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By now, you’ve probably encountered a dark-coloured ice cream, cronut or face mask on your Instagram feed, as activated charcoal continues to make its rounds as a superstar ingredient in everything from water filters and detox recipes to beauty products and toothpaste. As it turns out, activated charcoal may also hold some important health benefits.

Here are a few of this black magic’s special powers:

It’s the perfect poison antidote

Due to its porous nature and negative electrical charge, activated charcoal can bind to a vast variety of drugs and toxins in the digestive tract, preventing them from absorbing into the bloodstream and safely escorting them out of the body.

It can also absorb harmful bacteria and toxins before they have a chance to make you sicker, which helps a great deal in cases of food poisoning.

It’s a natural detox

Activated charcoal supplements, or charcoal-infused drinks and food (yes, that black ice cream is actually good for you), can detoxify and cleanse your body by removing toxins, chemicals, and pesticides.

Studies also show that activated charcoal can improve kidney function by taking on the burden of urinary urea removal, and it can lower cholesterol levels by absorbing bile salts.

DIY Deodorant

Activated charcoal’s powerful deodorising properties make it perfect for neutralising those smelly gym bags, shoes, and fridges.

It’s good for the gut

If taken an hour or so before a rich meal, activated charcoal can help alleviate digestive discomfort by binding gas-producing food by-products in the gut.

It’s also a beauty product

Using activated charcoal as an internal detoxifying agent can undoubtedly get rid of some of the toxins that can contribute to acne and other skin issues, but topical use (it’s a popular ingredient in face masks) can also quell inflammation, soothe irritation, and draw bacteria, impurities, and other unwanted substances out of pores to reveal radiant skin.

Similarly, activated charcoal can help to remove chemicals and product buildup that can leave hair looking dull and lifeless and can soothe itchy and irritated scalps. To use as a periodic deep-cleaning treatment, just add a teaspoon of powder to your regular shampoo, wash, and rinse thoroughly.

It’s anti-antibiotics

Although sometimes necessary, antibiotics can also wipe out all the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract, leaving your gut environment decimated. In fact, just one course of antibiotics can mess up the microbial balance of your microbiome for up to an entire year!

Preliminary research shows that particular time-release forms of activated charcoal could “soak up” extra antibiotics in the large intestine before they wipe out delicate gut bacteria. In fact, in one study, taking activated charcoal in addition to antibiotics protected more than 90% of the bacterial species that were negatively affected in subjects who only consumed antibiotics.

It’s good for the grin

Activated charcoal powder can adsorb bad bacteria, plaque, chemicals, and toxins that could be contributing to microbial imbalance, decay, staining, bad breath, gum irritation, and sensitivity. What’s more, activated charcoal promotes an alkaline oral environment, which counteracts the acidity that can erode enamel. Over several uses, activated charcoal will begin to clean and lift stains from teeth, revealing a whiter, brighter, healthier smile.

For some extra gut support, check out the Releaf Pharmaceuticals Probiotics range, which includes Releaf Probiotic 12-Strain, Releaf Probiotic Melt 12-strain, Releaf Probiotic Active 12-strain and Releaf Probiotic Kids Chews, all of which may help improve the microbial balance in the human intestines and thereby the functioning of the digestive tract/gut.

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