...it's not because of any use as a "remedy".
Let's look at the definition of an herb: any plant that can be used medicinally. As far as my research has gone, there is a huge debate as to whether charcoal is medicinal or not. Not much research and tests have been made, but I did find the few interesting studies and tests that have been done.
Charcoal and COPD
In this particular study, 40 patients were selected that had COPD. They were all older patients, the men had to be 45 and 80 and the women had to be at least one year past menopause or sterile. They also had all been smokers. (2014)
According to the requirements, the test subjects had to stop most of their COPD treatments prior to the study, aside from "inhaled corticosteroids at a stable dose, short acting beta2-agonists and anti-histamines." The study then went on to randomize the test subjects into two groups: those that would take the iodinated activated charcoal, and those that took the placebo (non-iodinated activated charcoal). They were to take them an hour prior to breakfast. (2014)
The findings in the testing that was done during the eight weeks showed that the iodinated activated charcoal had better results than the placebo group. Exercise testing was done as well as questionnaires and a group analysis, and the majority showed to favor the iodinated activated charcoal. (2014)
There were some side effects, however. Some patients receiving the iodinated activated charcoal showed slight changes in thyroid functions. There were also problems with constipation, sense of taste, stomach pain, joint injuries, diarrhea, and other issues of that nature. (2014)
So we know that there were side effects from daily use of charcoal. We have also learned that charcoal has shown some signs of helping patients with COPD. Would I suggest those with COPD take charcoal? I'd need to see more tests done on that and also find a safer way to do it without all those side effects!
Charcoal and poison
Charcoal can be a binding agent, and has been rumored to be able to bind poison that has been ingested to it. Curious, I had to look into that.
A controlled-trial study was held at three Sri Lankan hospitals on patients that had acute self-poisoning. This was a very interesting study! There were a total of 4,632 patients, three groups. The categories were those that would receive no charcoal, one dose of charcoal, or six doses of charcoal. (2008)
The results were morbid. There were no changes in the mortality rate between groups, neither did poison or circumstance effect the judgement. (2008)
So should charcoal be your "go to" for poison treatment? No, not in my opinion based on these findings.
So why do I use it?
I use it topically.
Sure, once in a while I use it to whiten my teeth. You shouldn't swallow your tooth paste, neither would I swallow my charcoal. (I use my Charcoal Face Mask to remove stain from my teeth.)
My first encounter with activated charcoal was when a custom order came in for black drawing salve. I was so confused as to what that even was, I had never heard of it before! I looked into it and found that many people use it for removing splinters, helping with bee stings, and more. I had to look farther into activated charcoal and what it could be used for.
Yes, this called for another research review.
I found one hosted by Andrews University. It was actually an undergraduate research honors thesis, written by Celena Cameron in 2011. However, there is a specific request on the document to honor the copyright and to not duplicate or distribute it without written permission. Although I cite all of my sources and wouldn't dream of dishonoring any authors work, I am gonna abide by this. So, if you are interested in knowing what activated charcoal can do for your skin (particularly as a mask or patch), then go read the PDF straight from the source: Dermal Reduction of Urushiols Using Activated Charcoal Formulated Dermal Care Patch.
All I'm saying is I was very pleased with the paper just as I'm sure the students professors were.
Do you use activated charcoal? What do you think of my findings? Do you like the results of your uses of it?
If you are interested in buying charcoal and using it, by all means go ahead and let me know if you like it or not!
I hope you learned something from this post as I learned a lot researching for it! Looking forward to hearing what you think on the topic!
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Staffan Skogvall, Jonas S. Erjefält, Anders I. Olin, Jaro Ankerst, Leif Bjermer. (2014). Oral Iodinated Activated Charcoal Improves Lung Function In Patients with COPD. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rmed.2014.03.001
Eddleston M1, Juszczak E, Buckley NA, Senarathna L, Mohamed F, Dissanayake W, Hittarage A, Azher S, Jeganathan K, Jayamanne S, Sheriff MR, Warrell DA; Ox-Col Poisoning Study collaborators. (2008) Multiple-dose Activated Charcoal In Acute Self-Poisoning: A Randomised Controlled Trial. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60270-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18280328
Author: Tina Potter
Master Herbalist, I've graduated as an American Healthcare College Alumnus, I've become a member of American Herbalist Guild and author of survivalist series Survival Ember co-authored by professional survivalist Kenny Dietrich of Ashland, KY. I've been beyond blessed with the constant desire to learn and teach.
COMMON SENSE NOTICE: I do not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure disease. What you do with the information I post is up to you, but it is advised to consult with a doctor before acting on alternative methods of medicine. I wish you all the best!