Sold by the ounce. Activated charcoal is used as an emergency treatment for certain types of poisoning, and available as a supplement primarily used for detoxing and other health concerns, including cholesterol, kidney disease, gas, and hangovers. To create activated charcoal, organic materials such as wood are burned at extremely high temperatures in environments lacking in oxygen. This process causes the materials to develop a large number of pores. Because of its porous quality, activated charcoal is said to help absorb toxins and clear the body of unwanted substances. Activated charcoal is also used in air filter masks to remove dust particles and toxins in the air and in water filters to remove heavy metals, such as lead. It is also sometimes added to beauty products and facial masks to clear the skin of blackheads and other impurities. Health Benefits Despite its popularity as a natural remedy, activated charcoal has not been determined to be an effective treatment for anything other than poisoning and drug overdose, typically administered in an emergency room. For other health conditions, the research is limited to animal studies and very small human trials. Investigators have studied activated charcoal for the following: Cholesterol Studies suggest activated charcoal may help to lower cholesterol levels, however, the most promising research, was done decades ago. In a small study published in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in 1989, seven people with high cholesterol were treated with activated charcoal for three weeks. During that time, the study members experienced a 29% decrease in total cholesterol and a 41% decrease LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels. In the second phase of the study, 10 additional patients with severely elevated cholesterol levels were treated with either activated charcoal, the cholesterol medicine cholestyramine, a combination of both treatments, or bran for three weeks. At the end of the study, those given charcoal, cholestyramine, or combination therapy showed reductions in total and LDL cholesterol levels plus an increase in HDL ("good") levels. The research, however, was performed on a very small group and has not been replicated in larger studies. It is too soon to recommend activated charcoal in the treatment of high cholesterol. Kidney Disease Activated charcoal may help people with renal diseases preserve kidney function by binding and trapping toxins that would otherwise be filtered in the kidneys. The supporting research is limited, however. A 2014 study on rats found activated charcoal improved creatinine clearance and reduced blood levels of urinary toxins like urea and indoxyl sulfate.
Activated Bamboo Charcoal