Before I get into how charcoal works and the benefits it can offer you, I want to talk a little about toxins from within and without. Understanding this will help you understand why we use charcoal and when we need to use it.
A quick ‘101’ on toxins in our body...
Toxins from within
Managing this is a core business here at Kultured Wellness. Many people have a leaky gut or have an overgrowth of pathogens in their gut. In fact, at Kultured Wellness we offer stool screening and consults to guide you through this process. The pathogens I’m talking about are some of those famous ones we all know. Candida, streptococcus, clostridium…as these pathogens live inside our guts, feeding and thriving on sugars in our diet, they produce waste. This is the same as the way you and I produce waste after eating and drinking. The kicker here is that pathogen waste products are a toxin in our body.
The various toxic by-products of these pathogens can make us feel lethargic, fatigued, brain fog, nauseous, gassy or bloated. A famous toxin we all know is the feeling of is the toxic by-product from Candida – acetaldehyde. This toxin gives us that drunk, sleepy feeling after we’ve had some sugary food. Be cautious though, the toxic burden on the body is not without consequences. Toxins that are released as pathogen waste, or that are released as they die off, can trigger an immune response, cause inflammation, rashes and allergies. They put undue strain on the liver and contribute to chronic disease development. We need to get serious and manage this risk.
Toxins from the outside world
Now here’s a can of worms! Toxins and chemicals that are foreign to the body are called xenobiotics. Xenobiotics can be drugs, pollutants, chemicals or any substance that is not naturally occurring in the body. We have a world full of them, in our plastics, cleaning products, personal care products, food-based toxins like pesticides, artificial flavours and colours.
It’s an overwhelming and inexhaustible list. The problem once again, is that they cause damage and inflammation in the body. They also put quite a lot of strain on the gut and the liver, whose primary job it is to detoxify the body.
How charcoal works
Now that we’ve covered in a simple way, how our body is exposed to toxins and how the liver has so much extra work to do, let’s talk about charcoal.
Charcoal has been around for thousands of years. Once again we can see that by tapping into ancient natural techniques for health we can naturally support the body without fear of side effects. Activated charcoal is an odourless, tasteless, safe, non-toxic substance that has an amazing binding capacity for toxins. There are even records of the Ancient Egyptians using charcoal for odour absorption. The charcoal we prefer to use is made from coconut shells. The shells are burned at a high temperature resulting in the activated state.
Activated charcoal is known as an ‘adsorbent’, so rather than absorbing toxins rather it binds them. It’s easy to think of adhering and adsorb to remember how charcoal works. The millions of tiny pores are what gives activated charcoal its amazing adhering capacity. In terms of surface area, 4 capsules of the activated charcoal can bind to the equivalent area of a football field. Charcoal is harmless to the human body and is not absorbed by the gut, which is how we can use it to our advantage. The toxins adhere to the negatively charged ions in the activated charcoal, and once bound are eliminated through the bowels. For a really effective detoxification and to support the liver you can combine charcoal with coffee enemas (discussed in this blog post).
Charcoals excellent binding capacity means that it can bind to nutrients in food, supplements and medication we do want to be taking. For this reason, charcoal needs to be taken 2 hours away from food or medications.
How to use your charcoal
Charcoal is used all around us for cleaning and detoxifying. It is used in air filters to deodorise, it is used in fish tank filters and other water filters to clean and purify water. Activated carbon filters are even used to clean and detoxify water used for dialysis patients. So how would you use it?
Many ways to use charcoal
- To manage abdominal distress such as gas and bloating
- To support the liver during times of extra toxic load – have you had exposure to chemicals that you normally don’t?
- Managing die-off of bugs within the gut
- Exposure to toxins like mould in your food or environment
- Try charcoal if you are feeling generally unwell, fatigued, groggy and not quite right.
- Skin rashes may indicate toxic load in the gut, try some charcoal to mop up in the gut.
- To whiten teeth – break open a capsule and pop on your toothbrush (mess alert!)
Remember, activated charcoal is a tool to use when you are feeling toxic. Knowing when to use charcoal is also a great way to learn to listen to your body. We also want to reduce exposure in the first instance by eating a nourishing diet, drinking clean water, managing stress, moving our bodies and reducing exposure to environmental toxins. Use charcoal as one weapon in your wellbeing arsenal. It may seem strange, but it sure packs a punch against toxins.
Click on the image below to shop our Activated Coconut Charcoal
- Pizzorno, Dr. J. (2017) The Toxin Solution: How hidden poisons in the air, water, food, and products we use are destroying our health – and what we can do to fix it. HarperCollins: New York