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If you’re anything like me, you cringed the first time you saw a picture of someone with black sludge covering their teeth. Of course, upon further investigation, you realize the benefits outweigh the gross factor.
I’m talking about charcoal powder, and if you haven’t tried it yet, you definitely should. There are a few different varieties out there, but today, I want to talk specifically about activated bamboo charcoal. Before we dig in to its awesomeness, let’s talk about the “activated” part.
If you don’t have time to read the full article (I’m a super busy mama, I understand!), here’s my pick for the best activated bamboo charcoal.
What Is Activated Bamboo Charcoal?
When it comes to charcoal, activated simply means “active.” The charcoal is processed to have incredibly small pores that increase its surface area. This process and the resulting pores are what make activated charcoal so effective in its primary purpose. More on that in a bit.
Why Choose Bamboo Charcoal?
Even before being activated, bamboo charcoal has a 600:1 surface area-to-weight ratio. That means every 1 gram has a surface area of roughly 600 sq meters. Once processed and active, that number jumps to an impressive 1200:1. As you keep reading, you’ll find out why that sort of ratio is so great!
Besides its ultra-porous surface, bamboo is an environmentally friendly, sustainable resource. Because it’s a grass (yep, it’s actually not a tree!), it quickly regrows from its original root system, so harvesting doesn’t “wipe it out” as some naturally sourced products are infamous for.
Not to mention, activated bamboo charcoal has been used throughout Asia for centuries and is known there as the “black diamond” of healers. Here in the states, we’d probably call it the “cream of the crop.”
Benefits of Activated Bamboo Charcoal
Remember all those pores mentioned earlier? Here’s why they’re so important:
The primary benefit of activated charcoal is its ability to trap toxins and usher them out of the body. The more pores available to house these toxins, the greater the charcoal’s ability to do more with less, so to speak.
Many people mistakenly believe that activated charcoal powder absorbs toxins, but that’s not the case. Its toxin-trapping ability is all thanks to a process known as “adsorption” with a D.
With adsorption, elements (the toxins) bind to a particular surface (the charcoal). Bamboo charcoal is especially effective in this process because it has a negative electric charge, attracting positively charged toxins to itself.
It’s a fatal attraction for the toxins, but a glorious victory for you as you pursue a toxin-free life!
Here are a few of its incredible benefits in more detail:
1. Detoxes the Body (Liver, Kidney, and Digestive)
Activated bamboo charcoal can be used to detoxify your digestive system. What makes it so effective is that it acts as a binding agent, adhering to harmful toxins in your intestines, making it easier for your body to excrete them.
It can also aid in cleansing your kidneys from harmful chemicals caused by medicines that you take orally.
Your kidneys are one of the busiest organs inside your body. Its vital function is to regulate your overall fluid balance. Like the liver, it works overtime, so it’s important that you keep it healthy.
Activated carbon charcoal helps lower the toxic burden on your kidneys, by capturing toxins and escorting them out – so the kidneys aren’t having to do all the filtering work themselves.
2. Relieves Gas and Bloating
Activated charcoal can also help ease discomfort due to gas and bloating. Because of its tiny pores, the gas in your intestines bind to the surface of the charcoal, making sure that your body doesn’t absorb it.
As the charcoal moves through your system, it “picks up” and “locks in” the gas and escorts it out the body when you go to the bathroom.
3. Alleviates Diarrhea
In some cases, modern medicine poses a threat to our overall health because of the side effects that come along with them. Of course, we know they are necessary at times.
But that still leaves us with the nasty side effects to deal with.
In an effort to treat patients without adverse reactions, some natural-minded doctors recommend activated charcoal to treat flatulence and nervous diarrhea as opposed to prescription or OTC options.
Charcoal’s large surface area makes it very efficient in clearing out gas and bacterial infections inside the intestines.
4. Detoxes Mold
Activated charcoal can also be your weapon in detoxifying molds from your body. We’re all exposed to mold every day, whether we realize it or not.
These molds then tend to linger in our body, and if not prevented, may cause illness.
Activated bamboo charcoal binds and traps these molds so that your body can no longer absorb them. The body then excretes these molds in the form of sweat, urine, or feces.
5. Purifies Water
Activated charcoal is widely used to filter harmful substances from our water supply. Because of its binding capability, the charcoal gets rid of hazardous chemicals such as chlorine, metallic substances, pesticides, and other toxins, making the purification process easier.
Since a large percentage of your body is made up of water, it’s important to make sure every drop is pure.
Is It Safe?
Yes, activated charcoal is actually used by hospitals worldwide as an effective treatment for drug overdoses and poison cases. It’s even been used during pregnancy to remedy issues with bile flow as well as to treat gas and bloating.
A word of caution here though:
Activated bamboo charcoal is not the same stuff you’d throw on your grill.
(Side note: Barbecue coal is actually quite toxic. Sorry…I know the draw of a chargrilled burger is hard to pass, but it’s really best to just say no. #thestruggleisreal)
The type of activated charcoal we’re discussing is medical and food grade with no chemicals whatsoever.
Also, whenever you use activated charcoal, you need to drink a ton of water – about 12-16 glasses per day. The reason for this is two-fold:
1 – Activated charcoal can lead to dehydration.
2 – Drinking lots of water flushes the toxins out faster (plus prevent constipation – double win).
Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff!
Using Activated Charcoal for Clearer, Healthier Skin
Before the rise of modern medicine, people used activated charcoal to treat pain and other discomforts. However, aside from taking it orally, you can also use activated charcoal for improving your skin, too.
Your skin is the largest organ in your body. Every single day, you are exposed to harmful elements around you.
For instance, your skin is directly exposed to UV rays and the harsh effects of air pollution.
Just like how it works in detoxifying your kidneys, liver and intestines, activated charcoal is capable of binding toxins and removing impurities from your skin.
Knowing this, several skin care brands have already infused activated charcoal into their products. If you’re like me and struggle with occasional breakouts due to hormones or air pollution, you might want to try a charcoal mask or washing with a bar of charcoal soap!
Here’s how charcoal benefits your skin:
Your skin has millions of pores that produce natural oils. Imbalanced hormones in teens or premenstrual women cause overproduction of these oils, which then leads to clogged pores, pimples, and blackheads.
Activated charcoal binds to the gunk on the surface of your skin just like it does to the toxins within.
Luckily, you can take care of those pesky bumps by formulating your own face mask. Just simply mix aloe vera and activated charcoal, apply it to the part of your face that needs treatment.
After a few minutes, gently remove the mask. You will notice the blackheads, excess oil, and other impurities are no longer on your face but stuck to the mask!
Creative Ways to Use Activated Bamboo Charcoal
When it comes to versatility, activated charcoal is at the top of my detox must-haves, but it’s also nice to keep on hand for beauty and even wound-treatment applications
Here are just 3 of its most popular uses.
1. Whiten Teeth
If you’re a fan of coffee, tea or wine, chances are your pearly whites aren’t quite as pearly as they use to be.
Fortunately, activated charcoal can help with that while supporting overall oral health in the process.
To whiten teeth, just wet your toothbrush and dip it into powdered activated charcoal, then brush as usual!
The only difference is you’ll have to rinse a little more than you normally would. Keep rinsing until the water comes out clear.
Some people notice a change after 1 application, but give yourself about 2 weeks to see a difference, and I think you’ll be blow away with the results!
2. Cleanse Pores
Have you tried a bamboo charcoal face mask yet? It makes you feel a little zombie-like in the process but the results are pretty incredible.
The same way it draws out toxins from the body and mouth is the same way it works on skin. When you apply activated charcoal to your face, it cleans pores, reduces black heads and soaks up extra oil.
You can make your own charcoal face mask at home with activated charcoal powder and aloe vera. Just mix the the 2 ingredients together, apply & let it sit for about 30 minutes then wash off!
3. Deodorize Naturally (Remove Odors from Rooms, Shoes, and More)
Ever had to deal with annoying smells that never go away even after a top-to-bottom deep clean? Your carpet, inside your car, or your kids’ stinky shoes? #momlife
Well, activated charcoal can help…and your nose will be oh-so-grateful!
Let’s look at a few specific examples:
It works great to combat odor in the fridge…
Tell me I’m not the only one who forgets leftovers until they’re riiipe, if ya know what I mean?
To deodorize it, just put a bowl of activated charcoal inside the fridge to remove the unwanted smell. It will hold its odor-absorbing power for a few weeks!
Activated charcoal is also great for small enclosed areas such as your car, cabinets, and shoes.
Charcoal even acts as a natural dehumidifier, too! One great thing about this substance is that it doesn’t release or spread toxins into the air – unlike some conventional air filters.
Where to Buy Bamboo Charcoal Powder
You can pick up a bag of activated bamboo charcoal at your local health food store or order it online.
As you shop for charcoal powder or products, keep in mind that many manufacturers (especially those selling charcoal toothpaste or teeth whiteners) add artificial sweeteners to make them more palatable. Read labels carefully to avoid these and other harmful ingredients.
As mentioned, powdered bamboo charcoal is a great option, but charcoal derived from coconut shells is effective as well.
Or you can make your own bamboo charcoal at home (it’s easy!).
What’s the Best Activated Bamboo Charcoal?
You can certainly do your own market research to find the best option for you, but here are 2 brands that are 100% pure with no fillers or additives:
This powder mixes easily with water, whereas other brands can be a little clumpy. It’s also food-grade and safe for internal use.
I like that this one is organic and food-grade as well. It’s sourced from Thailand, and I prefer to buy US, but that’s really just a personal choice.
Hope that helps!
Side note: If you’re looking for a complete nutritional detox program that’s laid out for you step-by-step, I have some information I want to share with you. Read more here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does bamboo charcoal do?
Bamboo charcoal has many great benefits. It can help detox and cleanse important organs such as your kidneys, liver, and intestines. Works great on the skin too! It also acts as a purifier for both water and air.
Does bamboo charcoal really work?
There’s no definitive clinical studies that prove bamboo charcoal can treat certain illnesses, but it has been proven to be effective in binding to toxins and escorting them safely out of the body.
In fact, it’s what emergency departments use in some cases of poisoning or drug overdose!
And activated bamboo charcoal is 4-5 times more absorbent than regular wooden charcoal, so it works far better than non-activated varieties.
What does it mean for charcoal to be activated?
To activate charcoal means to elevate its porosity by applying a great amount of pressure and heat to it. The increased porosity of the charcoal enables it to bind and trap harmful toxins from your body and environment.
Does activated charcoal interfere with medication?
It’s recommended to take activated charcoal a few hours before or after medication to make sure it doesn’t interfere with its effect. This is because activated charcoal doesn’t just bind and flush out unwanted toxins, but it also attracts nutrients and medications as well.
What is the difference between activated charcoal and regular charcoal?
Regular charcoal doesn’t have the binding capacity of activated charcoal. Regular charcoal may even contain harmful chemicals that can be hazardous to the human body, which is the total opposite of what activated charcoal does.
It’s easy to know which one to choose when you know their differences. If you need one for filtering water, choose activated carbon for cleaning the water more effectively. If you need one for cooking, semi-unpleasant odor removal, or for art, choose the regular charcoal.
Does activated charcoal help with bloating?
Studies have suggested that activated charcoal can help alleviate discomfort caused by bloating. It has the ability to bind, trap, and deal with gas inside the stomach. For centuries, it’s been used as a popular home remedy for bloating and gas pain.
Can you take charcoal on an empty stomach?
Yes! Remember that activated charcoal doesn’t only bind with unwanted toxins but also with vitamins, proteins, and useful minerals. That’s why taking activated charcoal on an empty stomach isn’t a problem. In fact, it’s even recommended!