Activated charcoal is a wonderful remedy for a wide spectrum of health issues. Activated charcoal is used as a home treatment for digestive problems, infections, insect bites, and pain. It is even useful as a natural deodorant! And that is just the beginning of the usefulness of this simple remedy.

One of the most beautiful features of this jet black substance is that it can be made anywhere on the planet. Activated charcoal is an accessible remedy to the poorest person that can make a fire yet at the same time may save the life of the richest person on earth.

What is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is a medical grade of carbon. Carbon is a very basic element which is contained in all living things. When you burn wood slowly with a minimum of oxygen, everything burns off, except for the carbon. (Fires with high availability of oxygen will result in more residual ash and less carbon.) Charcoal that is then crushed into small particles and purified to remove the majority of any remaining ash is what we call activated charcoal. This is what is sold for medical use.

How Does Activated Charcoal Work?

Charcoal has the amazing ability to adsorb. Note that it is really not absorb. A sponge absorbs. Charcoal adsorbs. Adsorb is similar to the word adjoin; both have the Latin prefix “ad.” So the mechanism that charcoal uses to remove toxins, bacteria etc. is that it attracts these things electrostatically, safely removing them from the body.

What Does Charcoal Adsorb?

Charcoal adsorbs thousands of substances. Here is a very partial list:

• Acetaminophen

• Arsenic

• Aspirin

• Carbon Dioxide

• Chlorine

• Gasoline

• Hemlock

• Iodine

• Ipecac

• Kerosene

• Mercury

• Methylene Blue

• Morphine

• Narcotics

• Nicotine

• Opium

• Penicillin

• Pesticides

• Selenium

• Silver

What Is Not Adsorbed by Charcoal?

• Cyanide

• Iron

• Lithium

• Mineral Acids

• Caustic Alkalis

• Alcohol

• Boric Acid

Internal Use of Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is used internally to treat many conditions including the following:

• Diarrhoea


• Stomach Flu

• Infections

• Detox

• Herx effect

• Poisoning

• Body Odour

How Much Activated Charcoal Should I Have?

For poisonings, the Mayo Clinic recommends the following for a single dose:

• Adults and teenagers: 25-100 grams

• Children 1 – 12 years old: 25-50 grams

• Children under 1 year: 10-25 grams

The charcoal is mixed in water. 1 Tablespoon of activated charcoal is approximately 10 grams. (14 capsules is approximately 10 grams.)

These amounts may seem quite large, but they are the recommendations for poisonings. Always be in contact with your doctor, emergency room or poison control centre in the event of a poisoning.

For most health concerns, much less charcoal is generally useful. For many health issues even as little as ¼ -1 teaspoon (one teaspoon being about 5 capsules) of activated charcoal will be helpful. Once you have used charcoal some you will begin to get a feel for how much is helpful to you.

External Use of Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is also a wonderful gentle remedy for external use. The charcoal is made into a poultice and held onto the area in need with an ace bandage or cohesive tape to draw out poison and toxins, reduce swelling and relieve pain.

Some conditions that have benefited from topical poultices include:

• Insect bites

• Bee stings

• Gas

• Food poisoning

• Gall bladder pain

• Ovarian cysts

• Kidney pain

• Wounds

• Pancreatitis

• Haemorrhoids

• Tooth abscess

• Canker sores

Activated Charcoal Tincture

Activated charcoal can be made into a tincture for certain applications.

• Simply mix 1 teaspoon of activated charcoal into a quarter cup of pure water.

• Shake this up and then strain through a coffee filter.

• Store this solution in a glass jar – a small jar with a dropper lid is ideal.

The resulting liquid will have retained particles from the charcoal. This tincture can be used for the following:

• Pinkeye

• Pterygium

• Ear infections

The tincture can also be used as a gargle for sore throats, mouth infections and bad breath.

Activated Charcoal for Pets and Livestock

Animals can benefit from activated charcoal as well. It is useful for wounds, stings and poisonings in dogs and cats. Farm animals with diarrhoea and other health problems can use charcoal internally just like people.

Activated Charcoal Cautions

Activated charcoal should not be used within 2 hours of medication or supplements because it can adsorb medications, rendering them ineffective. The exception may be if it is being used to treat poisoning. At that point, weighing the risk of not treating the poisoning must be weighed against the risk of deactivating medication.

Activated charcoal could cause constipation or bowel blockage if large amounts are used and not enough water is taken with it. For this reason, always take charcoal with plenty of water.

The more finely ground activated charcoal powder is quite lightweight and can “poof” into the air when you are using it. Aspiration could be a risk, so handle it carefully to avoid excessive “poofing.”