For those of you who were naughty this year and received lumps of coal in your Christmas stockings instead of candy canes, I say you are actually in luck! Who needs refined sugar laden sticks that will rot your teeth and send you into a lethargic intoxicated holiday spin when charcoal can do the opposite? Surprised? Me too. Read on.

Here's to being naughty again next year ;)

What is it?

Ok, first off I should probably specify - don't go rummaging around in the depths of your steam train for smouldering black charcoal lumps, the superfood we speak of is actually 'activated'.

Activated charcoal can be made by burning (at very high temperatures) a source of carbon such as wood, debris or better yet, coconut shells. The result of which is a carbon charcoal skeleton that has been stripped of all impurities and volatile compounds. A material that is filled with millions of tiny pores and thus is highly aDsorbant. It has been used for over 10,000 years in Chinese, Ayurvedic and Western Medicine.

Why is it good for you?

Activated charcoals ability to soak up chemicals, toxins and poisons in the body and to improve intestinal health occurs through the process of “adsorption” which means “to bind to” rather than “to absorb.”

On an extreme scale, such as in insect or snake bites, you can now understand why emergency rooms keep charcoal on hand.

A story to tell the tale: In 1831 Professor Touery of the French Academy of Medicine drank a lethal dose of strychnine (in front of his distinguished colleagues no less) and lived to tell the tale. He lived because he combined the deadly poison with activated charcoal. 

On a daily basis charcoal can be used as a general detoxifier. Taken orally it will effectively bind to toxins in the gastrointestinal tract and moves them to be excreted, in turn assisting in the reduction of gas and bloating.

How do we use it?

Activated charcoal itself is a fine, black powder that is odorless and tasteless. It can be purchased in powdered form or in capsules. Add the powder to a smoothie or even your morning coffee. I'm yet to try baking with it, comment below if you have done so with success please!

Capsules or tablets are a great option for when you are on the run over the holiday season. Keep them in mind for when you are feeling hungover, moody, tired or jet lagged. 

Charcoal can also be used to whiten teeth naturally. In the same way it pulls toxins from the body, it also can pull stains out of teeth (primarily made from the tannins of red wine, berries and coffee). A moments mess over the bathroom sink for a dazzling smile (be careful, it does stain). Simply dip your clean wet toothbrush in some powdered charcoal and brush away. 2 minutes minimum I'd say. You'll look like the coal driver of our aforementioned steam train so be warned! :)

Where to purchase it?

Your local health food store will stock it, otherwise take a gander online. 

Who has experience using charcoal for detoxification and what do you think?

December 30, 2014 — Amy Crawford

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