Topical uses of activated charcoal

Written by patricia neill
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Topical uses of activated charcoal
Activated charcoal can be found in most health food stores and at online retailers. (Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all knew the medical uses of charcoal. Activated charcoal, a finely ground charcoal powder that was exposed to a steam chamber, is a highly effective form of charcoal. Used topically, activated charcoal can be used for any number of skin problems, including in wound care, as treatment for insect bites and stings, to clear up conjunctivitis or an eyelid cyst, and it can even be used to treat a recalcitrant ear infection or abscessed tooth. Activated charcoal can absorb poisons and toxins, taking them up through permeable skin, and remove them from the body. For this and many other uses, a charcoal poultice is required.

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Charcoal Poultice

Topically, activated charcoal is most often used in a poultice, which is a paste of charcoal and flaxmeal added to hot water and spread on a porous cloth. The cloth is folded over the paste and placed on the part of the body where it is needed. Take 2 tbsp of activated charcoal, 2 tbsp of flax meal (available in most grocery and health food stores), add it to 5 or 6 tbsp of hot water to make a paste. This will make about a 6 inch by 6 inch poultice. Use larger amounts in the same ratio if needed for a larger poultice. Apply cling film over the cloth to hold it to the body and keep in the heat and moisture. Leave the poultice on for a few hours or overnight and remove it. Do not reuse the poultice once it has adsorbed toxins and impurities.

Skin Problems

Acne, rashes, bruises, poison ivy and other skin problems can all be effectively treated by charcoal poultices. Applying a charcoal poultice will draw the toxin, bacteria or poison up through the skin through the adsorbing action of the charcoal. Depending on the problem, multiple applications of a charcoal poultice may be needed.

Wound Care

Doctors used activated charcoal topically for wound care since ancient times. Charcoal poultices can reduce or get rid of the odour of infected wounds, diabetic ulcers or surgical infections and help with wound healing. With very foul smelling infections, some doctors recommend putting the charcoal with a few grains of rice into a salt shaker and sprinkling some directly on the wound with each bandage change. Charcoal itself is not absorbed or metabolised by the body, and it will not harm the wound.

Insect Bites

A nasty bite by a yellow jacket or fire ant is never pleasant, but a charcoal poultice can help. If the stinger is still in the wound, the charcoal will draw it out and relieve the pain and swelling. Leave the poultice on for as long as it takes, changing it after a few hours. People have reported using charcoal poultices for the excessively damaging and dangerous bite of a brown recluse spider (BRS) with effective results. The charcoal poultice must be applied quickly to have the best results.

Pink Eye/Eyelid Cyst

Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, can be treated using a warm, moist charcoal poultice placed over the affected eye. Eyelid cysts, or chalazions, can be eased or erased with a charcoal poultice as well. Any cyst or infection on the surface of the body can be treated topically with charcoal. Activated charcoal is inert; it can adsorb many times its weight of toxins, metals, poisons and drugs and remove them from the body. Its uses are myriad.

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