Coconut charcoal benefits for health are due to the fact that it helps adsorb toxins, pollutants, and more.
As you might imagine, these benefits can help multiple systems in the body, especially the gut. This is true if it is used correctly.
And one main benefit of using coconut charcoal is that it is more ecologically friendly than other forms of activated charcoal.
In this post, learn about the health benefits of coconut shell charcoal as well as its potential side effects.
Table of Contents
What is coconut charcoal?
Like other kinds of activated charcoal, coconut charcoal is made by exposing coconut shell fibers to high temperatures without oxygen [R].
This process activates the coconut shells. The heat produces charcoal by making it porous and able to adsorb unwanted compounds. In fact, activated charcoal has an adsorptive surface area of 1000m2 per gram [R].
It is made up of activated carbon at this point.
Adsorption by charcoal by activated carbon means that it soaks up toxins and unwanted particles. They become trapped within the charcoal.
The charcoal and toxins are then passed out of the body naturally.
History of activated charcoal
Charcoal has been used medicinally since at least 1500 B.C. Here it was used for digestive system issues. For example, it was used for treating an acidic stomach and abdominal gas.
Hippocrates was also known to use it for many conditions, including epilepsy and vertigo.
It was commonly used to help purify water by ancient cultures as well, such as the Hindus. To this day it is used for water filtration and health conditions.
Even further back, it was used to help extract minerals from ores. Not surprisingly, it is also used it as a pigment. Evidence shows it was used for writing as far back as 30,000 B.C.
Coconut charcoal benefits overview
Coconut charcoal benefits can be dramatic for some people if it is used correctly. Its main benefits are for reducing toxins in the body, reducing intestinal gas, and reducing digestive distress.
There are countless reviews that support the research related to charcoal’s benefits for digestion too.
And for me personally, I couldn’t agree more. It can be a great way to feel better, digestively speaking.
But, pay close attention to the cautions section. This is because it isn’t meant to be used without some careful consideration.
Coconut charcoal benefits for detoxification
Overdoses of medications and toxins can be severe and life-threatening. Due to its impressive adsorptive capacity, charcoal can help reduce the amount of these toxins that enter your body.
That is why charcoal is used in emergency medicine for overdoses and exposures to toxins of some kinds.
Activated charcoal from coconut is beneficial for an overdose of various substances and toxins, including [R]:
- paracetamol (acetaminophen)
- cardiac glycosides (digoxin and oleander)
- tricyclic antidepressants
Keeping coconut charcoal on hand is never a bad idea. But you must always immediately seek emergency medical attention if you have had an exposure or overdose.
Coconut charcoal benefits in reducing gas and SIBO symptoms
Not only does coconut charcoal absorb toxins, but it is also able to absorb gas. This can be very helpful for reducing gut pain.
Using activated carbon in the form of activated charcoal reduces excessive abdominal gas production in people who have excessive gas [R].
Additionally, in people with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), using activated charcoal was effective at reducing abdominal pain. In fact, pain reduction was better than antibiotic therapy.
The charcoal group also had better quality of life scores than the people receiving antibiotics in this study [R].
Another clinical study showed that using charcoal powder reduced the production of gas in the gut compared to a placebo [R].
The production of hydrogen gas was reduced. So coconut charcoal may be especially useful for people with SIBO.
Reviews of Coconut Charcoal Benefits for Gas and Digestive Health
Coconut charcoal reviews on various websites, including Amazon, are overwhelmingly positive. The vast majority of users state that they feel much better. Specifically, they have less gas, less bloating, less nausea, and overall improved wellness.
Some people take it when they overindulge in less healthy foods to feel better and to reduce the toxic burden of these foods. Still, others feel like it helps them clear a food sensitivity exposure. They recover from exposure to gluten much more quickly than without it.
I definitely agree with the reviewers. I felt better within the same day of taking it for the first time and I felt pretty good before then. The kind I’m taking is Bulletproof Activated Coconut Charcoal, which has impressive reviews from thousands of reviewers.
Specifically, I had less gas and definitely an overall calming feeling in the belly, which is hard to quantify. Bowel movements are definitely right on track too. In addition to my usual probiotics, gut-healthy supplements like colostrum, a gut-healing diet, vitamin D, and beef organs, I feel like I can conquer the world.
There is no doubt in my mind that I will continue to use this for about 1 week every month or so.
Coconut charcoal benefits diarrhea
Charcoal coconut supplements may also help treat diarrhea because they adsorbs toxins. It also has very few side effects compared to standard anti-diarrheal medications [R].
Reduced diarrhea symptoms are a benefit of using activated charcoal when used with a type of chemotherapy drug called irinotecan [R].
Another study showed that using activated charcoal was more effective than antimicrobials for treating diarrhea in calves [R].
Diarrhea due to infectious campylobacter infection was also decreased in animals when using activated charcoal. It also helped eliminate the infection [R].
In fact, many reviewers state that using coconut charcoal works better for their diarrhea symptoms than anti-diarrheal medications.
Keep in mind that it is meant to be used short-term for this purpose.
May reduce constipation
Activated carbon may even help reduce constipation symptoms in some people, but not all.
Giving activated charcoal reduces IBS symptoms, including constipation, and reduces these symptoms. Impressively it reduced these symptoms by 60 percent compared to 9 percent in the placebo group [R].
Impressively it reduced the severity of constipation by 80.70%. It also reduced the sensation of straining by 72.69%. The feeling of incomplete evacuation was reduced by 71.87% [R].
It is hard to say how much of the benefit of this combination was due to the activated charcoal, however. Theoretically, it may help some people with constipation because it reduces gas. Doing so may help increase the muscle movements of the gut. Also, it may help improve gut bacteria.
Occasionally, using charcoal can cause constipation, but it usually happens when using high doses [R].
Several studies that date back to the 1970s and 1980s show that activated charcoal reduces levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
However, the use of activated charcoal for cholesterol fell by the wayside with the emergence of statin drugs.
Coconut charcoal for kidney health
There is some evidence that using activated charcoal may help reduce kidney toxins in the blood. These toxins include blood urea nitrogen.
In elderly adults who were avoiding dialysis, the use of large doses of charcoal even reduced blood levels of creatinine [R]. However, more research is needed in this area.
Using coconut charcoal may also reduce itching in people who have chronic kidney disease. The research is still preliminary [R].
It also may keep phosphorus levels from rising too high in people with stage 3-4 chronic kidney disease. Fascinatingly, it may also reduce the risk of hardening of the arteries too [R].
It may help heal the gut
Using activated charcoal such as coconut charcoal may reduce inflammation in the body, especially the gut [R].
A research study shows that activated charcoal has anti-inflammatory effects. It also helps promote healing of the gut by increasing tight junction proteins in the intestine [R].
Activated charcoal works to help with gut healing and reduce leaky gut in people with chronic kidney disease as well. However, more research is needed [R].
Reviews of coconut charcoal are overwhelmingly positive for improving digestive conditions. This includes IBS, diarrhea, stomach aches, and more. However, research needs to catch up to all of the anecdotal reports.
May reduce gut infections
Coconut charcoal benefits may extend to reducing infections. Many people who travel abroad use activated charcoal to prevent traveler sickness.
Research also supports the benefit of activated charcoal as well. Harmful bacteria such as E. coli are adsorbed by activated charcoal. Also, the normal gut bacteria is relatively unaffected by it [R].
Using activated charcoal may even reduce the gut damage of certain kinds of antibiotics [R].
The occasional use of coconut charcoal to alleviate digestive distress is safe. However, much more research is needed in this area.
Coconut charcoal benefits the body by reducing heavy metals
Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium can cause damage to the body and the brain. They silently can enter the body through exposure. This includes air pollution, toxic farming practices, and more.
According to the EPA, most people have trace levels of mercury in their blood. Mercury is a known neurotoxin, and there is no safe level of mercury in the body for this reason.
Using coconut charcoal to reduce heavy metals in the body is not a new concept. In fact, activated charcoal binds to lead, cadmium, and mercury [R].
It may even reduce the kidney damage of these toxins [R].
So, the use of activated charcoal could be a very useful tool to keep the body and mind healthier. It does so by reducing heavy metal burdens such as mercury [R].
Helps heal wounds
Activated charcoal dressings may help speed up the healing process of chronic wounds as well [R].
In fact, using an activated charcoal dressing worked to help heal stubborn wounds. It worked even when the people failed to respond to other antimicrobials [R].
This is because activated charcoal reduces the number of bacteria in wounds [R].
It may even help a rare condition that affects the skin called erythropoietic protoporphyria. This condition causes itching, burning, and photosensitivity of the skin [R].
Benefits for skin health
Many skincare products now include coconut shells made into activated charcoal in them.
Although anecdotal, many people claim that they have fewer acne outbreaks and smoother skin. This is because charcoal has natural antimicrobial effects. It also removes toxins from the skin.
Charcoal skin products may even help reduce the pain and inflammation of insect bites and exposure to poison ivy as well. It works by drawing out toxins.
Activated coconut charcoal works to purify water and has long been used for this purpose [R].
You will find activated charcoal in all kinds of water filtration systems. You probably have some in your house right now and don’t even know it.
The use of activated charcoal also absorbs excess nitrate from water [R].
How to use coconut activated charcoal
When it comes to charcoal, coconut charcoal is a good choice. This is because it is derived from coconut husks that otherwise would be thrown out.
Most people use coconut charcoal pills in the form of capsules. You can also mix activated charcoal into beverages too.
It’s a good idea to take activated charcoal at least an hour before meals too.
Some people even add activated charcoal to foods.
You can make a homemade skin mask by opening up a couple of charcoal capsules. Then you can mix it into your favorite skin mask.
It is usually best to follow the instructions on the coconut charcoal supplement label when using them as a supplement for best results.
And you will want to make sure you drink plenty of water with your charcoal supplement.
Last but not least, remember that using coconut charcoal is for short-term use and not as a long-term daily add-in.
Coconut charcoal cautions
Coconut charcoal has some powerful benefits for the removal of some types of toxins in the body.
However, coconut charcoal powder is meant to be used as a short-term remedy. It is not meant to be taken long-term unless under your doctor’s guidance.
This is because it is powerful for adsorbing and may adsorb healthy compounds too.
It can also reduce the absorption of some medications.
For this reason, you should always take it separately from meals, supplements, and medications.
And you will want to make sure you have your doctor’s or healthcare provider’s approval before taking it.
Using coconut charcoal turns bowel movements black so you should be aware of that. Occasionally, it can cause nausea and vomiting in people, although most people feel it alleviates these.
Some people have slow bowel movements if they use coconut charcoal. However, this is usually because they aren’t drinking enough liquid with the charcoal.
You shouldn’t use charcoal if you have intestinal or stomach blockage.
There are lots of medications that interact with coconut charcoal so make sure to double-check this with your doctor.
Taking a coconut charcoal supplement can help reduce digestive distress in a number of ways. It helps to reduce gas and bloating.
Additionally, it helps remove toxins like heavy metals from the body.
Just make sure that you take it at least one hour before meals and check with your healthcare provider before starting to take coconut charcoal capsules.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 23 years as well as a book author of the new book Gut Fix and The Whole Body Guide to Gut Health, Heidi has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. She has researched supplements and natural medicine throughout her career. One of her biggest loves is helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.