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 plant 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 also provide relief for more harmless ailments that occasionally occur when traveling or after heavy meals. These include:
However, activated charcoal should not be taken if diarrhea with fever.
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 out of 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 capable of those To neutralize components that are toxic. The adsorption capacity of the carbon thus 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 against many, but not effective against all poisons. For example, it does not affect poisoning with pesticides or ethanol.
Side effects when taking activated carbon
The medical activated carbon acts in a purely physical way in the body. That is, it is excreted unchanged. Therefore exist too few side effects or accompanying symptoms. Excessive intake may cause constipation or vomiting.
Inevitably, however, is a black color of the stool, caused by the carbon particles. 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 in the form of tablets, capsules or powder available. 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 cures, too Detox Activated carbon is used more and more often. When added to a smoothie or other drink, it is designed to 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. Add to that the the Juices and smoothies Added activated carbon binds part of the vitamins and minerals contained in it. 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 in shampoos. The Cosmetic industry This 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 be the term charcoal can be found. 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 the promises of the providers of Toothpaste with activated carbon.
It is not proven that the use of activated carbon 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 cosmetics yourself, you can easily use activated carbon to make a facial mask against impure skin in your home kitchen. The ingredients needed for one Mask with activated carbon 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.
However, one should not expect too great an effect from the activated charcoal mask, because even the effectiveness of activated carbon for the skin is still lacking evidence from scientific studies.
Where is activated carbon available?
There are medical activated carbon to buy in 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 charcoal is also used as dye E 153 in food.