Must-Haves of Travel: Activated Charcoal

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Activated charcoal FTW

Activated charcoal FTW

After reading an article by fellow Brooklynite Jenny on Healthy Crush about activated charcoal, I had to try it.

Activated charcoal is made by burning something carbon-based, like wood or coconut shells to remove all of the oxygen. What’s left is a highly absorbent material filled with millions of tiny pores that trap and bind gas and toxins and can carry thousands of times its weight.

That’s really cool.

It comes in capsules and looks like this:

Activated charcoal capsules

Activated charcoal capsules

Uses for activated charcoal

And it has a ton of uses for the constant traveler:

  • Helps with gas and bloating from airplane/hotel food
  • Can help fight jet lag
  • Helps to normalize your system after eating low-quality or questionable food
  • Carries out toxins
  • Particularly helpful after drinking too much alcohol (*raises hand* oops!)
  • Combats cellular damage and allergic reactions
  • Good for cellular health, heart health, gas, bloating, detoxification, digestion issues, and anti-aging

I pop a capsule after I’ve eaten something that doesn’t sit quite right, or drink a little too much. Within 5-10 minutes, my system actually feels flushed. I’ve gone from very queasy to feeling normal, which is incredible.

If you have a sensitive tummy, you know that long flights and airplane food can be a shock to your system. I haven’t had the chance to try activated charcoal on such a flight yet – but I’ll be sure to toss a few into my bag just in case.

You can also mix with it with clay and baobab oil for a homemade facial that cleans and moisturizes your skin.

You can… brush your teeth with it?

And – get this – you can use it to brush your teeth!

Activated charcoal as a tooth whitener

Activated charcoal as a tooth whitener

I know it sounds super weird – and looks slightly gross – but it really works!

But don’t do it too much or for too long because tooth enamel is porous and you don’t want to overexpose.

I broke open an activated charcoal capsule into a dish, wet my toothbrush, took a deep breath, and started brushing.

My mouth looked like the image above and I had a moment where I thought, “What the hell have I gotten myself into now?”

But afterward, my teeth looked visibly whiter – and felt very, very clean.

Now, I brush with activated charcoal every week or so. And it still feels amazing every time!

One really specific use that might save your life

Because activated charcoal is so highly absorbent, you can use it to suck out venom after a bite/sting (in conjunction with other medical care, of course).

In my online wanderings, I found that people who live in places with sting-y or bite-y creatures (think scorpions, wasps, bees, snakes, spiders) keep activated charcoal on hand at all times to use as a poultice.  If you break open the capsule and put it on the affected area, the charcoal works instantly to start binding with and pulling out the venom.

For this reason, you can also use it when you touch poisonous plants like poison ivy or oak. It helps with swelling and itchiness right away.

If you’re planning a hike or trip where poisonous plants or bugs/bees might live, it would be a good idea to have activated charcoal as a complement to your other precautions, especially if you’re highly allergic!

I’m definitely not a medical expert, but it seems like activated charcoal is a versatile substance that can help in a lot of ways.

It’s been used in hospital rooms to help with poisoning for decades.

Other sources

Check out these articles to read more about activated charcoal:

My bounty

My bounty

Here’s the activated charcoal I got from Amazon.com – be sure to read the many reviews and check out the customer images and videos!

Bottom line

I’m always looking for new ways to add more natural remedies to replace products laden with chemicals or things I don’t understand and can’t pronounce.

Along with coconut oil and apple cider vinegar, I’ve started exploring the uses and benefits of activated charcoal.

It’s a powerful material that binds to gases and toxins and can alleviate bloating, gas, and general queasiness. It’s also surprisingly effective at whitening teeth, and helps with jet lag.

Finally, it promotes cellular health, heart health, and anti-aging. Very cool!

The best way to use it is after you’ve eaten something that isn’t sitting well. Or after you’ve had a drink too many. You can also take a capsule when you arrive in a new time zone to help reset your body after a long flight. Or after a trip away from home as an easy general detox.

Have you heard of – or do you currently use – activated charcoal? Does it sound like something you’d try? 

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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