people use activated charcoal powder just as one would use baking soda, to absorb unpleasant odours around the home and even on the body. Activated charcoal deodorants are widely available, and provide a worthwhile alternative for people who may have reactions to harsh chemicals. It has also produced favourable results in treating people who suffer from trimethylaminuria, otherwise known as fish odour syndrome.
On the same premise of its ability to trap bacteria and other microorganisms that may be present in water, activated charcoal is an excellent water filter. There are many filter systems and filtration films that use activated charcoal to filter water, as it has been proven to remove close to 100 per cent of impurities from the water that passes through it.