Counseling Sheet

Charcoal - 2

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

Many old-fashioned remedies are out-of-date, not because they were ineffective, but because an art was required in their application and an amount of work required that most are unwilling to provide.

In bygone years, we had a different philosophy of healing. Previously, people depended on cleansing the body systems or stimulation of the physiological mechanism to provide healing. There are literally thousands of different mechanisms in the body which can be stimulated to promote healing of all kinds, from dandruff to diverticula; from slipped discs to breast tumors. The blood cells which are so effective in clearing inflammation or preventing infection can be stimulated by such simple means as taking a bath, exercising, or getting a massage. The activity of these cells can be inhibited by the use of both sugar and oil, articles of diet that should be omitted when one is fighting an infection. The circulation to a part can be stimulated through hot or cold applications made either to the part directly, or to some distant part. An example of the latter is the use of a hot foot bath for a headache, relieving the congestion of the head. This treatment may also be used for a stuffy nose, sore throat, dental pain, and other discomforts of the head and neck.

In our present age, modern pharmacology has made it possible to alter the body's biochemistry in such a way as to borrow strength from one system to help another system or organ. All of the strength borrowed, however, must be repaid. In some instances, one must continue paying back throughout the lifetime of the individual. It should always be considered a major therapeutic decision to take a drug; in the order of magnitude with major surgery. When a pharmaceutical agent is used, it is evidence that the user does not understand how to stimulate his physiological processes so as to encourage healing. The simple remedies, formerly called "rational therapy," are fully as effective as pharmaceuticals and avoid their hazards and side effects.

A method of assisting body cleansing is with charcoal. Charcoal grains have many crevices and corners that will hold onto toxic materials, making it a powerful adjunct to cleansing processes of the body. Charcoal has amazing ability to hold onto substances. A quart jar will hold only one quart of ammonia gas. However, if one quart of pulverized charcoal is exposed to ammonia gas, the quart of charcoal can be placed in a quart jar along with 80 quarts of ammonia gas. Strychnine has been fed to rats in lethal quantities so that 100% of the rats will be killed by the quantity of strychnine. But, if the rats are given charcoal before or immediately after the lethal dose of strychnine is given, 80% of the rats may be saved. Charcoal has been called the universal antidote.

Charcoal may be used internally or externally. For internal use, it is recommended that in any case of poisoning, whether mild or severe, autogenous or exogenous, charcoal be used as an immediate measure in combating the poisoning. This treatment has use in the case of eating too much, eating the wrong kind of foods, in the toxicity of flu, or any fever. Flatulence or abdominal discomfort, gas or pain, or a sour stomach may be treated effectively by the use of charcoal tablets.

Charcoal may be used on the skin as a poultice. One patient was known to be highly allergic to bee stings, with production of enormous swelling. Her father was a bee keeper, and she had had numerous bee stings throughout her childhood. With her last sting, she developed pleurisy with inability to take a deep breath lasting more than two hours. Her condition caused much anxiety, particularly since she was more than 45 miles from the nearest hospital at the time of the bee sting. A local physician told her that if she were ever stung again by a bee it could well result in a fatality. Upon hearing that news, she moved from her father's bee farm to a nearby city. For several years she avoided being stung. One morning about 8 AM, she encountered a bee in a closed area and received a sting on her thumb. Immediately, she began to break out in a sweat and have a headache and her thumb began to swell. She was able to walk to the home of a friend nearby who knew of charcoal remedies for bee stings. The charcoal was wet with water and rubbed into the skin in the area of the bee sting. Within 10 minutes after the application of the charcoal, the pain and headache were gone and the autonomic nervous system reaction of sweating had disappeared. A poultice was made of charcoal powder and water, spread on a paper towel, and applied to the hand. An empty bread bag was slipped over the poultice and held in place with tape. In about 4 hours, the woman decided to remove the poultice. Within 10 minutes of removing the poultice, all of the symptoms returned. The poultice was reapplied, kept on 4 more hours and removed with a second return of the symptoms. The poultice was again applied. The same thing occurred after 8 hours, and the poultice was once more reapplied. Four hours later, it was removed for the last lime, apparently having eliminated all of the toxic material from the thumb at that time. No swelling ever developed after the first 10 minutes.

A man with a history of such a severe case of poison ivy that he was hospitalized with IV fluids and cortisone for 5 weeks developed another case of poison ivy. He broke out all over, eyes swelled shut, fingers swelled straight out, and he was unable to easily bend his elbows because of the swelling. In the area of contact he had an open rash, and in other parts of the body had a generalized eczematoid rash. Charcoal poultices were placed all over his body, with the result that within 24 hours he was able to open his eyes sufficiently that he could see, and could close his fingers around the steering wheel of his car sufficiently to drive. He was given 8 charcoal tablets twice daily by mouth. Within 5 days, the swelling and rash had completely regressed. The family was highly impressed with the efficacy of the simple remedy.

Charcoal tablets may be used as throat lozenges, or as mouth lozenges in the case of mouth ulcers. A sore throat can be most effectively treated by a combination of a hot gargle, charcoal lozenges, and heating compresses to the throat (the subject of another article).

An occasional person will get a mild stomachache from charcoal, although most individuals find it to be soothing to the gastrointestinal tract. Charcoal will give an occasional person a mild case of constipation, due to inadequate water intake following the taking of charcoal. Such an individual may be given a simple enema of hot water to relieve the constipation.

In order to make a poultice for a bee sting, spider bite, or other venomous bites, simply dissolve a bit of charcoal powder or crunch up several charcoal tablets in plain water, spread the paste made thereby over a folded piece of facial tissue or paper towel, making the poultice fit the area to be treated, and mold the poultice over the area. Place a plastic piece, cut from an ordinary bread bag, large enough to overlap all sides at least one inch. Fix the poultice in place by an ace bandage or adhesive tape. A snug-fitting garment such as a knitted cap can be used over a charcoal compress on the eye, with a sweat shirt over a charcoal compress on the chest.

Slurry water can be made by mixing 1 tablespoon of charcoal to one quart of water, stirring until completely dissolved, allowing charcoal to settle, and pouring off the clear superficial layer of water. This can be used as a drink for individuals who get constipated from the whole charcoal.

The oral dosage is 8 tablets in the mid-morning and in the mid-afternoon. Food interferes with its effectiveness. One can buy both charcoal tablets and charcoal capsules. The capsules are roughly twice as potent as the tablets, being "activated." Drug stores or health food stores often carry charcoal tablets, capsules, or powder. Charcoal should not be taken regularly over long periods of time, as some nutrients may be adsorbed. We have seen no problems with its intermittent use for long periods, or with regular use for up to two weeks.

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