Though I hope you’ll never need either of these essentials, there are two items, ones which you may never have heard of, I believe every first aid kit should be stocked with: activated charcoal and yunnan baiyo. Between various cuts, upset stomachs, and hangovers, activated charcoal and yunnan baiyo have saved the day for my family upon several occasions. Here is what you need to know:
I always keep capsules of activated charcoal at home for emergencies. There have been a couple times (like the time I got food poisoning or that time my dog ate a poisonous bougainvillea flower) when I used activated charcoal to quickly remedy the problem. Activated charcoal has been used by emergency trauma centers worldwide. It works by trapping toxins or poison in its millions of pores through the entire length of the stomach and small and large intestines preventing them from being reabsorbed by the body by flushing them out. In fact, it is estimated activated charcoal can reduce absorption of poisonous substances by up to 60%. It’s inexpensive, odorless, and tasteless, and absolutely should not be confused with BBQ charcoal! You should be able to find it at most health food stores or even some health-conscious grocery stores in the supplement section or online. Drink lots of water throughout the day when you take it, as it can dehydrate the body if plenty of water isn’t consumed.
Top 10 Activated Charcoal Uses
Emergency Toxin Removal
Hopefully, you or your loved ones will never ingest something poisonous, but it can happen. As mentioned above, I’ve used activated charcoal when I got food poisoning. Activated charcoal binds with most organic compounds, pesticides, mercury, fertilizers or bleach. It is also used by medics to combat accidental or purposeful overdose of drugs. Take the activated charcoal as soon as possible in these situations, definitely within an hour of ingestion. Call 911 in the event of an emergency as proper dosing is imperative. Remember to drink plenty of water in conjunction with taking the charcoal.
Alleviates Gas and Bloating
Feeling gassy or uncomfortable from a meal? Try taking activated charcoal, which binds any gas-causing byproducts in food that cause discomfort. Take activated charcoal before your meal if you know you’re going to eat something likely to cause gas or bloating.
Treats Alcohol Poisoning and Can Prevent Hangovers
While activated charcoal does not absorb alcohol, most alcohol is not consumed in its pure form. It’s often mixed with chemical fillers or artificial sweeteners. Activated charcoal will work to remove these toxins that contribute to poisoning in the body. Some studies have also shown it can greatly reduce blood alcohol concentrations.
Toxic mold can grow in our bodies even without us knowing it. Flooding, leaks or poor ventilation in the home (especially in rooms like the bathroom, laundry room, or basements) allow mold to thrive. As a result, mold can live in the body and can cause people to suffer from depression, decreased brain function, heart disease, liver or kidney dysfunction, impaired immune system function, severe respiratory issues, headaches, irritated eyes, or vomiting. While some mold is clearly visible, some mold is not, and can be tested by a professional if your family is experiencing symptoms like wheezing, watery eyes, rashes, coughing, or headaches that can’t be explained in other ways. (Source: Chronic Fatigue and Nutrition, Dr. Axe )
Whenever I’m traveling somewhere I know I won’t have access to clean, purified water, I always carry activated charcoal sticks. You can put these sticks in water to trap any solvents, pesticides, industrial waste, or other chemicals without changing the taste of the water. Drinking plenty of water is incredibly important, but make sure you’re drinking clean water. Even our typical tap water is toxic and contains plenty of chemicals, fluoride, and toxins (source: Dr. Axe, PublicIntegrity.org). Look for activated charcoal filters to purify the water throughout your home or even countertop models.
Looking for an inexpensive, quick way to get pearly white teeth? Just dip your wet toothbrush in activated charcoal powder and brush your teeth with it a few times a week to reduce stains and improve the pH balance in the mouth. It will also absorb plaque and help prevent cavities, bad breath, and gum disease. When brushing with activated charcoal, I like to put paper towels down around the sink, as the powder will stain clothes and grout. Brush your teeth with it, sip and swish some water, then spit and rinse out your mouth until your spit is clear again. No need to brush with toothpaste after. Continue this practice a few times a week for best results. That being said, if you have porcelain veneers, caps, or crowns, activated charcoal can cause staining. (Source: Wellness Mama)
In traditional Chinese medicine, yunnan baiyo has been used for centuries to stop bleeding externally or internally. Interestingly, this medicine was a staple of every Chinese soldier’s first aid kit and was later used extensively during the Vietnamese War due to its incredible effectiveness in treating battlefield injuries (Source). Its reputation is equal to that of penicillin in the US. I don’t know all the ingredients, but it is said the main ingredients are two types of ginseng and several members of the yam family (Source: IVC Journal).
Yunnan baiyo can be taken orally or topically, depending on what you need it for. For external cuts, I just mix some powder with a tiny bit of water or saliva to make a paste which I apply directly to the cut. You will be amazed by the swiftness which it works. The powder is even used by many veterinarians (I actually first learned of this medicine when my dog had a bad cut). Some people, however, can be allergic. I recommend consulting a professional before using it so you can get familiar with dosages. Pick up yunnan baiyo from your local Chinese herbalist or order it online.
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