Activated Charcoal: A Strange Way to Detox
By: Dave Asprey
In the quest to be bulletproof, there are no limits to the techniques and technologies worth considering. From cutting edge things like neurofeedback brain trainers to ancient traditional practices like drinking yak butter tea, biohacking is all about taking control of your body and mind to reach a state of high performance, resilience, and vibrant health. Activated charcoal is an important part of that process.
No matter who you are or what your goals are, eliminating toxins that sap your health is one of the first steps to help your brain function the way you want it to, or even make your body look as good as you imagine it should. That’s why Bulletproof detox recommendations are to limit toxin exposure in the first place and supercharge your ability to get rid of them with high tech things like Glutathione Force.
However, that doesn’t mean we should ignore the world’s oldest and trusted detoxifying remedy: activated charcoal.
For over 10,000 years, healers from Chinese Medicine, Ayuredic Medicine, and Western Medicine have used activated charcoal to soak up poisons and improve intestinal health through a process called “adsorption” which means “to bind to” rather than “to absorb.”
Today, beyond use in hospitals as an antidote for drugs and poisons, activated charcoal is a global remedy for general detoxification, digestion issues, gas, bloating, heart health, and anti-aging. It is a part of my mold toxin detox protocols. In fact, unscrupulous industrial cattle mills intentionally alter spoiled feed with activated charcoal, knowing it will allow them to increase profits without killing the animals.(1)
Biohackers know the world we live in has more man-made toxins than it used to, and food from industrial restaurants is of questionable quality. Both of these factors can trigger food cravings and lower performance, which is why my family and I take activated charcoal whenever we eat at restaurants. The difference is dramatic. It often prevents you from feeling bloated and tired after eating a big restaurant meal. When I feel unusually moody or suddenly tired, activated charcoal helps me get back in the game within minutes.
When my young kids suddenly drop into uncharacteristic fits of whining or tantrums, especially after snacks at a friends house, activated charcoal brings them back to normal within about 10 minutes. It is amazing to watch.
This article is to help you understand the researched uses of activated charcoal, how it works, and how you can use it to detox your body and feel noticeably better quickly.
What is Activated Charcoal?
You make activated charcoal by burning a source of carbon such as wood, debris, or better yet, coconut shells. The high temperature removes all the oxygen and activates it with gases like steam. What is produced is a highly adsorbent material with millions of tiny pores that capture, bind, and remove poisons, heavy metals, chemicals, and intestinal gases which have thousands of times more weight than the charcoal itself.
Just two grams of activated charcoal powder (4 capsules of Upgraded Coconut Charcoal) has about the same surface area as a football field. The porous surface has a negative electric charge that attracts positively charged unwanted toxins and gas.
How Activated Charcoal Works & What It’s Used For
Low grade charcoal is commonly used in air and water filters to capture unwanted materials; it’s that dust you see in some filter water pitchers. Toxicology studies show activated charcoal to be harmless to human health.(2)
Ancient physicians used inactivated charcoal for a variety of medical purposes, including treating epilepsy and anthrax. In the early 20th century, the charcoal activation process development sparked many medical journals to publish research revealing activated charcoal as an antidote for poisons and a way to improve intestinal disorders.(3) Current research not only legitimizes these earlier practices of activated charcoal, but also adds to beneficial new ways of using it.
- General detoxification – Toxins from low quality, processed food, and environmental pollution are real problems. It is important to help your body eliminate them to promote a healthy digestive system and brain. Chronic exposure to toxins produces cellular damage, allergic reactions, compromised immunity, and more rapid aging. Regular use of activated charcoal can remove unwanted toxins from your body, leaving you feeling renewed and more vibrant, often in minutes! Gut toxins quickly become brain toxins if you don’t eliminate them. Whether or not you are feeling under the weather, activated charcoal helps unwanted bacteria move through your system faster before they spread and multiply, helping you feel better faster.(4)
- Relieve digestive issues, gas, and bloating – After digesting foods like beans, the decomposition process from bacteria in your body creates byproducts like gas or diarrhea. Activated charcoal enters the digestive tract and counteracts this process by binding to byproducts and alleviating these digestive issues.
- Antidote for drugs, chemicals, and poisons – Charcoal is an age-old remedy for counteracting poison in the body. If you ingest poisons such as bleach, fertilizer, or even alcohol, taking a single large dose of activated charcoal helps your body flush out the poison faster. Activated charcoal adsorbs most organic chemicals, many inorganic chemicals, drugs, pesticides, mercury, and even lead, before they harm your body.(6,7) If you’re poisoned, go to the emergency room! But, there’s no reason you shouldn’t start binding a poison right away. A Bulletproof reader recently inadvertently took a huge dose of Tylenol (the capsules were in the wrong bottle), which is highly toxic to the liver. He realized his mistake, took a handful of activated charcoal capsules, and went to the emergency room. His liver was undamaged, and he credits biohacking.
- Rid bad breath, body odor, and skin ailments – Activated charcoal is often used in body detox products and skin products that help relieve insect stings, mushroom poisoning, poison ivy, cholera, bites, and inflammation. Body odor and bad breath is usually a result of toxins leaving the body, which is why taking activated charcoal greatly helps rid bad breath and body odor.
- Anti-Aging properties – Studies show activated charcoal prevents many cellular changes associated with aging, adrenal gland, and kidney function. Famous Gerontologists discovered its powerful anti-aging properties in a study showing activated charcoal to increase the average lifespan of older test animals by approximately 34 percent.(8) Activated charcoal slows the rate at which the brain becomes increasingly sensitive to toxins as you age, which makes for better cognitive functioning. It also builds a better defense mechanism by improving the adaptive functioning of essential organs like the liver, kidneys, and adrenals.(9)
- Better heart health – In a recent study, patients with high cholesterol who took activated charcoal three times a day showed a 25% reduction in total cholesterol. They also doubled their HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio. Studies examining microscopic tissues show a daily dose of activated charcoal may prevent abnormal hardening (sclerosis) in heart and coronary blood vessels. 
How to Use Activated Charcoal to Detox Your Body and Feel Noticeably Better
Because activated coconut charcoal is mainly used to remove toxins from the body, it is great to use for the following purposes:
- Take it when you eat out at restaurants or eat low quality foods like processed junk foods
- Take it with bad coffee – it won’t fix the problem, but it helps
- It is particularly helpful to take when drinking alcohol
- Take it if you suddenly feel moody or tired
- Opening a capsule on your toothbrush does amazing things for stained teeth
- Use during pregnancy to bind toxins
- Helpful for jet lag
Taking activated coconut charcoal on a daily basis is a great way to help you thrive in an overly toxin-filled environment. It is best to take it between meals and a few hours after using any vitamin or mineral supplements, as it may interfere with the absorption of these into your body. Be sure to take it away from prescription, which won’t enter your body when they bind to charcoal.
Where to Find High Quality and Pure Activated Coconut Charcoal
Because common charcoal tablets come in ineffectively small doses or inconvenient, messy powders, and are typically made from cheap, low quality (often unidentified) materials, it was essential to upgrade the options and create our own!
The brand new and carefully produced Upgraded Coconut Charcoal is ultra fine and highly purified. We use acid washing, a more expensive extra step, to remove toxic heavy metals that are a problem in many preparations of most charcoal. The ultra fine charcoal grains make it absorb more and work better. It is so fine that it required a new process to pack its ultra fine grains into capsules without damaging the manufacturing machines. This added step results in charcoal increased surface area to create maximum adsorption.
Activated charcoal is the world’s oldest detoxifying remedy and now it’s available as a powerful and convenient supplement to help eliminate the toxins in your food and environment that make you fat, weak, and foggy headed.
Try it even once and you’ll feel a difference!
Be Careful! Things to Keep in Mind…
Everyone responds differently to different doses, so to avoid potential undesirable effects, such as constipation, please consult your doctor and use only as suggested:
Take two or more capsules when consuming food of unknown quality or alcohol.
Never take activated charcoal with prescription medications! Excessive charcoal consumption, especially without magnesium, can result in constipation.
When charcoal forms, it concentrates toxic heavy metals, which you don’t want to put into your body. There are also issues with the source of the charcoal – is it from wood, unidentified, or (the best) coconut shells. The finer the grains, the better it works, but fine grains don’t go into supplement capsules very well, so lots of brands use coarse grains.
Final warning, if you use activated charcoal, it will stain your poop black. This is great because it tells you how long food takes to go through your bowel (called transit time), but it can be surprising. Our kid’s preschool called once, concerned over dark stools. I had to explain the difference between bloody stools (which are black) and charcoal.
Want more info about how to detox your body so you can perform your best? Check out these 8 detox methods that really work.
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- Activated Carbon for Livestock
- D.O. Cooney, Activated Charcoal Antidotal and other Medical Uses. Marcel Dekker, New York and Basel, 1983.
- J. Mattson and H. J. Mark, Activated Carbon. Marcel Dekker, New York and Basel, 1971.
- J. A. Riese and F. Damrac, “Use of activated charcoal in gastroenterology: value for flatulence and nervous diarrhea.” J. Am. Ger. Soc. 12: 500, 1964.
- K. Kulig, et al., “Management of acutely poisoned patients without gastric emptying.” Ann. Emerg. Med. 114:562-67, 1985.
- G. Park, et al., “Expanded role of charcoal in the poisoned and overdosed patient.” Arch. Int. Med. 146: 969-73, 1986.
- V. Frolkis, et al., “Enterosorption in prolonging old animal life.” Exp. Gerontol. 19; 217-25, 1984.
- E.P. Krenzelok and M. B. Heller, “In vivo comparative effectiveness of five commercial activated charcoal products.” Vet. Hum. Toxicol, 28; 498, 1986.
- Reduction of Human Organchalide Burdens, Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education, Los Angeles, California, 1983.
- P. Kuusisto, et al., “Effect of activated charcoal on hypercholesterolemia.” Lancet 16: 366-67, August 1986.