Where to buy activated charcoal in the UK and its benefits
Activated charcoal is often used as an emergency treatment to neutralize drug poisoning and other toxins. It reduces the absorption of poisonous substances from the stomach. Moreover, drugs and other harmful chemicals bind to activated charcoal and safely removed from the body.
In addition to detoxification, activated charcoal is used as a natural remedy to cure the hangover, treat hyperlipidemia and teeth whitening. This article highlights the benefits of activated charcoal, its mechanism of action, and where to buy activated charcoal in the UK.
What is Activated Charcoal?
Activated carbon, aka activated charcoal, is a fine, odourless black powder processed at a very high temperature, reducing its pore size and increasing the surface area. More fine powder means more surface area for absorption. Charcoal is made from
- coconut shells,
- bone char,
- petroleum coke,
- olive pits,
Activated charcoal is different from charcoal briquettes which are used to light the fire and to make barbecue. Charcoal briquettes are not processed at a very high temperature, do not contain fine pores, and include toxic materials harmful to the human body. On the other hand, activated charcoal is more porous, and the pore size is very small. As a result, it works like a sponge that absorbs toxins and other chemicals coming in its contact.
Activated Charcoal’s Mechanism of Action
Activated charcoal is used to prevent the absorption of toxic substances from the stomach and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Only those chemicals can bind with activated charcoal, which is in the liquid form or comes in direct contact. Since activated charcoal does not absorb in the gut lumen, it is expelled from the body in the faeces along with bound toxins.
Research indicates activated charcoal’s surface can be charged positive or negative depending upon the pH. Hence different materials can be absorbed in different parts of the gut; the stomach has acidic pH, and the intestine has basic pH.
However, activated charcoal is only effective if taken within a few minutes of ingesting the harmful or poisonous chemical. If the significant amount has already been absorbed in the systemic circulation, there is nothing that activated charcoal can do.
A study published in 2016 reported that taking activated charcoal within 5 minutes of drug ingestion reduced the absorption to 74% on average. However, the reduction in the drug absorption was only 16.5% if the activated charcoal was taken after 2 hours of drug ingestion. Hence, the sooner the activated charcoal is taken, the better the detoxification will be.
Health benefits and uses of activated charcoal :
- Neutralizes Acute Poisoning
When used with other medications, active charcoal is a powerful remedy to manage drug overdose or neutralize acute poisoning. However, activated charcoal is not effective against certain chemical poisoning such as;
- Iron tablets
- Strong bases
- Strong acids
Treats Flatulence or Gas
Activated charcoal reduces the accumulation of intestinal gas or flatulence. Activated charcoal is available in capsule form containing fine powder packed in vegetable cellulose. Taking these capsules after gas-producing meals prevent gas production and improve the odour of gas.
- Cures Hangover
Activated charcoal is used as a natural remedy for a hangover. Taking it while consuming alcohol may decrease alcohol absorption and its level in the blood; hence, it prevents a hangover.
- Acne Treatment and Skin Cleansing
Applying an activated charcoal mask on the skin helps in acne. Moreover, it is also effective against insect and snakebite if applied to the affected area immediately after getting a bite.
- Teeth whitening
Activated charcoal is thought to absorb plaque and other teeth-staining compounds. Using it while brushing teeth remove plaque and make them white.
- Reduces Blood Cholesterol Level
Activated charcoal binds cholesterol and bile salts that help in cholesterol absorption. Research suggested that activated charcoal helps in hypercholesterolemia by reducing the total cholesterol level in the blood. Moreover, it reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol and increases the absorption of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol.
- Reduces the symptoms of fish odour syndrome
Trimethylaminuria (TMAU) is a condition associated with a urine smell similar to rotting fish. Trimethylamine (TMA), in healthy individuals, is converted to a less smelly substance. However, patients suffering from fish odour syndrome lack the enzyme that does this conversion. Hence TMA accumulates in urine, sweat and breath and gives them a foul fishy smell. Activated charcoal binds TMA to its porous surface and reduces the odour produced by free TMA.
- Aids Kidney in Waste Removal
The kidney filters many harmful chemicals from the blood and flushes them out of the body through urine. Activated charcoal reduces the burden on the kidney by absorbing many chemicals and reducing the wastes that the kidney has to filter. Patients suffering from chronic kidney conditions can get harmful chemicals removed from the body by using activated charcoal. However, studies show that active charcoal can bind urea and other toxic wastes.
Other beneficial effects include:
Activated charcoal is a popular option to remove fluoride and heavy metals from drinking water. However, hard water minerals, viruses and bacteria are not effectively treated by activated charcoal.
Where to Buy Activated Charcoal in the UK?
You can get activated charcoal from a local pharmacy in capsule form or a face mask. To get activated charcoal online, click here.
Activated charcoal is generally safe to use. However, there are some unpleasant side effects such as nausea, vomiting, constipation and black stool. To have maximum benefits and avoid the adverse impact, follow the dosage instruction by the pharmacists.