A lit­tle black magic

Red Seal’s natur­opath Julie Fer­gus­son breaks down the ben­e­fits of ac­ti­vated char­coal, both a fig­u­ra­tive and lit­eral life­saver in many cases.


You’ve prob­a­bly seen the videos sweep­ing the in­ter­net… guys and girls peel­ing black masks off their faces re­veal­ing smooth and sup­ple skin, or rig­or­ously scrub­bing black pow­der into their teeth, to re­veal per­fect pearly whites af­ter a quick rinse.

What’s this black, magic in­gre­di­ent?

It’s ac­ti­vated char­coal. What you may not know about this amaz­ing sub­stance is that it has an­other in­cred­i­ble ben­e­fit, which seems to have flown un­der the radar among all the mask peel­ing and teeth­brush­ing hype.

Ac­ti­vated char­coal has ac­tu­ally been used since the 1800s for its ben­e­fits in as­sist­ing with in­testi­nal up­sets and ab­sorb­ing tox­ins. This black sub­stance is so ef­fec­tive, hos­pi­tals have it in their emer­gency rooms to treat poi­son vic­tims. It helps save many thou­sands of peo­ple every year.

Taken in cap­sule or tablet form, ac­ti­vated char­coal ba­si­cally acts like a molec­u­lar sponge in the gut. It at­tracts tox­ins or bac­te­ria sim­i­lar to a mag­net. It is not ab­sorbed by the body and car­ries out tox­ins or chem­i­cals found in your stom­ach or in­testines, via the bowel.

It comes from burn­ing nat­u­ral sub­stances such as co­conut shells. Once burned, the shells are ground into a pow­der for­mat and made into cap­sules or tablets (or pow­der for teeth or face masks). The rea­son it is ‘ac­ti­vated’ is be­cause it is a form of car­bon pro­cessed to have lots of small pores, which in­crease the avail­able sur­face area for op­ti­mal ab­sorp­tion.

When to use it?

A pantry sta­ple Keep in the pantry for times that you, your chil­dren or even your an­i­mals have a stom­ach up­set such as bloat­ing, flat­u­lence or loose bow­els.

The ul­ti­mate travel com­pan­ion Head­ing some­where known for poorer hy­giene stan­dards than our west­ern stom­achs can han­dle? You ab­so­lutely must take ac­ti­vated char­coal with you. In fact I carry ac­ti­vated char­coal when I travel any­where. No­body likes a hol­i­day be­ing ru­ined by travel bugs.

Food in­tol­er­ances Use­ful if you are in­tol­er­ant (not al­ler­gic) to any foods and feel you have ac­ci­dently in­gested this food.

In all cases take 2-5 cap­sules and then 2 cap­sules every 2 hours if re­quired. Do not ex­ceed a to­tal daily dosage of 15 cap­sules.

So, there you have it – an­other in­cred­i­ble use for an in­cred­i­ble sub­stance. I would highly rec­om­mend pop­ping some in your shop­ping bas­ket next time you see it and keep­ing it in the pantry, and if you are trav­el­ling over­seas, ab­so­lutely pack some in the toi­let bag. I know from ex­pe­ri­ence it’s saved many a trip to Bali from sure dis­as­ter!

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