Amazing. Nothing short of amazing. Activated charcoal is really helping me sleep better by preventing waking up from feeling hot. It’s another winner in my small arsenal of remedies that actually work.
I’ve also had a big breakthrough in understanding how my system works. For the longest time I was blaming various foods for keeping me up at night by drawing a direct cause and effect between what I ate that day and how I felt and slept that night.This made me eliminate a ton of foods and shift from supplement to supplement.
This created immense confusion as I might have been fine on a supplement for a night or two and then have an awful night afterwards. I would almost always blame the effect on that supplement and quit it “just in case.” This really caused a lot of anxiety as I could have been taking and eating the right stuff but if I had a rough night I had to eliminate. But recently, I realized that it wasn’t one particular food that was causing me grief but the BUILD UP of various byproducts (metabolites) of digestion or pathogens in my gut.
Where the Build Up of Toxins Come From
How did I realize that I experience a build up of toxins that are preventing me from sleeping? By doing activated charcoal flushes. I started them because I’ve learned via genetic testing that I have a CBS gene mutation. The latter can contribute to sulfur sensitivity and ammonia toxicity because your body is not properly metabolizing certain compounds.
I had already suspected sulfur issues (most high sulfur foods could make me totally sleepless) and I had read that ammonia toxicity is a big factor in insomnia.
To make a long story short – charcoal flushes are often recommended as a “cleansing agent” for ammonia build-up as well as an array of other poisons created by bad gut bacteria (aldehydes), heavy metals, gluten and various environmental toxins. Charcoal is also used to relieve gas, bloating and gut inflammation.
At the core of almost all insomnia is either a gut inflammation or neuro-inflammation. Activated charcoal flushes can help with both by giving your immune system a break.
When gunk builds up in my system I usually start feeling hot at night. I’ll wake up around 1am from liver heat, take herbs fall asleep and wake up again at 2am or 3am and may not be able to fall back asleep no matter what. Heat is an alarm to our nervous system and you know that from those sleepless hot summer days. Our bodies like to stay cool in order to rest.
Inflammation produces heat and when it’s coming from your gut or overburdened liver then you are going to be hot and sleepless. The formula is simple – reducing inflammation means cooler body which means better sleep.
Since activated charcoal has an affinity for various things that produce inflammation it works to adsorb all those compounds and flush them out of your system. When I take charcoal I usually feel a lot of action in my gut. There’s gurgling, percolation and just relief in general. My appetite comes back, I just feel cooler and the next few night I sleep better. This usually lasts about 5-7 days and then I need to do another flush again.
It also works if I wake up at night and not able to fall back asleep from feeling too warm. Many people on various forums report the same findings so there is something to it!
I take three to five caps which is about 1.8 grams (0.375 mg each cap). I get it locally at a pharmacy. Many report great results with coconut charcoal. If my local product wasn’t so cheap I’d try coconut type as well.
Note of caution: you do not want to take charcoal too often because it also binds with good minerals and reduces effectiveness of your other supplements – things just don’t absorb normally. It is usually recommended to take any meds or supplements at least one hour prior to charcoal or at least two hours after the charcoal flush. I usually like to take it right before bed time so that it has an entire night to sit in my gut, healing the gut lining and absorb all this other gunk that is causing me all these health and sleep issues.
I’ve heard that diatomaceous earth (DE) and bentonite clay work similarly to activated charcoal. I have tried them both and find clay to be much more gentle than DE. Sometimes I do a cocktail of bentonite clay and charcoal.
Really want to try a cocktail of supplements and see whether inflammation is at the root of your insomnia? Consult your doc to see if you can try some ibuprofen (see my previous post about it), then a regular non-drowsy anti histamine like cetirizine (zyrtec) and two hours later take the activated charcoal. If you normally take melatonin then go for the sublingual type as it does not need to go through digestion to get delivered to your brain. Go to bed, see what happens.
* Ibuprofen works to reduce inflammation (see another post how Ibuprofen helps with sleep), so does the charcoal. Anti-histamine is to block the excess histamine which is a by-product of inflammation and an excitatory neurotransmitter. The reason I would take non-drowsy is so that you know that better sleep was not merely induced by a drowsy type anti-histamine. If this approach works your next job is to find the root cause of your inflammation.
Activated charcoal can be of great help in moping up those toxins and helping you sleep at night. If you try it then let me know how it works!
P.S. I just finished a more detailed and updated post (How SIBO, Dysbiosis, Candida and Other Gut Issues Can Cause Insomnia) that explains where those toxins can come from (hint – your gut) and the various irritants that need to be dealt with in order to get more restful sleep.