|Black Burger featured in Time magazine, more on this later
If you’re thinking there’s always something “new” in nutrition we’re supposed to take or use, it can certainly seem that way. I roll my eyes at
some most things that come our way. I am reassured though when what’s old is new or there’s a long history behind an ingredient. Enter charcoal.
I was excited when CBS suggested this segment because charcoal had just come into my life. you see, I’ve been brushing my teeth with a charcoal powder. We’re also seeing charcoal pop up at juice shops with “dark detox shots” and charcoal lemonade.
So you know, I’m not suggesting you eat your BBQ charcoal. Activated charcoal is made when charcoal (from wood or even coconut shells) is heated with a gas to expand its surface area. It is this surface area (1tsp has 10,000 feet surface area) that’s responsible for its “detox” action. Activated charcoal was used in ancient Egypt and by Hippocrates in Greece. The appeal of activated charcoal is that it’s like a sponge for chemicals and poisons; they adhere to it. ERs use charcoal because it creates a “prison” for drugs such as cocaine. The debate, if there is one, is whether activated charcoal should be used for less severe situations or every day use
Activated charcoal comes in powder or capsules. I love this one made from coconut shells for capsules and also this tooth powder. Charcoal doesn’t discriminate will adsorb meds (such as anti depressants) and vitamins too if you take it within an hour of taking them
Why would you use activated charcoal if you don’t have to cocaine in your system? First, as I mentioned you can brush your teeth with it. I would advise you to use a little and know that it’s messy.
Charcoal can also “adsorb” (adsorb means bind) intestinal gas. A study found that activated charcoal reduces the amount of gas produced by eating beans and other gas-forming foods. If you’re feeling especially gassy try two charcoal tablets three times a day can help absorb the offending gases and help give your stomach a flatter appearance.
Water filtration and air filtration
Carolyn gave me this cool water filter as a holiday gift last year (yes we joked I got coal in my stocking hmn).The charcoal is from tree branches. It absorbs impurities such as chlorine and other water impurities In exchange, the charcoal sends its nutrients (calcium, iron and magnesium) back into the water And It also neutralizes the water’s pH levels. Our office Ovopur filter (may look familiar to some of you) is also charcoal-based.
Charcoal is great to travel with. It relieves symptoms of nervous diarrhea or traveler’s diarrhea 1 tablespoon of powdered activated charcoal up to 2-3 times a day between meals. Swirl the charcoal in a glass of water and then drink it down; or mix it with olive oil and spoon it into your mouth.
I’m often asked what helps with hangovers. If you feel you’re likely to have one, try popping a couple of charcoal caps before bed. For any of these remedies I wouldn’t take charcoal too often or it can constipate you (and make your poop black). In terms of “yay or step away” or #YOSA I’d say yay but not every day.
And yes, the black burger pictured above is made with cheese infused with bamboo charcoal; I’d “stay away”.
Do you use charcoal? Do you take it internally or use it topically? Have you been hearing about it lately?