Activated carbon, also known as medicinal coal, is one of the oldest known medicines. Already early civilizations like the Greeks and Egyptians knew about their effect. And even today, there is medical activated carbon, whether pressed or capsules, in every well-stocked medicine chest. Activated carbon is used not only for gastrointestinal problems and detox cures, but is also used in cosmetic products. Find out more about the application, effects and side effects of activated charcoal here.
What is activated carbon?
Activated carbon is carbon that is highly porous. Thus it has the property of being open-pored like a sponge and of falling into the smallest parts. In this way he unfolds a large surface.
This results in the characteristic of the activated carbon characteristic for so-called adsorption. That is, the carbon particles are capable of binding other substances such as toxins, chemicals or even odor molecules on their surface.
Medicinal activated carbon is mainly obtained from vegetable raw materials such as peat, tree bark or nut shells.
Activated carbon for gastrointestinal complaints
Medical coal is especially known for its use in diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. These include, for example, gastroenteritis (gastrointestinal flu) or food poisoning.
Activated carbon can provide relief even for more harmless aches and pains that occasionally occur when traveling or after heavy meals. These include:
When diarrhea with fever activated carbon should not be taken.
How does activated carbon affect digestive problems?
The effect of activated carbon is due to the fact that it binds the triggers of the symptoms, such as bacteria or pollutants. In this way, these are initially rendered harmless and then transported through the chair from the body.
Help with poisoning
If chemicals or toxic (toxic) substances have been swallowed, the subsequent administration of activated carbon can help. The carbon particles are able to neutralize those components that are toxic. The adsorption capacity of the carbon prevents the toxins from entering the bloodstream.
It should be noted here that the coal should be taken as quickly as possible, the dosage is dependent on the body weight. Activated carbon is effective against many, but not against all poisons. For example, it does not affect poisoning with pesticides or ethanol.
Side effects of ingestion of activated carbon
The medical activated carbon acts in a purely physical way in the body. That is, it is excreted unchanged. Therefore, there are only a few side effects or side effects. Excessive ingestion may cause constipation or vomiting.
Inevitable, on the other hand, is a blackening of the stool, caused by the carbon particles. However, this is harmless.
Activated carbon not only binds harmful substances
It should be noted, however, that activated carbon does not differentiate in its effect. It binds pollutants and toxins as well as vitamins or other nutrients.
The neutralization of drugs or oral contraceptives (pill) by activated carbon is not excluded. The intake of activated carbon should therefore take place in such cases with a time interval to the drugs and only after consultation with a doctor or pharmacist.
How to take activated carbon?
Extensive drinking is the top priority when activated carbon is taken. Because only in sufficiently liquid can the carbon decompose optimally and unfold their effect.
Medical coal is available in the form of tablets, capsules or powders. Activated carbon tablets or capsules can be swallowed as well as previously dissolved in a glass of water. Powder can also be easily stirred in water.
How healthy is activated carbon?
Especially in connection with detoxification treatments, also called detox, activated carbon is used more and more frequently. When added to a smoothie or other drink, it should aid detoxification and slimming.
This type of use is based on the assumption that activated carbon would also have a positive effect on a healthy organism. Pollutants that have accumulated in the digestive tract should be transported faster from the body thanks to the carbon.
However, this effect is not scientifically proven. In addition, the activated carbon added to the juices and smoothies binds part of the vitamins and minerals contained in them. This prevents these actually healthy ingredients from being absorbed and processed by the body.
Means for more beauty?
The beauty industry is also promoting activated carbon as a miracle cure. The coal is found, for example, in skin cleansing products and shampoos. The cosmetics industry also makes use of the adsorbing property of the carbon particles. This should help to rid the skin and hair of dirt and pollutants.
However, it is always advised to look at the list of ingredients of the products in question. There should definitely find the term charcoal. Otherwise, under certain circumstances no activated carbon, but only a black dye in cosmetics is included.
Activated carbon for white teeth
Toothpaste is sometimes mixed with activated carbon. With their help, dental plaque and discoloration are removed by residues of wine, tea and coffee - so at least are the promises of suppliers of toothpaste with activated carbon.
It is not proven that the use of activated charcoal actually causes white teeth. In addition, doctors advise against brushing with activated carbon powder or paste, since it is not yet clear whether the tooth enamel is damaged by the "scrubbing".
With activated carbon against blackheads
If the purchase of beauty products is too expensive or if you prefer to touch your own cosmetics, you can easily use activated carbon to make a facial mask against impure skin in your home kitchen. The ingredients needed for a mask with activated charcoal are:
- 1 tablet of activated carbon
- 15 grams of wheat flour
- 125 milliliters of water
The ingredients are mixed to a uniform mass and then applied to the T-zone. If the mask has dried on the skin, it should peel off and rid the face of any blackheads.
Where is activated carbon available?
Medicinal activated carbon can be bought at the pharmacy. Also in drugstores and well-stocked supermarkets appropriate preparations are available.
However, it is always worth taking a look at the ingredients. There may be about the hint of traces of lactose. Patients with lactose intolerance should therefore be particularly vigilant when purchasing.
What else is activated carbon used for?
Activated carbon is also used as a filter outside of medical applications. Such activated carbon filters can be found, for example, in water filters for drinking water, in the aquarium, as cabin filters in the car, in respiratory masks or even in cigarettes. In addition, activated carbon is also used as dye E 153 in food.