Charcoal-eating is one of the earliest forms of medication in history. Charcoal has an incredible capacity to bind monotoxins and endotoxins into itself. Charcoal can absorb up to 200 times its own weight.

Many animals eat charcoal, especially from recent bonfires. Monkeys are among the greatest consumers of charcoal in the animal kingdom. This is quite understandable when one considers the fact that monkeys eat a lot of Terminalia Catappa (Indian almond or fruit tree) and Mangifera indica ( Mango). These two plants have a high concentration of phenols and other toxic alkaloids, which could poison the monkey.

Wonder Charcoal

A person who drinks a high dose of the infusion of matured Terminalia or Mango leaves is in danger of being poisoned. But charcoal has the capacity to adsorb these toxins and deactivate them. In East Africa where elephants still live close to human habitation, it is not uncommon to hear of elephants invading a village or compound and carving away charcoals from their bonfire for consumption. Charcoal is a good remedy for food poisoning, infections and lack of vitality.

Animals Know Its Value Also

Note that the primary reason why animals eat charcoal is not to cure a sickness but to detoxify, that is, to prevent sickness. They eat charcoal to counteract the effect of toxins. They do not wait till they are sick. They instinctively eat detoxicants to avoid being sick. When rats are fed with pesticide, they eat clay and charcoal to counteract the effect. Once there is an imbalance in the body, the body sends signals by generating heat, shivering, vomiting, diarrhoea and sweating. All these are not sicknesses but signals that the body is battling against toxins. The most natural reaction, then, is to stop moving about, take a rest, stay off food and allow the process of rejuvenation to complete.

Food vs. Medicine

With the growth of civilization, there arose new views about the human body. The human body came to be seen as a machine which was meant to be used. If the machine is not working well, medicines are to be given to put it back to normal. Gradually, there came a sharp division between food and medicine. Food was now regarded as a separate entity from medicine. Symptoms like fevers and diarrhoea were now seen as illnesses which were attacked with synthetic drugs. Modern science began to invent more drugs to fight bacteria and infections. The emphasis shifted from prevention to cure, from pro-biotic to anti-biotic.

Is Anti-biotics the answer?

Although modern medicine has successfully battled with infectious diseases over the last fifty years through the use of powerful anti-biotics, the human body seems to be worst-off for it. Many of the infections and bacteria we thought were defeated are now coming back in a more aggressive form.

Nowadays, infectious bacteria, such as streptococcus, staphylococcus, pseudomonas and enterococcus have become resistant to modern anti-biotics. The use of anti-biotics is based on the theory that micro-organisms are the cause of all diseases. Science then declared war on micro-organisms and invented anti-biotics to fight against them. What a mistake!

Both animals and human beings have within their bodies millions of micro-organisms. The human body alone has over 150 trillion micro-organisms. Some of these micro-organisms are harmful, some harmless while others are helpful to the body. Our immune system is able to coordinate, control and direct these organisms in such a way that there is a balance between the good, healthy organisms and the harmful ones. The immune system does not need an anti-biotic to do this. So long as we eat good, nourishing food, which means fruits and vegetables, and allow proper detoxification of the body, with adequate rest, we remain healthy.

Body Signs

When there is any imbalance between body micro-organisms, the system begins to reorganize itself. The body loses appetite. Lack of appetite is simply the body’s device to hasten recovery. The micro-organisms in our body need iron to survive. When these harmful bacteria multiply in the body, the immune system immediately makes adjustments to reduce the supply of iron to these bacteria. This is done by reducing the intake of food.

If a sick animal or a sick person keeps eating, any iron in the food also feeds the micro-organisms. Lack of appetite is therefore the body’s way of re-activating itself to ward off infections. It is therefore wrong to force a sick animal or a sick person to eat. Left to themselves, sick animals stay off food for days until they recover from their ill-health.

Fever is another way the body uses to balance up the micro-organisms. The body produces heat to deter the multiplication of harmful bacteria. The best medicine is that which would not tamper with the immune system’s work but would allow it to do its work. But alas, we take medicines to suppress a fever and to improve appetite when sick. The result is that the infection will linger on for a longer time. One of the greatest mistakes of modern medicine is the creation of a dichotomy between food and medicine.


While anti-biotics fight against harmful bacteria, they also destroy the good ones, leaving the immune system weaker than before. It is no wonder that the most deadly diseases of today are those that arose due to the weakening of the immune system. Such illnesses are Cancer, HIV/AIDS, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and general ill health. The time has come for us to re-examine the so-called scientific theories which we accepted without questioning and learn to tap from the abundant wisdom available in Nature, as provided by God.

© Rev Fr Anselm Adodo, OSB

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Image credit@ The Social Worker

Editor’s Note: There are several other non medicinal uses of charcoal that Ismael Suburu has written about HERE. Feel free to take a look.

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