Top 10 Benefits & Uses Of Activated Charcoal

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Using activated charcoal to promote better health is a popular and successful approach to natural healing, but there are some potential side effects of which you should be aware of before starting to use it.

What is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is a form of carbon that has been processed to decrease pore size and increase surface area, along with providing a negative charge on the substance. It can be made from various substances, but it is usually one or a combination of coconut shells, olive pits, bone char, and peat or sawdust, among others. Basically, this substance is intended to trap toxins and waste products, without being absorbed or broken down by the body. At that point, the charcoal can pass through the body and be excreted as waste. [1]

While eating regular charcoal briquettes would be dangerous and ineffective, this is a different type of charcoal that is safe to consume. It is best to use natural sources of this charcoal, such as coconut shells. The surface of this charcoal has a slightly negative charge, which is able to attract positively-charged toxins and waste products in the body.

Types of Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal typically comes in the form of:

  • Powder
  • Pills
  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Liquid suspensions

The activated carbon powder can be mixed into any number of products, including toothpaste.

Benefits of Activated Charcoal

The most important benefits of activated charcoal include its ability to whiten teeth, boost oral health, cure hangovers, enhance skin health, reduce inflammation, and improve cardiovascular function, among others.

A wooden spoon with activated charcoal powder resting on charcoal pieces

Activated charcoal is only effective against toxins only in certain circumstances. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Whitens Teeth

Using activated carbon to whiten teeth is quite popular. Activated charcoal pills can absorb many micro-particles and toxins in the mouth that can cause cavities, bad breath, and other common oral diseases.

Prevents Bloating

During the digestive process, there can be some byproducts of metabolism that can cause flatulence and bloating. By using activated carbon pills after a large meal, you can decrease the amount of bloating and cramping that you may feel. [2]

Hangover Cure

When you imbibe alcohol too heavily, the buildup of toxins increases and may lead to the symptoms of a hangover. Drinking an activated charcoal suspension can help to speed the release of those toxins. It can also make your hangovers slightly more bearable. [3]

Boosts Heart Health

Numerous studies have found that using activated charcoal tablets on a regular basis helps to lower overall cholesterol levels and may elevate levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. This can lower your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, and coronary heart disease. [4]

Removes Poison

Activated carbon was traditionally used to alleviate poisoning caused by ingesting the toxin. If taken quickly enough, it is believed that this charcoal can absorb the poison before it can be digested or enter the bloodstream, thus avoiding a potentially fatal dose. [5]

Antiaging Effects

Toxins and chemicals that linger in the body will inevitably cause inflammation and strain on the immune system. In this way, activated carbon capsules act as an antioxidant. They protect the body from chronic stress, which can prevent wrinkles, blemishes, and age spots. [6]

Digestive Aid

Activated charcoal tablets are an ideal complement to a digestive cleanse diet, as you will stop adding more toxins to your system, while also helping to remove those already present. [7]

Hair Care

Studies have found that using activated charcoal topically on the hair and scalp, in the form of a mask, can pull toxins and waste products from your hair that makes the hair appear flat or oily, while also helping to prevent hair loss and dandruff. [8]

Prevents Kidney Diseases

The kidneys are a key component in the detoxifying processes of the body, and when it comes to kidney health, using this activated carbon can reduce the risk of developing kidney diseases. [9]

Lowers Inflammation

When topically applied to the skin, particularly on bug bites, activated charcoal can reduce inflammation and prevent infection. [10]


Activated charcoal has many uses and applications. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Mold cleansing
  • Air purifier
  • Eliminating fish odor syndrome

Activated Charcoal Dosage

If you want to begin using activated charcoal, it is important that you consume safe dosages only under medical supervision. However, the dosage may differ depending on the purpose of using this substance.

  • Pill/tablet/capsule: For general purposes, adults shouldn’t consume more than 250 mg in capsule or tablet form.
  • Liquid: When consuming this substance in a liquid suspension, the dosage may range between 25 and 50 grams.

Note: When used for poison removal, the dosage will be considerably higher.

Side Effects

While this substance can be hugely beneficial for overall health, there are some potential side effects to consider, such as:

Note: Experiencing black stools and a black tongue may also occur, but these are harmless, albeit surprising. If you have any sort of blockage or obstruction in your bowels, you should avoid using this substance. Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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