During a recent road trip, I stopped to treat myself to a latte. Dairy is not my friend, so I’m always careful to substitute coconut, hemp, or almond milk. I got back on the road and was enjoying that latte, right up until I was suddenly and most definitely not feeling well. Dang. I got “dairy-ed.”
Fortunately, I had a bottle of activated charcoal capsules in the car (What? Doesn’t everyone keep activated charcoal in their car??). I took four capsules and drank a ton of water. And within 20-30 minutes I felt much better and never got a headache, which is a typical symptom if I get into too much dairy.
What is this magic that is activated charcoal, you ask? Well, you likely already know that charcoal powder is used in water filters and air purifiers. It’s highly adsorptive, which means that it attracts most organic toxins, chemicals, and poisons to itself, enabling the body to eliminate them safely and quickly. Emergency Rooms often use large doses of activated charcoal as an antidote for certain types of poisoning.
Activated charcoal works great for accidental exposures to food intolerances because it binds the proteins your body has trouble breaking down. Of course, you have to use common sense too, so if you have a more severe allergy it may not be best to self-treat. But for minor accidental exposures, activated charcoal can really help. In cases of food poisoning, it can get you through the worst of it much more quickly. It’s also great for hangovers, since people often react more to the toxic chemicals in their mixers than the alcohol itself. You’ll want to hydrate well when taking activated charcoal, because it can be dehydrating.
Charcoal is great for other stuff, too. Try brushing with it every now and then to naturally whiten teeth. You can make a paste with it and apply to bug bites or other skin irritations that benefit from the drawing out of toxins. Activated charcoal soaps, face masks, and spot treatments are becoming very popular, and you can easily and inexpensively make your own customized beauty recipes at home.
Just be careful when taking activated charcoal internally because it will bind to things indiscriminately. Any supplements or medications should be taken two hours away. Opt for activated charcoal sourced from coconut shells.
Now don’t think you can use activated charcoal to counteract poor choices. If you have a gluten intolerance, don’t use activated charcoal to continue eating gluten every day. Activated charcoal is thought to adsorb about 60% of what you’ve ingested. Not 100%. Plus, taking activated charcoal long-term likely has some negative consequences as it may impair nutrition absorption. But for the occasional “oops” activated charcoal can be a fantastic addition to your natural medicine cabinet. Keep it on hand and give it a try.