Charcoal Stories from Benin, West Africa
Suzy wrote earlier of her experience with using raw chunks of charcoal to rid her well of foul odors. She said she used the same simple charcoal extensively in her mission station in Benin, West Africa. I asked her if she would be willing to send us some of those stories. We decided to dedicate a page just for Benin. We often get inquiries about the effectiveness of this activated charcoal versus another. As you read these stories remember that the charcoal Suzy mentions is not the more adsorptive activated charcoals we have access to. It is just the raw charcoal from a fire pit. We stress this to remind everyone that charcoal works. In an emergency, if all you can get is raw charcoal do not hesitate to use it. As you can see from these stories, God’s hand is not shortened because we don’t have the activated charcoals. Charcoal works! Sometimes you just need a little more.
“Hi John. I just arrived here again in Benin after having been on furlough for the past 3 months. In fact I haven’t even arrived up north to my house yet. I have to wait here until tomorrow to collect a bag at the airport that didn’t arrive with the others.
I have so many stories that I have a hard time remembering them all.
Here is one. One of my friends is a nurse’s aid and people in her family come to her because they think that she is a Doctor (if you are anything medical here, people suppose you know it all… or something). Her father or uncle or someone in her family came and had this nasty infection on his leg. She had done all the usual things they do at the clinic to fix it but it wasn’t healing. So, I suggested that she grind up some charcoal and make some compresses and put it on the wound, cover it well and keep changing it every 6 hours until all the infection was drawn out of the sore. So she did and the sore healed up. I also told her since he was a very thin older man that he would need some protein in his diet, and told her to get some soybeans and make cereal for him out of it each day. Within a few days the sore was on the way to being healed. He was very thankful, and so was she because she didn’t have anymore money to pay the clinic with.
We usually buy second hand clothes on the market and the guys there know me and one of our colleagues who is Benoise. So he came and told me that one of the guys that is usually at the market had a bad case of Penarie [on one finger] – a nasty nasty infection that is under the skin. So I took my charcoal and went to visit him with our colleague. He was in a LOT of pain and so I wrapped his whole hand and wrist in charcoal because it was all swollen up, told him that in the morning he could take it off, and I would be back to do another one on him. The next day he was much more happy. He said it was the first time he had slept because the charcoal had taken down the pain. The swelling had come down a bit so I did hot and cold [soaks] on him and then put charcoal on again. I did it for about 3 days and then quit because I was afraid to keep his hand moist that long, so I let it dry and did hot and cold and showed him how to do it. Because it was a really bad infection and I didn’t know if he was HIV positive or not I stuck him on antibiotics also. I was afraid that he could go septic. He continued with the hot and cold [soaks] and the finger finally opened and the pus started to come out. He kept doing hot and cold with some bleach drops in it, and taking the antibiotics, and it finally healed up. He was very thankful! That is a partial charcoal story but it did take the pain down and help localize the infection.
One day I was going to haul sand for someone and when I got to their house I asked the son where his mom was because she used to work for us and I wanted to say hi. He said she had been bit by a scorpion the night before and was in bed. I went in to see her and then asked if she had some charcoal. She did and sent her son, who is 6, out to show me where it was. He helped me to get some pieces out [of the fire pit] and we pounded them in their little mortar. When it was more or less fine, I mixed it with some water and plastered it all over her leg all the way to the knee. She had been bit on the little toe but the pain was all the way up the leg. I plastered the wet charcoal on the leg and went to move a load of sand. About 45 minutes later I came back and she was sleeping and the pain had gone way down to her ankles. The charcoal was starting to fall off because it had dried some. So I picked it up and rewet it and put it on her foot again, and went and moved another load of sand. On returning, I checked and the pain had gone down to her toe. I rewet it and stuck it on her toe and then told her when the pain was gone she could take it off. I left and the next day she was up and around as if she had not been stung—usually she would have suffered for many more days.
Personally I have used charcoal lots. One time I had gotten some mushrooms that were past being good and possibly had one in there that was poisonous. Anyway, I had eaten them and then started to get a nasty tummy ache. I ignored it for a while but pretty soon I couldn’t anymore. So I decided to try charcoal. The pain was intense and I really felt like throwing up, but then I drank a bit of charcoal (that was all I was able to get down without throwing up) and within 5 minutes I had relief. No more pain and a calming feeling [instead of nausea]. So I drank the rest and had no more ill affects. It worked very quickly.
I use hot water or hot compresses many times for infections but if they are bigger I use charcoal. I also get infected fingers off and on and I just put on a compress of charcoal and put a plastic bag around it and sleep and the next morning the infection is gone.
One thing I don’t use charcoal for is abscesses. They are soooooo painful and charcoal rubbing on them only makes them more painful, So for those I use hot compresses [moist towels] to help the abscess to open up and clean out.
For some people who come for help, I sometimes won’t even clean the wound that is infected and nasty. I will just cover the whole thing in lots of charcoal and have them come back the next day and then clean it. The charcoal softens everything and at the same time pulls out the infection. Then I almost never do the cleaning. I make them do it. Then I don’t have to touch a sore and they learn how to clean it. Then I check to see how the wound is doing with the infection and see if I need to put charcoal on again. I teach them how to tell when and how to put the charcoal on. That is how the society works here. If I can teach a few people and it works for them, they will teach others. Personal testimony is very important.
We also used charcoal for someone who had an inflammation of the sack around the heart. I hadn’t used it right away because I had thought it was [exposure to] heavy metals that caused it and charcoal isn’t known to do much for that(editors note: This article found that activated charcoal adsorbs heavy metals), but after several months we decided to try it. So he drank quite a bit of charcoal slurry and we also plastered his front chest on the left side and the back left side with charcoal plaster—for about an hour per day, which was about as long as he could lay there. But it helped lots. One, it cleaned all the drugs he had taken out of his system, and two it helped to take down the inflammation from the heart. And, with a bit of rest he healed up and is doing fine now.
One day on the way to church we stopped to pick up a child who was going to go with us and found her mom with a very fat face from an infection of one of her teeth. That evening I took her some charcoal and showed her how to make charcoal paste and put it in her mouth and pack it around her tooth. Then I put some on a piece of fabric and plastered it on the outside of her face, and in fifteen minutes she was doing much better. Of course the tooth still had problems but the infection went down. I told her to keep doing it and then visit the dentist. I don’t think she did, but she did keep treating the infection whenever it hurt.
Another time when I was in Mongolia I forgot to take along painkiller as I was new to this charcoal thing—I had nothing else. So when one of the girls came to talk to me and told me that her tooth was hurting and her face was swelled up, I had no choice. I used the charcoal and in fifteen minutes the pain had gone away and she was back out playing again. She did it whenever it would start to hurt. The tooth probably finally fell out—there were no dentists there that I knew of.
When I had my wisdom teeth taken out (you know there are holes where the teeth come out) about two weeks later when the holes were supposed to be finished I had this pain that felt like it was somewhere between my teeth and my ear. I couldn’t really tell but finally, after prodding, I figured out it was my “tooth hole.” So I took some charcoal paste and pushed it up in there and left it. About an hour later I washed it out and never had a problem with that tooth hole again. Well there are tons more I am sure but this is what I can think of right now.” A big THANK YOU Suzy for taking the time to share these precious stories. And may God continue to bless your ministry to the people of Benin!
To find out more how charcoal can help you treat infected wounds, mushroom poisoning, infected teeth and other common ailments, simply and naturally, right in your home, order the book CharcoalRemedies.com now.