Charcoal Experiences

Charcoal Uses

A Modern Old-Fashioned




     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 to unsophisticated) to continue their practice.

     Charcoal seems to fit this category.  In bygone days people understood that cleansing the body system 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 charcoals 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 the 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. rates activated charcoal effective in adsorbing many poison, gases and drugs.  In fact it has been called “The Universal Antidote”.

     Since charcoal works by adsorption (as apposed 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 “simply soaked up”, or absorbed.  Of course activated charcoal is not the only adsorbent in the world; it simply is one of the most powerful—certainly for the money.  Most other adsorbents available have a price tag 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.  Studies and case histories, both with animals and 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 pollutant and toxins, as well as a 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 it’s 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 sever swelling and trouble breathing.  The physician in the case warned that the 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 reaction and pain had disappeared, leading the woman to theorize that everything was back to normal.  She removed the poultice, but within ten 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, 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 causes 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 started 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 event, 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 was becoming increasingly clear that even though she was alive, her liver was 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 powder 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.”

     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 1 Tablespoon) of activated charcoal three times daily.  Another study conducted by the national Institute of Public Health in Finland, 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 the charcoal therapy is not as effective, it certainly would be considerably less expensive, while possessing non 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.

One Last Word

     As you have read from this paper, activated charcoal is a powerful adsorbent.  It will adsorb, and render useless, most (if not all) drugs it comes in contact with.  Therefore, if you are taking any medication you do not wish to have adsorbed, internally or externally you must wait at least an hour (preferably two) before using the charcoal to allow the drug to get into the bloodstream.

Uchee Pines Lifestyle Center