Everything You Need to Know About Activated Carbon

Activated carbon was originally used in industry and medicine, but now the beauty sphere started actively using it. Black tablets or powder are recommended for almost everything. According to beauty bloggers and cosmetic manufactures, activated carbon will cleanse the body, whiten teeth, and help eliminate skin imperfections. We figure out whether activated carbon and cosmetics with it are so useful, and whether it can be used for preventive detox.

How Did the Trend for Activated Carbon Appear

Activated carbon is the most famous detoxification remedy. Scientists wrote about its cleansing properties in the 18th century. The first known anecdotal use of coal occurred in 1811 when French chemist Michel Bertrand swallowed coal with 5 grams of arsenic trioxide. In 1915, activated carbon was first synthesized and used in gas masks as chemical protection by the organic chemist Nikolai Zelinsky.

Activated carbon is widely used in industry, medicine, and now also in cosmetology. It absorbs bacteria and gases, alleviating the symptoms of food poisoning and indigestion. In large doses, it is used to treat drug overdose.

In recent years, activated carbon has gone far beyond the medical industry and began to appear in a wide variety of products from skin cleansers to toothpaste. It also became a trend in food. Brands offer coal ice cream, pasta, burger rolls, pizza, donuts, lattes, and other dishes and drinks. This trend is especially popular in the USA.

Is Activated Carbon Really the Best Way to Detox the Organism

Activated carbon is made from organic materials such as bituminous coal, wood, and coconut shells. The raw materials are first carbonized and then activated at very high temperatures (1500-1600 °F). As a result, it becomes porous, which gives coal detoxification properties. The pores act like a sponge, absorbing toxins in the stomach and digestive tract.

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Activated carbon can help remove pesticides, mercury, mold, and even become an effective antidote for overdose with pharmaceuticals like aspirin, acetaminophen, and opioids.

How Activated Carbon Can Cause Damage

The cleansing properties of activated carbon are confirmed by scientific research, but the fact that the intoxication property of the carbon has been turned into a new beauty trend and marketing strategy is not very good. The activated carbon absorbs not only harmful toxins but also the nutrients needed by the body. That is why it is recommended to use activated charcoal one and a half hours before meals, supplements, and medicines, or two hours after them.

On the one hand, activated carbon is not toxic and does not harm the body, but it leads to a deficiency of important trace elements, which is bad for health. It can be a good addition to chronic infections and other disease treatments but drinking it just for prevention is not worth it. There are safer products that remove toxins that do not deprive the body of nutrients, such as cucumber water.

Effectiveness of Activated Carbon in Care Products

A study published in the British Dental Journal in 2019 found that charcoal toothpaste does not have teeth whitening properties at all. Moreover, it can corrode enamel, gums, and even lead to tooth loss.

As for the effect of activated carbon on skin cleansing, everything is not so critical. Some studies confirm the effectiveness of coal in ridding the skin of bacteria, toxins, dirt, and chemicals. It is generally considered safe, although there is not enough research on this topic for a clear conclusion. It is best to use activated charcoal products in moderation and consult a dermatologist or therapist before adding them to your home face masks and your diet.

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