If the word ‘charcoal’ immediately takes you back to the remnants of the snags at your last family BBQ then listen up, coz you’re about to see the black sooty stuff in everything from your ice cream to your morning latte.
Activated charcoal – which is typically created through heating carbon-rich materials like wood, coal and coconut shells at high temperatures – is the newest wonder drug to hit the wellness world. Unlike the regular kind, it’s super porous, which means it binds to any chemicals in the gut and prevents them from being absorbed by the body (a huge help if you get food poisoning, suffer toxic overload or take too many over-the-counter remedies by mistake.)
But this isn’t the only reason every celeb and his dog are jumping on the bandwagon. We’ve rounded up 5 of the best ways activated charcoal can benefit your health:
1. Promotes Oral Health
Too much tea and coffee taking its toll? Activated charcoal can help whiten the teeth by absorbing plaque and microscopic particles that cause staining. It can also change the PH balance in the mouth, which helps prevent cavities, bad breath and gum disease.
2. Reduces High-Cholesterol
Activated charcoal can reduce the level of bad cholesterol in the body at the same time as increasing the good cholesterol. In one study, participants took three doses of eight grams daily. After just four weeks, their total cholesterol decreased by 25 per cent and LDL cholesterol decreased by 41 per cent, while their HDL increased by 8 per cent.
3. Alleviates Gas
Wanna beat the bloat? Activated charcoal binds to gas-causing byproducts in certain foods that can cause discomfort. Hint: take 500 milligrams with a glass of water one hour before eating.
4. Prevents Hangovers
Research suggests that it can significantly reduce our blood alcohol concentration and possibly even banish a hangover. A friendly caveat: this isn’t an excuse to drink to excess. Consider it as more of an emergency thing next time you accidentally overdo it at happy hour.
5. Helps Delay Ageing
Activated charcoal stops many of the changes in our body's cells that are linked to ageing. When applied topically to the skin, it strips away toxins, prevents wrinkles and soothes blemishes. Internally, it can help prevent cellular damage to the kidneys and the liver, as well as support the healthy functioning of the adrenal glands.