Lets include Diatomaceous Earth as well – it’s good for the same task too.
When it comes to detoxification we’re often told to use these products because they’re supposed to be good at removing toxins from the body.
The most important thing to know about them all is that they stay in the gut only so this is the only place they’ll be capturing anything. But they’re really good at it and have the marvellous good character to prefer grabbing things we don’t want around in there.
The 3 compounds have similar physical properties; a porous open structure with a large internal surface area capable of attracting and holding a wide range of substances.
Activated Charcoal – charcoal that’s had strong steam treatment to clean it and create a huge internal surface area. Amazingly huge; 1000 square metres for a single gram (click images to see full size).
Zeolite – a volcanic ash layer which has reacted with alkaline ground water over eons of time to form a porous cage like structure. Said to be excellent at attracting and holding heavy metals but also well known to contain toxic metal themselves. Zeolites are industrially manufactured in large quantities so as to be pure with precisely known properties but the zeolites being sold as detox supplements seem to be volcanic.
Diatomaceous Earth – diatoms are a species of algae, diatomaceous earth is an ancient deposit of their skeletons. These also have a large porous internal surface area. Generally available as a white powder, the best supplements are a liquid mix for ease of use.
So, what can they do for us?
Activated charcoal can be a first line detox compound for emergencies like diarrhea or poisoning.
Chronic long term toxins to worry about are heavy metals plus pesticides, insecticides and other oil based poisons. Everyone is exposed to them and they’re mostly too complex for the liver to process for excretion so continue in circulation until absorbed, usually into fatty tissue including the brain. These toxins need to be captured inside cells and in the blood plasma, brought to the liver, processed and dumped through the bile. Detoxing at this level needs special compounds to capture and carry the poisons to the liver and must be a long gentle process; these toxins should never be thrown in quantity at the liver and kidneys.
A toxin binding compound in the bowel is a necessary part of a detox program. We want expelled toxins to keep on moving out, not be re-absorbed by the digestion. Here is the key role for activated charcoal, zeolite and diatomaceous earth.
For a proper, long term detoxification program its probably best to use smaller amounts of activated charcoal plus diatomaceous earth. There’s enough uncertainty around zeolites to justify avoiding them.