Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH

Dr. Agatha a Pathologist and Medical Examiner for the state of Georgia and founder of Uchee Pines Institute (>) wrote that, “Activated charcoal is a remedy that should be in every household. It is a very effective agent for absorbing a variety of drugs and poisons that may have been accidentally swallowed. It is also an excellent remedy for intestinal disorders, insect bits, and many other applications”.

In today’s world the concentration of man-made toxins is constantly growing. Also food is refined and deprived of natural nutrients and of low quality. This alone can leave the body feeling intoxicated, bloated and tired. Fortunately there are simple natural ways that can be used to quickly alleviate these problems. One of the best natural detoxifying remedies from God’s pharmacy I know is activated charcoal. With internal and external use of activated charcoal you can effectively cope with many health problems including the following:



It is a potent natural remedy used to trap toxins and chemicals in its millions of tiny pores, allowing them to be flushed out so the body doesn’t reabsorb them. It is famous for its ability to effectively and quickly alleviate uncomfortable bloating and gas. It works by binding the gas that causes discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract. Activated charcoal is an NHS-approved medication commonly used to relieve various gastro-intestinal symptoms associated with hyperacidity, indigestion, and flatulence. Some physicians also use it to deal with certain types of chemical and drug poisoning. Activated charcoal is also an excellent body odour absorber and helps maintain healthy liver function by assisting this organ in its efforts to detoxify the body.

Activated charcoal, also called activated carbon is made from natural organic material and activated to ensure it adsorbs three to four times more toxins and gas from gastrointestinal track than ordinary charcoal. Activated Charcoal is produced by heating of dry wood, coconut shells, or other natural substances in the absence of oxygen and under pressure to open up millions of small spaces between the carbon atoms and turn it literally into a “sponge that adsorbs impurities and harmful substances. That is why activated charcoal is used for water filtration. In fact, most hospital emergency rooms use a charcoal solution for medication overdoses and accidental poisonings.

It was estimated that just one teaspoonful of activated charcoal has about the same total surface area as a football field! This enormous surface area provides activated charcoal with innumerable bonding sites, and when chemicals that are attracted to carbon pass by they are attached to the surface. Due to this effect charcoal is regarded as highly effective in absorbing many poisons from human gastrointestinal tract.

Among the most common substances that can be adsorbed and neutralised by activated charcoal are the following: Mercury, Lead, Narcotics, Cocaine, Opium, Nicotine, Arsenic, Chlorine, Gasoline, Aspirin, Paracetamol, Penicillin, Morphine, Valium, Pesticides, Radioactive Substances, Phenol, Methyl, Hydrochloride, Kerosene, Acetate, Digitalis, Quinine, Theophylline, Carbon dioxide, and many others.

Activated Charcoal (Carbon) - A Life-Saving Remedy

Charcoal helps absorb and neutralise gas created by indigestion and food fermentation in the stomach and intestinal tract. It has repeatedly proven to be very beneficial in assisting body’s detoxification process and especially for numerous gastro-intestinal problems such as gas, flatulence, bloating, nausea, poisoning, diarrhoea, heart burn, aspirin, paracetamol and other medication overdose, kidney and liver failure, body odour or bad breath.
Charcoal powder mixed with water can be also used externally for oral hygiene, various skin inflammations, insect and snake bites, cuts and burns, or mouth, eye and ear infections. Opening a capsule and using charcoal powder and brushing the teeth with it is regarded as very effective for stained teeth.


Numerous studies have shown that regular ingestion of charcoal is safe for both adults and children. The only side effect which may sometimes occur as a result of ingesting excessive doses of charcoal is constipation, especially when taking charcoal is accompanied by drinking insufficient amount of water.

Charcoal should be taken two hours before or after taking medication as otherwise it may adsorb and inactivate it. However, it is advisable to check with your physician before beginning treatment with charcoal if you are taking prescription drugs.

Charcoal is not effective in every poisoning situation so consult a Poisons Information Service or a physician for instructions.

Dr. Agatha Thrash does not recommend charcoal to be used on a regular basis for a long period of time but rather to detoxify the body occasionally and whenever a treatment with charcoal is required.


To make a small external poultice: Open about 5 charcoal capsules (1 teaspoon of activated charcoal powder) and mix it with 1 teaspoon of ground flax seeds or corn starch in 1 tablespoon (or more if required) of very hot water. Stir until blended and cool to room temperature. Place mixture generously on a strip of gauze large enough to cover the area and tape the sides so that the mixture does not leak. Leave for at least 3 hours or overnight.


– Natural Relief for Gas, Indigestion, Bloating, Wind and Flatulence

– Powerful Detoxification Aid

– Effective Internal Cleansing

– Potent Poisoning or Drug Overdose Antidote

– Effective Teeth Whitening


Activated Charcoal helps absorb and neutralise gas created by indigestion and food fermentation in the stomach and intestinal tract. A study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that activated charcoal prevents intestinal gas following a typical gas-producing meal. It has repeatedly proven to be very beneficial in especially for numerous gastro-intestinal problems such as gas, flatulence, bloating, nausea, poisoning, diarrhoea, heart burn, and medication overdose.


Today we live in a toxic environment, and even on the healthiest diet we are still ingesting too many harmful chemicals. For this reason, in order to maintain and improve our health, we need to help the body in its efforts to eliminate these dangerous substances. Fortunately, due to its unique ability to adsorb toxins from the blood Activated Charcoal also helps assist the body in detoxifying the urinary tract, kidneys and liver, helping maintain normal function of these organs.


Used internally, Activated charcoal helps to eliminate body and faecal odour, and breathe (halitosis), because it cleanses stomach, intestines and blood. If the main cause of bad breath comes from the mouth, you can open one capsule mix charcoal powder with some warm water and rinse the mouth with the solution. It should promptly neutralize the most offensive breath.


You can open capsules, mix the activated charcoal powder with water and brush your teeth with it to remove stains from your teeth as activated Charcoal is a very effective and quick teeth whitener.

Activated Charcoal (Carbon) - A Life-Saving Remedy


Let me share with you a few statements written by Ellen G White in 19th century about amazing healing properties of charcoal:

„A young woman had contracted fever and it was feared she could not live. The physician came to me and said, Sister White, have you any light for me on this case? If relief cannot be given she can live but a few hours. I replied, Send to a blacksmith’s shop, and get some pulverized charcoal; make a poultice of it, and lay it over her stomach and sides. The doctor hastened away to follow out my instructions. Soon he re-turned, saying, Relief came in less than half an hour after the application of the poultice. She is now having the first natural sleep she has had for days.” LLM.366.003

“I have ordered the same treatment for others who were suffering great pain, and it has brought relief, and been the means of saving life. My mother had told me that snake bites and the sting of reptiles and poisonous insects could often be rendered harmless by the use of charcoal poultices. When working on the land at Avondale, Australia, the workmen would often bruise their hands and limbs, and this in many cases resulted in such severe inflammation that the worker would have to leave his work for some time. One came to me one day in this condition, with his hand tied in a sling. He was much troubled over the circumstances; for his help was needed in clearing the land. I said to him, “Go to the place where you have been burning the timber, and get me some charcoal from the eucalyptus tree, pulverize it, and I will dress your hand.” This was done, and the next morning he reported that the pain was gone. Soon he was ready to return to his work.” LLM. 366.004

“Brother Palmer’s little son, who is eighteen months old. For several days he has had a painful swelling on the knee, supposed to be from the bite of some poisonous insect. Pulverized charcoal, mixed with flaxseed, was placed upon the swelling, and this poultice gave relief at once. The child had screamed with pain all night, but when this was applied, he slept. Today she has been to see the little one twice. She opened the swelling in two places, and a large amount of yellow matter and blood was discharged freely. The child was relieved of its great suffering. We thank the Lord that we may become intelligent in using the simple things within our reach to alleviate pain, and successfully remove its cause.” PC.015.004 (Paulson Collection of E. G. White Letters)

“That offensive breath must be purified. Get pulverized charcoal, soak it in water, and drink this water freely. Eat no vegetables. Eat fruit, and plain well-baked bread. Take light exercise, and at night wear a charcoal compress over the liver and abdomen.” (E. G. White Letter 115, 1898).

“Take pulverized charcoal, wet it, and put in on as a poultice. The charcoal possesses a wonderful power of drawing poison from the system.” (E. G. White Letter 326, 1906).

“I have ordered the same treatment for other who were suffering great pain, and it has brought relief, and been the means of saving life. My mother has told me that snake bites and the sting of reptiles and poisonous insects could be rendered harmless by the use of charcoal poultices.” (E.G. White Letter 90, 1908).

“I have not time to relate the wonderful cures wrought, not by dosing with drugs, but by the application with water. We use charcoal largely, making it into poultices. It destroys inflammation, and removes the poison.” (E.G. White Letter 90, 1908).

“Pulverized charcoal…use it freely. Mix it with sweet (cooking) oil. thus it can be taken with less difficulty than if mixed with water. I think that you would obtain benefit from the use of charcoal compresses, pulverized charcoal moistened, put in a flannel bag and placed over the affected part. When my husband was sick, I had recourse to many remedies, and I know the value of charcoal as a healing agency. I have worked for my husband with marked success when his life was in great peril.” (E. G. White Letter 75, 1904).

“I might go to any length in this matter, my brother, but I leave it now with a few instances. A brother was taken sick with inflammation of the bowels and bloody dysentery. The man was not a careful health reformer, but indulged his appetite. We were just preparing to leave Texas, where we had been laboring for several months, and we had carriages prepared to take away this brother and his family, and several others who were suffering from malarial fever. My husband and I thought we would stand this expense rather than have heads of several families die and leave their wives and children unprovided for. Two or three were taken in a spring wagon on spring mattresses. But this man who was suffering from inflammation of the bowels, sent for me to come to him. My husband and I decided that it would not do to move him. Fears were entertained that mortification had set in. Then the thought came to me like a communication from the Lord to take pulverized charcoal, put water upon it, and give this water to the sick man to drink, putting bandages of the charcoal over the bowels and stomach. We were about one mile from the city of Denison, but the sick man’s son went to a blacksmith’s shop, secured the charcoal, and pulverized it, and then used it according to the directions given. The result was that in half an hour there was a change for the better. We had to go on our journey and leave the family behind, but what was our surprise the following day to see their wagon overtake us. The sick man was lying in a bed in the wagon. The blessing of God had worked with the simple means used.” PC.026.004

“I still remember another case. At our first camp-meeting here, held in Brighton, a young lady was taken sick on the ground, and remained sick during most of the meeting. She was thought to have typhoid fever, and although many prayers were offered in her behalf, she left the ground sick. Dr. M.C.Kellogg, half-brother to J.H.Kellogg, of Battle Creek, was attending her. He came to me one morning, and said, Sister Price is in great pain. I cannot relieve her. She cannot sleep, and every breath seems as though it would be her last. We prayed for her, and then like a flash of lightning there came to me the thought of the charcoal. “Send to the blacksmith for charcoal, and pulverize it, I said, “and put a poultice of it on her side.” He tried this, and in one hour he came to me and said, “That prescription was an inspiration from God. Sister Price could not have lived until now if no change had come. The sick one fell into a restful sleep; the crisis passed, and she began to amend. In a few days she was taken from Melbourne to her home in Melbourne, and is alive and well today.” PC.027.001


Derlet, R.W. and Albertson, T.E. (1986) ‘Activated Charcoal—Past, present and future’, 145(4).

Derlet, R.W. and Albertson, T.E. (1986) ‘Activated Charcoal—Past, present and future’, 145(4).

Chin, L., Picchioni, A.L. and Duplisse, B.R. (1970) ‘The action of activated charcoal on poisons in the digestive tract’, Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 16(3), pp. 786–799. doi: 10.1016/0041-008X(70)90085-2.

Andersen, A. (1946) ‘Experimental studies on the pharmacology of activated charcoal; adsorption power of charcoal in aqueous solutions’, Acta pharmacologica et toxicologica., 2(1), pp. 69–78.

Agatha M, MD & Calvin L Jr, MD Thrash (1988). RX: Charcoal. Publisher: New Lifestyle Books, Seale, Alabama, 1988. 36875. ISBN 10: 0942658094 ISBN 13: 9780942658095

John Dinsley (2006) Charcoal Remedies. The Complete Handbook of Medicinal Charcoal and its applications. Published by GateKeepers Book (2006) ISBN 10: 0973846402 ISBN 13: 9780973846409

Cooney, David O (1995) Activated Charcoal: Antidote, Remedy, and Health Aid. Publisher: TEACH Services, 1995, ISBN 10: 157258047X ISBN 13: 9781572580473

“Clever Monkeys: Monkeys and Medicinal Plants”. PBS. Retrieved 2012-05-20.

Charcoal, Activated (2014). The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Activated carbon for mercury removal (2015) Available at: (Accessed: 9 January 2017).

Hoegberg, L., Angelo, H., Christophersen, A. and Christensen, H. (2002) ‘Effect of ethanol and pH on the adsorption of acetaminophen (paracetamol) to high surface activated charcoal, in vitro studies’, Journal of toxicology. Clinical toxicology., 40(1), pp. 59–67.



Dr Calvin is a board-certified Internist specializing in heart disease and Dr. Agatha is a board-certified Pathologist and Medical Examiner for the state of Georgia. They are the founders of Uchee Pines Institute (1970), a non-profit natural health education institution. There, many simple remedies are used in the practice of health recovery such as hydrotherapy, massage, diet, and of course, charcoal. They authored the little work Rx Charcoal Startling New Facts About The world’s Most powerful Clinical Adsorbent.

Here are just a few personal experiences shared in their book:

Traveler’s Diarrhea

“A prominent Columbus, Georgia, executive was traveling to Mexico when he developed a bad case of tourista [the common euphemism for diarrhea amongst tourists. It is generally caused from E. coli bacterium in unsanitary food and water]. He was having diarrhea two to three times an hour on the first day of his disease, with much discomfort in the abdomen. A doctor treated him with the usual antibiotics and Lomotil. A week later, when he returned home, he consulted his own doctor because the condition had settled down to three to five diarrhea stools a day, with continuing discomfort. He got a change of medication but no change of symptoms. After twelve days of the disease and eight different medicines, he called us, desperately seeking suggestions for a natural remedy. We began a routine of one tablespoon of charcoal in a glass of water, followed by a full glass of water every time he had a loose stool. Within two days he was entirely well… and sold on charcoal. Now he never travels without charcoal, and always takes a tablespoon with the first hint of a symptom.”

Bee Sting (Anaphylaxis)

“Mrs. T. had become extremely allergic to bee stings. With her last sting, she had nausea, weakness, faintness, and some wheezing, which had necessitated treatment at an emergency room. Her physician had warned her that the next attack could be fatal, and urged her to undergo a series of desensitization shots. Unfortunately, before she could do so, she got another sting on her hand. Right away, the lady was pale, sweaty, weak, had a headache and nausea, and severe pain in her hand. She was beginning to wheeze.

We first rubbed the sting with a charcoal tablet wet with water as the very quickest way to apply charcoal, and immediately mixed some activated charcoal and water, and more completely covered the sting. Within two or three minutes of the charcoal application, she began to relax and feel better. A larger poultice was prepared to replace the emergency one, and it was changed at ten minute intervals for an hour. We gave her a tablespoon of charcoal by mouth in a glass of water. Then an interesting thing happened.

The patient felt perfectly well and took the poultice off believing herself to be entirely finished with the reaction. Within ten minutes, she was weak, sweaty, faint, and beginning to wheeze. The poultice was immediately re-applied, again with clearing of symptoms. After wearing the poultice all night, she was well. Although this lady usually experienced massive swelling after bee stings, she had no trace of swelling.”

As an ounce of prevention for the unforeseen, those who know they are always at risk from severe reactions to insect bites should always have charcoal with them. It’s too late to go buy a fire extinguisher when your house is burning. Those who know also tell us that most people who die in fires had no emergency plans. Charcoal will be a part of any well-thought out emergency preparedness, whether one lives in the country or the city.

Snake Bites

The Doctors Thrash have not had firsthand experience with treating a poisonous snakebite with charcoal. As such they are hesitant to suggest using charcoal exclusively in treating snakebite. But, judging from the personal experience of others they feel it should certainly be considered as a first aid treatment. They include this case they monitored over the phone:

“Our first case was reported to us by telephone. A couple living in a remote area of Arkansas, sixty miles down a winding road from the nearest hospital, called in great distress to report that their one-and-a-half-year old son had been bitten on the chest by a copperhead moccasin. This snake may cause death in a small child. The fang marks were surrounded by some swelling, and the child was in great pain.

We instructed the couple to get to the emergency room as quickly as possible. We also told them to apply charcoal poultices one after the other, every ten minutes until they got there. We were greatly relieved when they called several hours later to report that the child was doing quite well.

In fact, by the time they had gotten to the hospital, the child was asleep, the swelling had gone down and the pain had obviously stopped. The physician administered the antivenin to be on the safe side, but told them that he didn’t really believe it was necessary. The child had no ill effects.”


“We have seen pain in severe, throbbing and feverish cellulitis subside in a matter of five minutes after the application of a charcoal poultice. The reaction is unbelievable unless actually observed.”

Chronic Relapsing Pancreatitis

“A twenty-six-year old woman came to the conditioning center with chronic relapsing pancreatitis, planning to stay for two or three months. She had had several abdominal operations in the past three years, and had finally been diagnosed as having chronic pancreatitis. Because of the severe unremitting pain and debility, her physicians were considering total removal of her pancreas.

Hoping to find some relief short of this drastic procedure, her husband had had his job transferred to our area so that she could be treated at our institute. They “knew” treatment would take several months. The patient was on potent medications for pain and nausea. Despite these, she was having continuous pain, nausea and vomiting. We asked if she were willing to stop her medications, which we felt were aggravating her condition. She reluctantly agreed.

She was given fomentations to the abdomen, charcoal by mouth, and large abdominal poultices at night. Because of the severity of her symptoms, her lifestyle counselor stayed in her room continually for the first forty-eight hours. The following day, the nausea was better, and she could retain liquids. She was wheeled out into the sun for a few minutes several times a day. Day by day her pain declined, and her appetite improved. In two weeks she was taking long walks, and by three weeks was walking five to six miles a day. After four weeks, she was completely symptom-free, and they returned to their home, praising the Lord.”

Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-obstruction

“Several years ago, a middle-aged lady came to our conditioning center ‘as a last resort’. She had had abdominal surgery at least twelve times in the previous five years, and was having to be admitted to the hospital every two or three weeks for gastric intubation and intravenous fluids. She was rapidly becoming debilitated. We put her on large amounts of activated charcoal by mouth, and placed fomentations to the abdomen several times a day. On the third day, she began to get abdominal distention and nausea. She was given a large dose of charcoal by mouth and a fomentation was applied, which was afterward replaced by a large charcoal poultice to the abdomen.

The following morning, the distention was gone, and we rejoiced that she was hungry. The treatments continued, and she was given a regular vegetarian diet. She never had another attack! She continues to use charcoal daily.”

Neonatal Jaundice

Doctor Agatha Thrash tells the following case of neonatal jaundice in a four-day old breast-fed baby.

“The father took the baby to our laboratory to be tested for its total bilirubin levels. The levels continued to climb over the next twenty-four hours and a consulting physician agreed with our suspicion of an ABO blood incompatibility. When the bilirubin rose to 18 mg% the consultant prepared to give an exchange transfusion of blood.

The same hour the mother began administering as much charcoal as she could get the baby to accept. With the baby undressed in her lap, she sat in the sunlight giving over an hour of exposure to both front and back (babies can tolerate more sunlight before getting a sunburn than can adults).

At the next six-hour bilirubin check, the level was down to 16.5%, and we knew we had avoided the hazardous exchange transfusion. Continuing with this treatment the bilirubin began to clear and was down to 4 mg% by the tenth day.”

In one astounding study the need for exchange transfusions in babies with erythroblastosis fetalis was cut by more than 90% with the use of charcoal. Erythroblastosis fetalis is a severe anemia that develops in an unborn infant because the mother produces antibodies that attack the fetus’ red blood cells. The antibodies are usually caused by Rh incompatibility between the mother’s blood type and that of the fetus (that is, the mother and baby have different blood types).

These babies can be at extreme risk after birth and, depending on the severity, a blood transfusion may be performed. In one study done at Fort Benning, Georgia, activated charcoal, suspended in water, was given every two hours. The treatment was continued for 120 hours in normal newborns and 168 hours in premature infants, or until bilirubin levels fell. Charcoal should be begun at four hours of age to produce the maximum reduction in elevated bilirubin levels.

Liver and Kidney Failure

Patients with liver and kidney failure can be treated sometimes even in the home with large compresses of charcoal placed over the back or over the abdomen. Charcoal can also be given by mouth in an attempt to prevent toxins from building up in the blood.

We have applied charcoal compresses to the back in kidney failure and observed the strong odor of urine on the compress the following morning after eight hours over night. charcoal enemas may also be given.

A 44 year old nurse developed widespread metastases from a cancer of the colon. Her ureters became blocked partially by the cancer and her urinary wastes began to rise in her blood. Each week her blood urea nitrogen (BUN) was about 5 milligrams higher than the week before. When the level reached 130, we began charcoal compresses each night and charcoal by mouth (1 tablespoon every 4 hours) during the day. The next week her BUN was down 5 mg. and continued to fall about 5 mg. per week until her death from cancer

During her last few weeks the nausea and abdominal discomfort she had experienced because of the extremely high BUN was much relieved and finally stopped when her BUN fell below 100mg.”X-ray Burn Odor

“We had a patient who had a large deep ulcer (12 inches in diameter) due to x-ray bum on the back from an overdose of x-ray used for treating a skin cancer. The ulcer became infected and foul smelling. His entire house smelled of the ulcer, despite the most fastidious care. We started dressing the ulcer by sprinkling dry charcoal from a salt shaker on all the moist areas before applying gauze. Instantly odor vanished from the ulcer and gradually left the house. Although the patient eventually succumbed to the radiation sickness, he and his whole family were grateful for the charcoal.”

Charcoal cloth has been used in the management of discharging, infected, and malodorous wounds. In varicose leg ulcer and in infected surgical wounds, a single layer of charcoal cloth covered with a porous fabric sleeve dressing gave a noticeable reduction in wound odor in 95% of 39 patients. Wound cleansing was also noted in 80%. There were no adverse reactions to the material. The dressings did not stick to the wounds and could be removed without difficulty. Charcoal cloth also adsorbs bacteria.

Poison Ivy

A 38 year old sergeant was given a medical discharge from the Army because of an intense sensitivity to poison ivy. His sensitivity was so severe that one particular bout with the problem had resulted in a 5-week stay at Ft. Benning’s Martin Army Hospital complete with IV fluids, cortisone and a struggle just getting back to normal.

His wife called us early one morning asking us if we would see her husband. He had taken a walk in the country the day before and now his hands, feet , face and other areas were swollen tight. His eyelids were swollen shut and fingers were so stiff he could not bend them. We were reluctant to treat him as they insisted – without hospitalization and with simpler remedies than cortisone (which gave him wildly distressing thoughts). When we saw him he was feeling faint and nauseated. We showed his wife how to make charcoal compresses and instructed her on how to mix charcoal for oral administration. With these treatments he gradually improved during the day and could open his eyes by the next morning and close his fingers enough to grasp a steering wheel. After five days he was entirely well. We were all impressed!”

Ant Bites

Aware of the dire results of some insect bites, Dr. Agatha Thrash takes no chances and makes sure that charcoal is never far away. She shared this personal experience:

“My little grandchild accidentally sat down on a hill of fire ants. Instantly hundreds of ants began biting her. She screamed hysterically from the intense pain. We grabbed her, stripped off her clothing, and ran for a bathtub. As it filled with water, I added charcoal. After being submerged in that charcoal bath for less than two minutes, she stopped crying. The charcoal neutralized the poison, and her pain was gone. Charcoal has amazing healing properties. In fact, if I were stranded on a desert island, and could take only one thing along to protect me from disease, infection, and injury, I would choose charcoal.”

Now that is prevention in action. So for those of you who know you have severe sensitivities to insects or plants, it would be prudent to carry some charcoal with you on all your outdoor ventures. For those of you who are less sensitive, be sure to take some charcoal with you so you are prepared to help others, if need be. One never knows what might be lurking on a limb or under a leaf.


Calvin Thrash, M.D.

Many old-fashioned remedies have fallen by the wayside, because close scrutiny has revealed them to be no more than old wives tales, or worse, even harmful to the body. Witness “a little whisky for a cold,” or using cigarette smoke to control babies’ coughs. However, in the mad scientific rush to abandon non-pharmaceutical therapies, some remedies that had a basis in physiology were also deserted, being too time-consuming (or simply too unsophisticated) to continue their practice.

Charcoal seems to fit in this category. In bygone days people understood that cleansing the body systems assisted in prevention and treatment of disease. Now we have come full circle to realize the importance of the elimination of toxins and polluting chemicals in regaining of normal health. The secret of charcoal’s power is adsorption. Through an electrostatic charge, the charcoal granule draws poisons to it, attaching them to its surface—bound, as it were—so they can be safely removed. Thus the body can proceed with the healing process uninhibited by noxious chemicals or drugs. Since the action of charcoal is to adsorb, and it adds no “drug” to the blood, it is ideal for use as a poison control agent. In fact, most hospital emergency rooms use a charcoal solution for overdoses and accidental poisonings. The F.D.A. has found charcoal effective in adsorbing many poisons, gases, and drugs. In fact, it has been called “The Universal Antidote.”

Since charcoal works by adsorption (as opposed to absorption) a discussion of just what the term means is merited. The definition of adsorption is the attachment of a substance to the surface of another. This “binding” prevents the subsequent release of the toxin at a later time, which could occur if the material were simply “soaked up,” or absorbed. Of course, activated charcoal is not the only adsorbent material in the world, it simply is one of the most powerful—certainly for the money. Most other adsorbents available have a price tag at least a third more, if not double the cost of activated charcoal. Because charcoal is nearly pure carbon, the risks in using it are practically non-existent. Numerous studies both with animals and results in humans have shown that regular ingestion of even large quantities of charcoal have produced no detectable side effects. Equally important, studies of toxicity regarding skin contact and inhalation also have shown no side effects. This means, then, that the possibilities for “detox,” poison control, clearing intestinal problems, and allergic reactions are enormous. It is also possible, as a Soviet study suggests, that the reduction of pollutants and toxins, as well as cholesterol-reducing tendency by activated charcoal, may be a factor toward anti-aging and life extension. While no one is suggesting that activated charcoal is a “cure-all,” it has certainly proven amazing in its results with certain problems with which we have come in contact. Here are some anecdotal accounts of remarkable experiences we have encountered.

The Bee Sting

One patient was known to be highly allergic to bee stings, with production of enormous swelling. Since her father was a beekeeper, she had encountered bees and had numerous stings throughout childhood, with progressively worsening reactions. Finally, her last sting had produced severe swelling and trouble breathing. The physician in the case warned that future stings could be fatal. She was able to avoid stings for several years, but finally received another sting on the hand, which immediately started the reaction of sweating, swelling, and a severe headache. Fortunately, she consulted a friend who applied a charcoal poultice to the area. Within minutes, the general allergic reactions and pain had disappeared, leading the woman to theorize that everything was back to normal. She removed the poultice, but within 10 minutes the sweating, pain, and headache returned. The poultice was reapplied, and left in place for four hours. No further allergic symptoms were noted.

Gas Guzzling Encouraged

Raymond Hall, PhD., from Loma Linda University School of Medicine, selected 30 volunteers to study the effectiveness of activated charcoal against intestinal gas. Intestinal gas was measured after a low-gas producing meal, and then the group was given a meal high in gas producing foods. 15 were given activated charcoal, and 15 a placebo. The charcoal group had no more measurable gas than after the low-gas meal, whereas the placebo group produced large amounts of gas. Dr. Hall explains that “activated charcoal reduces the amount of gas either by adsorbing the gas itself, or adsorbing the intestinal bacteria that cause the gas.” He contends that “if a person has a gas problem, it’s worth trying.”

A Reclusive Predicament

A man was bitten by a brown recluse spider while doing some cleaning. Since there is no known antidote for the venom, the only treatment is surgical removal of the destroyed tissue, and grafting, which has little chance of success because of the continued inflammation and infection of the skin. To give some idea of the severity of this condition, many bites cause necrosis which leads to gangrene, with months of agony. The patient says, “it looked like someone threw battery acid all over that part of the leg… the leg was ugly with ulcers.” Charcoal therapy was begun eight days after the bite (it takes sometimes as much as five days to see symptoms), a poultice that was changed every six hours. Considering the severity of the damage caused by this venom, treatment had to be continued for four months. However, complete healing has taken place, without the need for steroids or grafts. “We don’t know where we would have been if we hadn’t had your book.”

An Unbelievable Comeback

This story is so profound that it borders on the unbelievable, and if we had not been involved in the events, we would have been skeptical. Helen Yuh, M.D., from Lakeview Hospital in Chicago, contacted Dr. Agatha Thrash regarding a patient that had taken an intentional overdose of 80 tablets of Tylenol (a fatal dose). She had been treated with the usual antidote, but it was becoming increasingly clear that even though she was alive, her liver had been severely damaged. Liver enzymes were rising at an alarming rate, and preparations had already been made for an emergency liver transplant, since it appeared the liver was essentially “dead.” Dr. Thrash recommended that as much activated charcoal as possible be used both internally and externally. A charcoal and water mixture was applied to the back, abdomen and chest, and also introduced orally. At the same time, she was transferred to St. Luke Hospital for the liver transplant, but just before the operation, another liver profile was taken. To the surprise of the physicians, the poison levels had decreased, and there was some liver function again. The decision was made to hold off on the transplant until further observation could be made. This patient had increased liver function daily, and at last report had completely normal processes, without even any indication of cirrhosis.

A Bath for the Pox

It began slowly. Then the rash. Finally it was obvious—the chicken pox. The pox appeared first on the four year old on Friday. He was covered—75 on his face alone! His mother was acquainted with some of the uses of charcoal, and decided drastic action was merited. She drew a bath, put half a cup of activated charcoal in it, then put the miserable youngster in. The itching eased almost immediately. He was given one “charcoal bath,” that night, three the next day, two on Sunday, and one on Monday and Tuesday. By then the lesions were nearly gone, and he had very little scarring. And how did he like the baths? His comment was, “I don’t itch anymore!”

These stories are just a sampling of our many experiences with charcoal. Needless to say, the time to look for where to get charcoal is not when an emergency arises. It must be on hand so problems can be handled quickly and effectively.

What about activation?

Charcoal has been subjected to high pressure steam that opens up more of the surface area available for the charcoal to use in adsorbing poisons. The charcoal remains just as safe as it always has been, but for most applications, it simply takes less of the charcoal to achieve the desired result. However, to be a truly all-purpose charcoal, it doesn’t require super activation. This is great for adsorption of gasses, but larger molecules plug the pores, making whatever surface area is underneath unavailable.

Charcoal and Cholesterol

Activated charcoal has been found to lower the concentration of total lipids, cholesterol, and triglycerides in the blood serum, liver, heart, and brain. A study reported by the British journal Lancet, found that patients with high blood cholesterol levels were able to reduce total cholesterol 25%. Not only that, but while LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) was lowered as much as 41%, HDL (the “good” kind)/LDL cholesterol ratio was doubled! The patients took the equivalent of roughly one quarter ounce (approximately one tablespoon) of activated charcoal three times daily. Another study conducted by the National Institute of Public Health in England, suggested that activated charcoal was as effective in reducing high cholesterol levels as the drug, lovastatin. More studies are needed in this area, but even if charcoal therapy is not as effective, it certainly would be less expensive, while possessing none of the dangerous side effects of the drug. Our own experience has been that charcoal is a valuable part of a total cholesterol reducing program but that long-term lifestyle changes must be maintained to permanently reduce high cholesterol.

For more information contact:

Uchee Pines Lifestyle Center, 30 Uchee Pines Road 75, Seale, Alabama 36875
Tel. 334-855-4764



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