Have you ever heard of a new superfood or natural beauty, trendy ingredient and thought to yourself WTF is that?! Well, this happens to me all the time. And my naturally curious nature loves to delve in and learn all about it, experiment with ingredients, and then share what I've learned. So I thought I'd start a little blog series I call #WTFriday, where we explore anything that's had us scratching our heads and thinking WTF is that...why is it good for me...and how am I supposed to use it?!
I thought I'd kick it off with an ingredient that's been circulating the health and beauty worlds for some time now. You've probably heard about it and know the gist of it by now, but you may be interested in finding uses for it. Below, I'll give you some ideas as well as a video where I show you how to make one very special bedtime drink I call Black Magic for it's magical cleansing properties.
So, #WTF is activated charcoal?!
You guys, activated charcoal is so cool! And even though it is newer on most of our radars, it is actually an age-old treatment for heavy metals poisoning, treatment in nausea, gas, and digestive issues. More recently it has come onto the main stage probably because it looks and sounds so exotic and intriguing. And, in fact, it is.
The way they make most of the high-quality, food-grade activated charcoal you see for sale today is by, first, heating coconut shells to create a char. Then they use what's called steam-activation at super high temperatures of 1,700° to 1,800°F. With steam in the absence of oxygen, the volatile compounds are removed, and layers of the carbon atoms are peeled off, leaving what you could imagine as a carbon skeleton - enlarging the internal pores and effectively increasing the surface area. Once cooled, the activated charcoal is then repeatedly water-washed. (1) I will mention that while this might sound like a fun DIY project, it's really not one you should to embark on as it is potentially dangerous and better left to scientists. :-)
When you consume activated charcoal it works through adsorption (as opposed to absorption). Instead of being soaked up or assimilated, like in absorption, adsorption works like this; the positively-charged toxins and gas bind themselves to the negatively-charged charcoal molecules, like a little magnet. So the toxins are, essentially, attracted and pulled into the pores of the activated charcoal, and then hang on for the ride out of the body.(2)
All of us have toxins in our bodies (whether we'd like to believe it or not!), from pesticides in foods we've consumed, to mold we may have breathed in, to chemicals in the water we drink. Even if we've cleaned up our diet, these toxins may have been hanging out for years! And they can contribute to allergic reactions and irritants to our digestive system. We may not realized it's happening because they can manifest in a variety of ways; like depression, mental fogginess, joint pain, and accelerated aging. But when we free up our body's digestive tract by riding it of toxins and flushing it with all the good nutrients it needs, we may see these symptoms lift away and we can start to feel more energized and look healthier and younger. And who doesn't want that?!!
It's also helpful for treatment of hangovers (hallelujah!) and gas.
How you can incorporate activated charcoal for detoxing...
- I suggest using it once per day in the evenings for one week, and then once per week after that. This way you do the heavy cleansing and then allow for toxins to be flushed out on an ongoing basis.
- Drink activated charcoal dissolved in water or take in capsule form in the evening (at least two hours after you've eaten dinner).
- It's also really important to keep the rest of your diet clean by eating a plant-centered diet, choosing only organic fruits and veggies, grass-fed beef (and cheeses), pasture-raised chickens (and eggs from pastured chickens) and wild fish.
"BLACK MAGIC" ACTIVATED CHARCOAL ELIXIR
- 1-1/2 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 8 oz. purified water
- 1 dropper full (~ 1/4 teas. licorice root extract)
- 1 dash nutmeg
- 2 dashes cinnamon
- 1-2 capsules activated charcoal
Combine chia seeds and water in an 8 oz. mason jar or glass and shake or stir. Shake again after a few minutes to avoid seeds sticking to the bottom or clumping. Let soak for 1-12 hours. Add licorice root, nutmeg, cinnamon. To add activated charcoal, open capsule directly above glass to avoid spilling. It will stain certain materials so be careful not to get it on fabrics or porous surfaces. Shake and voila!!!
A couple cautions...
- Activated charcoal is not meant for everyday use.
- Do not take activated charcoal within 2-3 hours as prescription medications as it can have the same effect as with toxins - pulling them out of the body before they are absorbed.
- If you are pregnant or nursing check with your doctor before using.
- If you aren't sure if activated charcoal is safe for you, check with your doctor.
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And one last little bonus...
Me as I attempt to use our new fave ingredient as a teeth whitener! I think it worked a little. Side note: While it will wash off a white porcelain sink, I don't recommend wearing white anything, especially brand new Converse.
Thanks for reading, friends! I hope you learned something new this Friday - I know I did!