What is activated carbon or also called activated charcoal? What does it do? In which areas is it used? Are there any benefits? Does it whiten teeth? Is it good for poisoning, constipation and diarrhea? Is there any harm? You can find the answers to all these questions and much more below.

History of activated carbon

In 1811, French chemist Michel Bertrand swallowed 5 grams of arsenic with activated charcoal to demonstrate the effects of activated carbon , or activated charcoal, and survived. Another scientist, Touery, had a similar idea in 1831. In front of skeptical colleagues at the French medical academy, the professor took a large amount of strychnine along with activated charcoal and survived. Yes, the positive effect of activated charcoal on detoxifying, or rather against poison, has been known for at least 200 years.

What is activated carbon?

Activated carbon (also known as activated charcoal) is a very useful adsorbent. Due to its high surface area, pore structure and high degree of surface reactivity, active k can be used to purify, dechlorinate, deodorize and lighten both liquid and steam applications. They are also economical adsorbents for many industries such as activated charcoal, water treatment, food grade products, cosmetology, automotive applications, industrial gas treatment, petroleum and precious metal recovery mainly for gold.

How is activated carbon made?

It is important not to confuse activated charcoal with conventional charcoal . The first two of the basic materials for activated charcoal are coconut shell or wood. The product you will use to make activated charcoal should be exposed to high heat but should not burn, and should not take in oxygen while heating so that it does not burn. High heat causes the coconut shell or wood to release various organic substances, smoke and gases, and in this way healthy activated charcoal is obtained. The simplest way to do this is to put pieces of coconut shell or wood in a large pot with a loose lid and literally cook the wood over a very hot fire.

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Where is activated carbon used?

Activated charcoal can be found in many parts of daily life, for example in the air filter in the car, in the kitchen aspirator, in the water filter, as a colorant in cosmetics and food . Activated charcoal is known as a particularly good medicinal product . Many people have these in their home and first aid kit in the form of activated charcoal tablets. Activated charcoal is also suitable for diarrhea as it can bind bacteria, bacterial toxins and excess water in the gut, and against gas disorders as it also absorbs gases.

Which products contain activated carbon?

One of the most well-known products containing activated charcoal is the activated charcoal tablet. In addition to all technical application areas, activated charcoal has been increasingly used in the food and cosmetic industries in recent years. Activated charcoal also has the potential to brighten teeth, so it’s also found in a variety of chewing gums and toothpastes. Pure activated charcoal is available as powder, pellets, tablets or capsules. Tablets and capsules are taken orally, pallets are more for filter systems, while powder can be used for external applications.

Are activated carbon tablets healthy?

Activated charcoal tablets contain additives and sweeteners. For this reason, tablets are not preferred for those who want to use only activated charcoal. However, if necessary, you can open the capsules and then use the contents for external applications, mouthwashes or similar.

Does activated carbon have a detox effect?

Due to its sponge-like structure, active k can bind (absorb) a wide variety of substances. This is especially beneficial in the gut , as these harmful substances do not then enter the bloodstream and can be excreted with the stool. However, once a poison has entered the bloodstream, activated charcoal can no longer help. In other words, it only binds substances/toxins in the intestine. Because of its powerful detoxification abilities, activated charcoal is one of five antidotes found in ambulance equipment.

What poisons does activated carbon inhibit?

Activated charcoal does not block all substances. Their adsorption abilities are limited only by their effectiveness with acids, alkalis, alcohol and metals. On the other hand, it can bind many drugs well and therefore is also suitable if you have taken a drug overdose . It also usually binds oral medications and plant toxins. However, it should be remembered that if you have accidentally taken poison or taken a drug or drug overdose, it is wise to go to the emergency room without delay.

Does activated carbon help with bloating?

Active k is an ancient alternative treatment for gas sufferers. Various early studies show that taking activated charcoal can relieve gas and stomach cramps. Other studies have shown no success, so whether activated charcoal will be effective clearly depends on the individual and the type of gas.

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Does activated charcoal help diarrhea?

Activated charcoal has long been used as a treatment for diarrhea . In a 2018 review, activated charcoal was considered a potential treatment option for diarrhea. Regardless of whether the diarrhea is bacterial-toxic or occurs in the context of irritable bowel syndrome , activated charcoal not only binds bacteria and toxic substances, but also prevents excessive water accumulation in the gut.

Does activated charcoal help with a hangover?

In the case of a hangover, activated charcoal does not help with a hangover by binding alcohol, as it enters the blood and has been in the blood for a long time. Although many people claim that activated charcoal helps with a hangover, this is not true. At most, it can bind toxic metabolic breakdown products that are formed when alcohol is broken down, found in the gut, and can be bound by activated charcoal before returning to the bloodstream.

Does activated charcoal lower cholesterol?

According to a study conducted in 1986, activated charcoal lowers the level of LDL (bad cholesterol) and also increases the level of HDL (good cholesterol). However, there were only 8 people in the study who took very high doses of activated charcoal (8 g three times a day for four weeks) per day. At that time the side effects were negligible. However, it is necessary to take into account the fact that the level of vital substances is not controlled during this period (since long-term intake of activated charcoal can lead to vitamin deficiency).

How does activated carbon affect the intestinal flora?

A 2001 study showed that activated charcoal absorbs harmful E. Coli bacteria . Active k reached its maximum adsorption within five minutes. However, it showed only a low binding capacity in relation to normal, i.e., healthy intestinal flora. However, there are not enough studies on the consequences of this condition in humans.

Does activated charcoal bind vitamins too?

A 2007 study showed that activated charcoal, when taken at the same time as a vitamin-rich juice, led to a potent but also dose-dependent reduction in vitamin C and vitamins B1, B3, B6 and biotin. Activated charcoal can also bind beneficial substances, which of course is not desirable in the long run. Therefore, it is better to consume activated charcoal only if you have eaten something bad or suspected that you have been poisoned. It is not healthy to take it regularly unless there is a good reason.

Does activated carbon whiten teeth?

Activated charcoal’s ability to bind bacteria and poisons can of course also be beneficial in the mouth and teeth area , where it can bind rotten bacteria and other residues. However, the constant use of activated charcoal or toothpaste containing this ingredient may not be as beneficial as it seems. Activated charcoal can also have an abrasive effect due to its powdery consistency, which means – like many toothpastes that promise white teeth – it has a kind of abrasive effect and can damage tooth enamel.

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Is activated carbon good for wounds?

Active k can also be used externally on the wound. In this way, it absorbs bacteria, leaking tissue fluid, dead tissue particles and odors from wounds. Before activated charcoal, clean and natural soil made into a paste can also be used for these situations. But the healthiest thing to do is to always see a doctor in medical situations.

When and for how long should activated carbon be taken?

If you want to detoxify an acutely consumed poison with activated charcoal, the first dose – depending on the poison – should be taken within the first hour, after a maximum of four hours. Activated charcoal can be taken for one to three days for complaints such as diarrhea, hangover or bloating. However, it is not taken regularly or permanently for such reasons and should not be taken.

How should the dose of activated carbon be adjusted?

The dose depends on the field of application. If you want to use it to combat gas, you can take small amounts of activated charcoal (for example, 500 mg 3 times a day) several times a day. In the case of acute diarrhea, several doses are usually taken per day, as described in the activated charcoal package insert.

In the package insert for ordinary carbon tablets, 2 to 4 tablets are recommended for diarrhea, 3 to 4 times a day (children take half). In case of acute poisoning, the number of tablets can be taken much more without hesitation, but this should be decided by the doctor.

Don’t forget! Activated charcoal should always be taken with sufficient water.

In the case of acute poisoning, however, medical professionals usually only give a single very high dose. However, additional doses may be taken in the hours that follow to bind any remaining particles. This is especially helpful if you overdose on certain epilepsy medications or anesthesia.

Children are given 1 to 2 grams of activated charcoal per kilogram of body weight in the first dose, then 0.25 to 0.5 grams per kilogram of body weight every 2 to 4 hours. However, you should not forget that the doctor should decide how and how much activated charcoal will be used.

What are the side effects of activated carbon?

It is generally accepted that activated charcoal is safe for short-term use. However, although rare, the following side effects are likely to occur:

  • Stomach ache
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • To vomit

Also, as mentioned earlier, activated charcoal should not be taken with medication as it may impair their effectiveness. This also applies to the birth control pill. Again, long-term use of activated charcoal can lead to vitamin deficiencies.

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