I used Activated Charcoal a few months ago when I had an awful bout of food poisoning, and it worked wonders! This is actually the substance that many hospitals have on hand and use when patients have ingested toxins or when they pump patients’ stomachs. It is available as a loose powder and in capsule form (see notes below!)
Activated charcoal is a highly absorbent substance. It removes toxins when they adhere to the surface of the charcoal. It is not absorbed by the body, but passes through the GI system, so chemicals and toxins adhere to it, pass through the body and are expelled by the digestive system.
In the 1800s, two men took lethal doses of poisons (including arsenic) and survived without harm… their secret: they mixed the toxins with activated charcoal powder. (Stating the obvious: do not try to repeat these experiments!)
Activated charcoal is extremely effective at pulling toxins from household chemicals, ingested medicines, and other toxins from the body, especially when taken within 30 minutes of ingestion. For this reason, it is a great first treatment for any kind of poisoning, but should not be taken within several hours of medications (or even vitamins) that DO need to be absorbed.
There is even some evidence that activated charcoal is helpful both before and after alcohol consumption to lessen the amount that is absorbed by the body.
Even mainstream medical sites are on board with the benefits of using activated charcoal for a poison remedy.
Should you ever need to use activated charcoal on yourself of a child for poisoning, use as soon as possible and call a poison control center or go to the emergency room as well to make sure the poison has been fully removed!
I’ve personally used activated charcoal for food poisoning and it worked… I mixed 1-2 tablespoons of activated charcoal with water and drank quickly. The food poisoning went away within a couple of hours. Charcoal should not be taken regularly, as it can cause constipation and block mineral absorption if it is not needed. Also, it can’t be mixed with dairy products or many foods, as they lower its effectiveness. This dose can be repeated up to 3 times a day until symptoms of food poisoning or other poison are gone.
Important note: If you have to take charcoal, make sure to drink a lot of water as it can cause dehydration if taken in large doses!
Activated charcoal is also effective externally as a poultice on spider and insect bites. I tried this when my son was bitten by a brown recluse, and alternating poultices of activated charcoal, baking soda, and powdered plantain completely reversed the bite and he doesn’t even have a scar now.
But what does that have to do with teeth?
So, it’s all well and good that activated charcoal is an effective poison remedy… but you might be wondering why I brushed my teeth with it…
First, please excuse my weird smile in those pictures and the bad lighting in my bathroom… I was trying to show all of my teeth (I don’t usually smile like that! ).
The times that I’d recommended charcoal for use in food poisoning or other digestive issues, I always cautioned people to mix with water and swallow quickly so that it wouldn’t stain their teeth. Then, a holistic dentist I know mentioned that it is very effective at whitening teeth… huh?
Since the powder stains everything, I had always worried that it would do the same to my teeth (one of my kids dumped it in the kitchen one time and it does stain tile, grout, clothes and shoes… just a note).
I did some research and found out that even though it temporarily makes the mouth look extremely black (see picture above!) it has the same effect as it does when ingested: it pulls toxins from the mouth and removes stains. (Fair warning: when you open your mouth, it is completely black and rather scary looking! Right after I did this the first time I was intensely worried that it would stain my teeth!)
To my surprise, all of the black washes away and it makes your teeth feel extremely clean and smooth. After a few uses, my teeth were noticeably whiter too (you can sort of tell in the picture above… the lighting didn’t do it justice!).
Further research I’ve done on this showed that activated charcoal can actually be helpful in changing the pH and health of the mouth, and as such is effective in preventing cavities and killing the bad bacteria present in tooth decay and gingivitis. For this reason, I now suggest and use it as part of my remineralizing protocol for teeth, along with my remineralizing toothpaste.
How to Use Charcoal on Teeth
Dip a clean, wet toothbrush into the powdered charcoal (or dump a capsule of charcoal on the toothbrush). Lean over the container or charcoal and quickly put the charcoal covered toothbrush in the mouth (this is to protect your sink). Brush in small, gentle circles for 2 minutes, spit carefully and rinse really well. Your mouth will feel amazingly clean…. your sink, not so much! Use as often as needed.
Where to get Activated Charcoal:
Most natural health stores carry activated charcoal in loose powder or capsule form and it is also available online. I keep both the powdered and capsuled forms on hand in case it is needed for poisoning and I use the powdered in a small glass jar for tooth brushing. Make sure that the charcoal is from wood or coconut sources and not petroleum-based.
After using the activated charcoal for a few months and swishing with diluted regular 3% hydrogen peroxide when I remember (at the recommendation of a dentist) I am really happy with how white my teeth have gotten!
Here’s a recent picture (cropped from a photo at a family wedding so it looks pixellated). Notice the difference?
What do you think? Am I crazy… would you try it for whitening your teeth? Tell me below!