Activated Charcoal


Schizandu Organics Coconut Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal supplements, renowned for their potent absorptive properties, have garnered significant attention in the health and wellness industry. Originating from natural, carbon-rich materials such as coconut shells, wood, or peat, these supplements undergo an activation process involving high temperatures and gases to create a highly porous form of charcoal. This process enhances their ability to bind to toxins, chemicals, and gases, making them a unique and versatile component in various health applications.

One of the most critical uses of activated charcoal supplements is in the field of emergency medicine, particularly for treating certain types of acute poisoning and drug overdoses. Their ability to adsorb toxins in the gastrointestinal tract plays a crucial role in emergency care, preventing the body from absorbing harmful substances. However, it’s important to note that activated charcoal is not universally effective against all types of poisons and should be administered under professional medical guidance.

The top 10 Activated Charcoals

Product name Image Rating Pros Cons Best Price More information

TOP PICK

Schizandu Organics Coconut Activated Charcoal


Schizandu Organics Coconut Activated Charcoal
  • 100% pure
  • Suitable for internal and external use
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Not FDA approved (like many supplements)
  • Some users dislike the capsule form
  • Possible stomach discomfort
Coming Soon!

BUDGET PICK

Viva Doria Virgin Activated Charcoal Powder


Viva Doria Virgin Activated Charcoal Powder
  • Derived from selected hardwood
  • Food-grade and suitable for various uses
  • Offers bulk options
  • Can be messy
  • May cause digestive discomfort in some
  • Taste can be challenging for oral consumption
Coming Soon!

Nature’s Way Activated Charcoal


Natures Way Activated Charcoal
4 and a half star review
  • Derived from coconut shells.
  • Encapsulated for ease of use
  • Trusted brand
  • Not suitable for daily consumption
  • May cause constipation
  • Can interfere with medication absorption
Coming Soon!

Bulletproof Coconut Charcoal


Bulletproof Coconut Charcoal
  • Ultra-fine grain for better absorption
  • Derived from coconut shells
  • Supports digestive health
  • Pricey compared to some competitors
  • Capsules can be large and difficult to swallow for some
  • Potential for black stools
Coming Soon!

Zen Charcoal Hardwood Activated Charcoal Powder


Zen Charcoal Hardwood Activated Charcoal Powder
  • Multipurpose: for internal and external use
  • Sourced from USA hardwood
  • Food-grade quality
  • Messy to use as a powder
  • Taste can be off-putting to some
  • May cause constipation if taken without enough water
Coming Soon!

Organika Activated Charcoal Powder


Organika Activated Charcoal Powder
  • Food-grade quality
  • Suitable for various uses including face masks and teeth whitening
  • Sourced from coconut shells
  • Messy to handle
  • Taste might be unpleasant for oral use
  • Portioning can be challenging
  • Pricey
Coming Soon!

NaturaLife Activated Charcoal Capsules


NaturaLife Activated Charcoal Capsules
  • High potency
  • 100% organic and natural
  • No fillers or binders
  • Capsules can be large for some
  • Might cause black stools
  • Not suitable for long-term consumption
Coming Soon!

Pure Organic Ingredients Charcoal Powder


Pure Organic Ingredients Charcoal Powder
  • Food-grade
  • Multipurpose
  • Lab-tested for purity
  • Can be messy
  • Requires careful portioning
  • Not everyone likes the powdered form
Coming Soon!

Dr. Bo Activated Charcoal Capsules


Dr. Bo Activated Charcoal Capsules
  • Gas and Bloating Relief
  • Natural Charcoal Pills Detox
  • Highly Absorbent
  • Digestive Support
  • May Cause Diarrhea
Coming Soon!

Sports Research Activated Charcoal Capsules


Sports Research Activated Charcoal
  • Made from coconut shells
  • Non-GMO verified
  • Contains organic coconut oil for better absorption
  • Pricey for some
  • Capsules can be large
  • May cause constipation if not consumed with enough water
Coming Soon!

Additional Reading

In the realm of digestive health, activated charcoal supplements are often sought after for their potential to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms like gas and bloating. The theory is that the charcoal binds to excess gases and toxins in the digestive system, although the effectiveness of this application is subject to ongoing debate and research within the medical community.

The detoxifying qualities of activated charcoal have also spurred its popularity in the wellness sector, with many products marketed as natural detox solutions. While the concept of using activated charcoal to cleanse the body of toxins is appealing, scientific evidence supporting its routine use for general detoxification is limited. The body’s liver and kidneys are typically very effective in naturally detoxifying the body without the need for supplemental aids.

In oral health, the use of activated charcoal in toothpastes and powders for teeth whitening and plaque removal has become increasingly popular. While some users report positive results, the long-term effectiveness and safety of these products are still being evaluated, and dental professionals advise caution.

Additionally, some studies suggest that activated charcoal supplements might aid in lowering cholesterol levels. The charcoal is thought to bind with cholesterol and bile acids in the gut, reducing the body’s absorption of these substances.

The History of Activated Charcoal

The use of activated charcoal has a long and varied history, particularly in health and beauty contexts. Its journey from ancient traditional medicine to modern-day cosmetic and health products reflects a blend of historical practices and contemporary scientific understanding.

Ancient and Early Historical Use

The earliest recorded use of charcoal for medicinal purposes dates back to ancient Egyptian civilization, where it was used to absorb unpleasant odors and for the preservation of mummies.

Hippocrates and Pliny the Elder

Around 400 BCE, Hippocrates, the Greek physician, advocated for the use of charcoal for various medical purposes. Later, Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist, documented the use of charcoal for treating a range of ailments, including epilepsy and anthrax.

Charcoal continued to be used in various forms throughout the Middle Ages, often as a remedy for digestive ailments and as an antidote to poisoning.

17th and 18th Centuries

Charcoal was commonly used by pharmacists and doctors for its absorptive properties, especially in cases of overdose or poisoning.

Industrial Age to 20th Century

Activated Charcoal Development

The process of “activating” charcoal, which involves treating it with oxygen to open up millions of tiny pores between the carbon atoms, was developed in the 20th century. This increased its absorptive properties significantly.

World War I

Activated charcoal was used in gas masks to protect soldiers from toxic gases, showcasing its powerful filtering capabilities.

20th Century to Present

Medical Uses

Its use in emergency medicine became widespread, particularly as a treatment for poisoning and overdoses, due to its ability to bind to a variety of drugs and toxins, reducing their absorption in the body.

Water Purification Activated charcoal filters became common for water purification, used both in industrial and domestic settings.

Modern Health and Beauty Industry

Oral Care In recent years, activated charcoal has become popular in oral hygiene products like toothpaste and teeth-whitening powders, due to its purported ability to absorb plaque and other compounds that stain teeth.

Skin Care The beauty industry embraced activated charcoal for its potential to draw out impurities from the skin. It is now a common ingredient in facial cleansers, masks, and exfoliating products.

Detoxification Claims

Many health products claim that activated charcoal can “detoxify” the body, though these claims are often not supported by strong scientific evidence.

Criticism and Safety

Despite its popularity, some uses of activated charcoal, especially in the beauty and health industry, face criticism for lacking scientific backing. The efficacy of charcoal in skincare and detoxification diets, for instance, is debated among professionals.

Current Trends and Research

Continued Research The scientific community continues to explore the potential benefits and limitations of activated charcoal in both medical and cosmetic contexts.

Ingredients (if applicable)

Base Materials

Activated charcoal is typically produced from carbon-rich sources like wood, coconut shells, peat, bamboo, coal, or sawdust. These materials are chosen for their high carbon content.

Activation Process

The base materials undergo an “activation” process which involves treating them with high temperatures and certain gases like steam or air. This process greatly increases the surface area of the carbon particles, creating a highly porous structure.

Absorptive Properties

The primary characteristic of activated charcoal is its high degree of microporosity. One gram of activated charcoal can have a surface area in excess of 3,000 square meters, provided by the network of submicroscopic pores.

No Additional Chemicals

In its pure form, activated charcoal doesn’t contain any other additives or chemicals. Its effectiveness is solely due to its physical structure and surface chemistry.

In Health and Beauty Products

When used in health and beauty products, activated charcoal is often combined with other ingredients. For instance, in skincare products, it might be mixed with clays, essential oils, or other skin-beneficial ingredients. In oral care products, it may be combined with various components like fluoride, calcium, flavors, and sweeteners.

It’s important to note that while activated charcoal in health and beauty products is generally considered safe, its consumption in dietary supplements or health products should be approached with caution. Ingesting activated charcoal can interact with certain medications and may not be suitable for everyone. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or supplement.

Who should take this product

Adults Seeking Digestive Relief

Individuals experiencing occasional bloating and gas may find temporary relief using activated charcoal. It’s thought to absorb excess gas in the digestive tract, although its effectiveness can vary from person to person.

Those Interested in Short-term Detoxification

Some people opt for activated charcoal supplements as a short-term detox solution, such as after suspected food poisoning or mild gastrointestinal infections. However, its effectiveness as a general detox agent is debated and not well-supported by scientific evidence.

Individuals Looking for Occasional Oral Detoxification

Activated charcoal is used in oral care products for its potential to absorb toxins and bacteria in the mouth, contributing to oral health. However, its effectiveness in whitening teeth and improving oral health is not conclusively proven.

People Interested in Natural Remedies

For those who prefer natural remedies and supplements, activated charcoal might be an option for occasional use, particularly for addressing acute digestive issues.

Individuals with Occasional Skin Issues: Topically, activated charcoal can be used in masks and cleansers for those looking to remove impurities from their skin. It’s believed to draw out oil, dirt, and other substances from pores.

What this product is NOT intended for

Children

Particularly in emergency situations like poisoning, activated charcoal should only be given to children under professional medical supervision. It’s generally not recommended for routine use in children due to the risk of potential side effects and dosage concerns.

Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women

Due to limited research on the effects of activated charcoal during pregnancy and lactation, it’s advisable for pregnant or breastfeeding women to avoid using these supplements unless under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Individuals with Gastrointestinal Blockages or Chronic Dehydration

Activated charcoal can exacerbate constipation and blockages in the gastrointestinal tract. People with existing digestive issues, such as bowel obstruction or chronic constipation, should avoid it. Similarly, those prone to dehydration should use it with caution.

People on Certain Medications

Since activated charcoal can absorb and interfere with the absorption of many medications, individuals taking prescription drugs, especially life-saving or critical medications, should consult a healthcare provider before using it. This includes medications for heart disease, psychiatric conditions, and hormonal contraceptives.

Individuals with Specific Health Conditions

People with conditions affecting the liver, kidneys, or those with reduced liver or kidney function should be cautious. Activated charcoal may affect the body’s ability to process and eliminate substances, potentially exacerbating these conditions.

Those Seeking Treatment for Non-poisonous Issues

Activated charcoal is not effective against toxins from corrosive agents (such as acids and alkalis), iron, lithium, alcohol, or certain other heavy metals.

Long-term Use

Regular or long-term use of activated charcoal is not recommended due to potential side effects, such as vitamin deficiencies, nutrient absorption issues, and gastrointestinal problems like constipation.

People with Respiratory Diseases

In cases of ingestion, there’s a risk of activated charcoal powder being inhaled, which can be dangerous for individuals with chronic respiratory conditions.

Pros and Cons table

Pros

  • Effective for Certain Poisonings and Overdoses: Proven to be effective in emergency situations for binding and removing certain toxins and drugs from the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Digestive Relief: May provide relief from bloating and gas due to its ability to absorb excess gas in the digestive tract.
  • Oral Health Benefits: Used in oral care for absorbing plaque and other substances, potentially contributing to oral hygiene and teeth whitening.
  • Detoxification Claims: Marketed for detoxifying the body, especially after exposure to contaminated food or mild infections.
  • Natural and Versatile: Viewed as a natural remedy, it is used in various forms, from pills to powders, catering to different preferences.
  • Topical Benefits for Skin: Employed in skincare products to remove impurities and clear pores, potentially benefiting oily and acne-prone skin.
  • Short-term Oral Detox: Some use it in oral care routines for short-term detoxification and breath freshening.
  • Emergency Use in Pets: Sometimes used in veterinary medicine to treat poisoning in pets, under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Cons

  • Not Effective for All Toxins: Activated charcoal does not work for all types of poisons, such as alcohol, heavy metals, and acids or alkalis.
  • Potential Digestive Side Effects: Can cause constipation, black stools, and in rare cases, bowel obstruction.
  • Abrasive to Teeth: Can be abrasive and potentially damaging to tooth enamel when used frequently in oral care.
  • Unsubstantiated Detox Claims: Scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of activated charcoal as a detox agent is limited.
  • Interference with Medication Absorption: Can absorb and reduce the effectiveness of certain medications, including birth control and antidepressants.
  • Not Suitable for Sensitive Skin: Can be too harsh for those with sensitive or dry skin, leading to irritation.
  • Lack of Long-term Safety Data: There is limited research on the long-term safety and side effects of activated charcoal supplements.
  • Not Suitable for Regular Detox or Cleansing: Routine use for general detoxification is not recommended and lacks scientific justification.

Studies

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)

Mayo Clinic

First aid interventions by laypeople for acute oral poisoning

Potential benefits and risks of activated charcoal for digestive disorders