Activated Charcoal: The ‘It’ Ingredient Makes a Comeback

Posted on August 5, 2016
woman getting a charcoal facial

Activated charcoal has been used throughout history: in construction, water treatment, medicine and many other areas. This naturally occurring product was first used to smelt different ores. The ancient Egyptians realized that it burns hotter than wood, making it more effective in the production of bronze and other metals.

Activated charcoal is much more porous than charcoal. Because of its larger surface area, activated carbon’s ability to filter out more than charcoal can; is making it a wiser choice in many more applications.” Charcoal has been used in everything from art supplies to gunpowder. This article will focus on activated charcoal’s medicinal and hygienic properties.

The Egyptians’ contributions survive in the form of papyri, which are among the earliest scientific texts. Scholars in other advanced early cultures also wrote about charcoal’s properties. Roman and Greek scientists, most notably Pliny the Elder and Hippocrates, discovered many uses that have helped make our world both cleaner and healthier.

The First Uses of Activated Charcoal

  • Used to preserve pots in order to avoid rot, fungus and the accumulation of bacteria.
  • Used to help store and preserve water on ships traveling long distances.
  • Ability to prevent decomposition made it useful for embalming bodies.

First Medicinal Use

  • 8000 BC Native Americans mixed powdered charcoal with water as a remedy for stomach upset
  • First recorded use was in Egypt ( circa 1500 BC). It was used to absorb odors from the intestinal tract and from infected wounds.
  • Hippocrates (400 BC) and Pliny (50 AD) used it to treat “a wide range of complaints including epilepsy, chlorosis (a severe form of iron-deficiency anemia), vertigo, and anthrax.”
  • Claudius Galen (150 A.D.) a prolific scientific author, wrote several papers on the use of charcoal.
  • Scientific advances were suppressed in Western Europe during the Dark Ages.  Unfortunately, the exchange of information from East to West slowed during this period.
  •  Charcoal was again put to widespread use during the 1700’s.
  • The systematic investigation of porous adsorbents began in 1773 by Scheele, Priestley and Fontana [http://bit.ly/2axIMpg]
  • “Charcoal was often prescribed for bilious problems (excessive bile excretion) … [and] for the control of odors from gangrenous ulcers.”
  • By the 1800s, charcoal was being used in hospitals to treat a variety of ailments including ulcers, sores, cancer, poisoning, intestinal problems, etc.
  • An 1886 publication recommended activated charcoal as a dentifrice.

Click through to try out MindBodySoul’s great smoothie recipe. If you’re in the mood for something with a bit more kick, Food and Wine has a new take on  cocktail classics. If you’re always up for a new addition to your beauty routine, top beauty bloggers swear by the cleansing power of activated charcoal masks. Try BodyUnburdened’s great DIY mask for an affordable, at-home treatment. There are also great choices for the man in your life: Kent and Bond makes a range of soaps which contain activated charcoal (he’ll love the Ultramarine Organic Body Brick).

You’ll find activated charcoal used in everything from recipes to beauty and wellness products. Its versatility and effectiveness lead some people to call it black magic! People all over the world are rediscovering the benefits of activated charcoal.

CharcoCaps® dietary supplement relieves gas and bloating FAST!*  Enjoy your favorite foods without worry! *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.