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Charcoal: Detoxifying Wonder

Free associate charcoal… Images of 4th of July picnics and roasting corn, may spring to mind, along with barbeque tinged air. Or maybe you envision willowy models with Cleopatra’s vampish kohl eyes. Instead of smoking up the grill or the catwalk, activated charcoal is something different: a powerful wellness remedy. Its medicinal use traces back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians. 

So what is the “activated” part and how does it work? It’s created from a variety of carbon-rich sources, such as coconut, wood, peat or coal, and activated by heating at very high temperatures, which makes the charcoal ultra porous. Also called activated carbon, it’s like a virtual sponge that naturally absorbs toxins. Chances are, it’s already the main ingredient your water filter; carbon water filters are found in everything from common pitchers to household faucet filtration systems. 

Unless you live in a bubble, you’re continually exposed to different levels of toxins. It’s in the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the products you put on your skin. The purifying benefits of activated charcoal are plentiful: antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, it’s used in everything from toothpaste to skincare. For a myriad of ways, activated charcoal can improve overall wellbeing, read on...

Natural Skincare

Lately, activated charcoal has been having a well-deserved moment in natural skincare. Because of its natural ability to draw out impurities, clear pores, and help fight acne, its being featured in facial masks, scrubs, soap and more. All this praise comes as no surprise to Dominique Caron, herbalist and certified aromatherapist, formulator and founder of Apoterra Skincare. Caron recognized activated charcoal’s potential years ago. She tells us, “activated charcoal was one of the first ingredients I gravitated towards when I started formulating natural skincare products. Its deep black color, gentle nature on the skin, yet powerful effects, made it a must try in my book!”

The holistic way it cleans yet doesn’t strip skin is unusual. Caron says, “There is a concept out there that if you have oily skin, acne or congestion, you want to dry the skin, but that is incorrect… You really want to nourish and balance the skin to get results. Drying the skin will only lead to irritation possibly worsen your congestion and breakouts.” 

With deep cleansing benefits, activated charcoal lends itself to holistic beauty treatments. Caron says, “What I love about using activated charcoal for the skin is its amazing ability to absorb excess oils and toxins, without drying the skin. This makes it a wonderful ingredient to add to cleansing products and masks for congested and break out prone skin!” 

*charcoal skincare products should not be used with retinols, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or benzoyl peroxide.

Intestinal Concerns 

Activated charcoal taken orally is used medically to ease gastrointestinal issues, and is a powerful medical treatment. Functional medicine practitioner, Dr. Inna Lukyanovsky, is a gut and hormones expert, doctor of pharmacy and best selling author of "Crohn's and Colitis Fix" and "Digestive Reset.” She admits to being a fan of activated charcoal and often uses it in her practice. Dr. Lukyanovsky says she recommends it “short term for many instances like traveling with toxic exposures, hangover, and food poisoning when traveling.” Additionally, she says, “it also helps with gas, but can get constipating so I recommend to limit the use.” Dr. Lukyanovsky also cautions not to “overdo activated charcoal, as it can be absorbing to other nutrients.”

Studies on activated charcoal and the body continue. And since activated charcoal lightens the load of harmful toxins within the body, it may also help improve kidney function. A study showed that activated charcoal in conjunction with a low protein diet may help control kidney disease. 

*Before taking activated charcoal as a supplement, check with your doctor, especially if you’re on medication because it may become absorbed and bind to the drugs. 

Protective Material

When used in fabrics, activated charcoal is close to a miracle-material. Also called, activated carbon cloth, it lessens odors and shields the wearer from harmful environmental toxins. There’s nothing subtle about this fabric’s protective qualities. Activated charcoal cloth is so powerful that the Ministry of Defence used it in suits for protection from chemical warfare. And it’s even used in Hazmat suits! The potential for activated charcoal in material has only begun to be explored. A study showed that activated carbon fabric is capable of storing energy within a vehicle and has the capacity to function like a battery. Imagine that… As research progresses, who knows what life-changing discoveries will be linked to activated charcoal.   

Wellness and deep sleep are natural partners. You can also integrate the protective qualities of activated charcoal into your lifestyle by meshing it into your nightly routine. Our Crystal Cove mattress infuses activated charcoal into one of its memory foam layers. This way, as your body naturally renews itself during sleep cycles, in addition to spinal alignment and comfort, you also experience activated charcoal’s purifying benefits throughout the night. 



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