What Are the Real Benefits of Charcoal?
There has been a huge surge in the popularity of charcoal, so we felt it would make a great topic for a blog. Two particularly ‘trendy’ uses of this are the application of charcoal-based face masks and toothpaste. We take a look at the risks and rewards of using activated charcoal, especially within skin care and explore all eventualities in this post.
With all the hype surrounding this ingredient, understanding all elements, both positive and negative are important in giving you the totality of information to allow you to make an informed decision about whether using charcoal in your skincare and beyond is ultimately right for you.
In a recent statement that was released by the University of Michigan Health System (UHMS), they outline how activated charcoal has become a staple in modern medicine.
How Does It Work?
Activated charcoal is different to the type of charcoal you get domestically. Activated or Medicinal charcoal as it is also known is created in a completely airless environment. It is then ground down into a very fine powder which enables it to be easily absorbed into the body. It then chemically connects with a range of particles and gasses, without ever being absorbed into the body. It is this process which makes it ideal for connecting to toxins within the digestive tract, helping to transport them away from this area and out of the body completely. It is used in hospitals globally to treat overdoses or poisonings for this exact reason.
It is due to this ability to remove toxins that some of the trends you might have heard about, such as charcoal toothpaste or charcoal masks have become increasingly popular.
Below we will review the scientific research that digs a little deeper into the pros and cons of using activated charcoal.
Benefits and Risks of Using Activated Charcoal
You would assume that given the sheer volume of products available that are labeled as containing ‘charcoal,’ there would be extensive medical research to back up such claims.
For skincare in particular, rather worryingly, there is no scientific evidence to verify expectations. Irrespective of what you have seen online, there have not been any proven studies about this.
With regards to oral health; the same rules apply. The American Dental Association has expressed concerns over the fierce abrasiveness of charcoal toothpaste.
There is a lot of marketing hype around charcoal and weight loss. As we have already explained, the charcoal will connect with particles without the risk of absorption. This has then paved the way for a so-called unique selling point which means that charcoal can prevent fats and other substances from being absorbed into the body. Although in theory, this sounds great, there is no evidence to support this.
Although the results are promising in terms of helping those with high-cholesterol to stay in control. There is no long-term evidence to demonstrate the effects over time.
If you have stomach or gas concerns and are considering using charcoal as an effective solution to help you to eliminate intestinal gas, then please proceed with caution. UHMS has found evidence to prove and disprove that this is a genuine benefit of using activated charcoal.
For many years now, a detox is considered to be a classic way to rid the body of any toxins. Using charcoal for your detox is likely to have the opposite effect. Digestive health can be affected by prolonged use.
In summary, it seems the marketing is a lot stronger than the actual product itself. There seems to be no evidence to back up or advocate the use of charcoal in skincare or toothpaste. Our advice would be to do your own research, stick to healthy, organic, earthy products that align with your personal health goals.