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Biochar for humans?

 
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Just another one of those What-If questions.

Reading more about the benefits of feeding biochar to livestock, I strayed to wondering if it would be beneficial if ingested by humans and household pets?

I know that activated charcoal is used medically in poisoning cases to absorb the toxins, but what about small amounts on a regular and daily basis?

I've read that livestock given biochar have increased health, production and weight gain, so why wouldn't it be good for humans and dogs and cats, too? (Well, most of us wouldn't need the weight gain.). But I'm just not finding much on it for the hooman beans.

Any thoughts or links?
 
pollinator
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Can have unwanted side effects

https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/charcoal-activated-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20070087

Also important - if you take other medications, charcoal can prevent them from being absorbed by the body.

 
pollinator
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You have to be careful too with any claims about livestock weight gain because it really is the only selling point they have in luring us farmers. If I gave my sheep everything that possibly contributed to "weight gain", I would have lambs going to market at 7 days old.
 
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I use activated charcoal, I am careful not to get the type made from petroleum products.  I have hickory in the house right now, I have also seen bamboo, coconut, pecan, and oak.

Not sure how exactly it differs from biochar. I know the "activated part" means "ends up with itty bitty holes" that is how it absorbs so much. Would love it if one of the biochar folks put some under a microscope to check for holes. Personally, I'd rather use biochar if it's the same thing, as I can make that instead of buying it.

I take activated charcoal fairly often, once to several times a week, for medical reasons, and it does well with me and I'm hypersensitive to everything, if anyone was going to have a bad reaction, it would be me.  I use it to calm down my guts, I took a batch of antibiotics last year that clashed badly with me, and I took stomach damage, and the gut bacteria levels are all messed up. When I can tell I'm out of balance again, I do charcoal, then later that day, probiotics. It seems to be working, I can correct it quickly as soon as I notice the imbalance. I am careful to keep it away from my vitamins, as it absorbs them too.
 
pollinator
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I take charcoal a lot when I'm traveling. I have some food sensitivities, and it goes a long way toward controlling the symptoms.

I wonder how much that plays a part in helping livestock gain weight? They can't really tell us if they've got acid reflux or mild queasiness. But those things would definitely decrease their appetites, even if it wasn't severe enough to be obvious.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Also important - if you take other medications, charcoal can prevent them from being absorbed by the body.



Such a good point! I am a biochemist and didn't immediately pick up on that. Will stand in the corner and reflect....
 
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There is charcoal at pharmacy for gastric issues.
I used to make my own charcoal by burning a piece of bread and eat it.
 
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There are health professionals like David "avocado" WOlfe who advocate consuming charcoal and biochar.  I think that there is a place for it, but I would want to be careful about exactly how I would be consuming it.  I make my own biochar, so it wouldn't be hard for me to do, and it wouldn't contain petroleum,  but I am cautious at this point personally.  Not negative, just cautious.
John S
PDX OR
 
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Charcoal for humans.  Yes.

Biochar for humans.  No.

Once you've inoculated charcoal with compost, don't eat it.  That's an invitation for severe sickness or worse.  But straight-up charcoal is benign.

 
pollinator
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Travis Johnson wrote:You have to be careful too with any claims about livestock weight gain because it really is the only selling point they have in luring us, farmers. If I gave my sheep everything that possibly contributed to "weight gain", I would have lambs going to market at 7 days old.



I love those adds. They are like "We fed our animals with Mama's biochar (mama: arbitrary brand name) and it results in 25% weight gain! Let me show you how." ..mixes char with molasses.. "animals love it!!" Sure they do! You are mixing it with candy! And side by side trials with fed with Mama's biochar (and MOLASSES!!) and with no supplements. Let me ask where is the trial when you feed animals with only molasses? It will result in weight gain when you feed them almost-pure sugar with some char on top. The same goes for humans. You want to put on weight, then eat sugars. You won't be able to feed molasses to a bodybuilder trying hard to keep his fat ratio below 5%. Char does have an impact on weight gain, not 25% though. More like 0.5-1.5% depending on which animal you are feeding to (helps the gut microbiota). Also, you might want to feed char to chickens to limit problems with manure, etc.

The same goes for many youtube experiments. Plants supplemented with biochar (char+minerals+manure+all that biology) vs no supplements. If you want to see the real impact; the test needs to be biochar [char+(all that)] vs (all that) vs each of (that) vs only char vs none. This is where the fun begins. Comparing results are not that easy.

Back to the OG's question. When you eat biochar, you are also getting (all that) with it. That's not good as Marco said. When you eat char, I can speculate that it will be somewhere between char-biochar but more on the char side. It will suck up most of the stuff like char do (as Tyler said) and then will be excreted. If you are poisoned or you eat something your body is not accustomed to, it will suck the bad stuff out of your body. There are two alternative ways to deal with that (not poison obviously), stuff like yogurt (or kefir/kephir) to boost good bacteria populations or spices to kill the incoming bad guys.
Let us assume char in your gut system is on the biochar side. I don't think it will have a substantial impact on someone who has good health (comes with good gut health). The reason why I think like that biochar does not have much of a substantial impact on a healthy system. It helps to get unhealthy systems back to balance, systems are forced out of balance to back to stability. When you have good soil (mature soil to be more precise) and do not have an outside impact to force it out of balance (such as constant rain, high temperatures), biochar doesn't have much of an impact. I believe the same goes for ourselves.

I eat a piece of char after each batch I make though. I like the cringing sound it makes. Reminds me of those exploding sugars back when we were kids (popping pacito/magic pops).
 
Mihai Ilie
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There is something from charcoal making that most of us probably eat,the liquid smoke and smoked food.
Also wood vinnegar ( liquid smoke) ive read on wikipedia that it was used in the US instead of vinegar.

But most amazing thing thats edible and related to charcoal its the chocolate with hummic acid( wood vinnegar) and the hummic acid is also sold as pills in pharmacyes .
 
pollinator
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I think any issues with ingesting charcoal, apart from the unintended uptake of medication and nutrients, would have to do with a microbiological draw down similar to what you see in the soil should you amend with uninoculated activated charcoal. The native microbes migrate to the new living space and breed up, but in the meantime, they stop doing what they were doing in the soil because you've effectively increased the surface area and the microbe carrying capacity of the soil.

I think that if we could culture healthy gut bacteria and propagate them in activated charcoal and some kind of food, probably the agar stuff used in petri dishes, then the human gut biochar might be beneficial to humans. Furthermore, the biochar might act as a time-release capsule, allowing the microbes to get past the stomach and down into the intestines, should that be where they're lacking.

But yeah, if it's been in a compost pile, it shouldn't be eaten.

-CK
 
John Suavecito
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The main ways I've seen it taken is as a chelator or detoxifier. It makes sense that it could remove heavy metals or other toxins.  On the same note, it could remove potassium, phosphorus, calcium and other useful minerals from your body.
John S
PDX OR
 
Ellendra Nauriel
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s. ayalp wrote:


The same goes for many youtube experiments. Plants supplemented with biochar (char+minerals+manure+all that biology) vs no supplements. If you want to see the real impact; the test needs to be biochar [char+(all that)] vs (all that) vs each of (that) vs only char vs none. This is where the fun begins. Comparing results are not that easy.




I don't tend to hang out on Youtube very much, are people in the videos really only comparing biochar to gardens with no amendments whatsoever? That seems like bad science.

I just recently applied for a research grant to study the effects of different types of biochar on plants. My control patch is going to have the soil inoculated with the same mix that's used on the biochar, and be amended with the same kinds (and amounts) of manure and compost. I won't have a separate control patch for each individual amendment, but having the biochar be the only difference seemed like the obvious way to test it.

I'm having a little trouble processing the idea of the "all - vs - none" approach you describe. You don't learn by skewing the results!

gift
 
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