Carolyn Kurowski is Director of Hands Across Nations (HAN) which operates in northern Uganda doing relief and development work. Carolyn contacted us before her recent trip to Uganda and was excited about learning more about the medicinal applications of common charcoal, which is readily available in poorer developing countries. She wanted to be able to experiment with charcoal as soon as she could. She didn’t have long to wait. Carolyn also decided to keep a journal (see below) and take pictures (usually an after thought) Carolyn recently emailed with an update and questions.
Thank you Carolyn for taking the time to share!(My comments in parentheses.)
Thanks so so much for the instructions you sent. We are using them ourselves and have 2 families who have committed to using their home made charcoal both internally and externally. I have made copies of the book and given them to 2 medical people, one is a surgeon who sees a lot of osteo myelitis… People are very interested, especially when they know we are taking it too.
Obviously I made a mistake and did not put the poultice with the charcoal in a cloth. (That is perfectly fine to put it directly against the skin. Just give the area some time for the skin to dry before applying the next charcoal dressing.) We put it directly on it. And for the next 4-5 days the lady kept washing off the wound and reapplying but was also washing the wrap and reapplying while wet and it affected her skin and made it soggy and white. (Yes, there should be a brief time between poultices to allow the skin to dry. The whitening effect is normal and harmless. Charcoal has a natural bleaching effect and is used in hundreds of applications to remove color—as in white sugar) We have now changed that. But can you tell me why the charcoal is put in a cloth? Is it to keep the wound from getting charcoal stuck to it? (No, as the wound heals the new tissue will push out the charcoal as it heals from the edges inward. In wealthier countries where paper towels or cloth are convenient and cheap, placing the charcoal in a paper towel/cloth is an easy way to apply the charcoal poultice and to discard it when done. In poor countries where paper towels are hard to find and cloth is expensive, it is necessary to reuse bandaging. It is a good idea to put the banadage in boiling water or iron the washed cloth to sterilize it. With such bad sanitation everywhere it may seem like an unnecessary step, but it is important to stress sterilization as much as possible. That includes washing the charcoal with boiled water to begin with, and at every step making sure it remains as uncontaminated as possible until it gets into a sterilized jar.) Is it easier to put on and off? (It is easier to apply and remove, but again, charcoal can be applied directly to the skin and I am less and less concerned about applying directly in wounds after some of the good reports we are hearing of using it that way) Is there a reason why you can’t apply it directly? (The only exception we have heard is that with a fast healing wound, such as a cut or puncture that may heal over very quickly, some of the charcoal may become imbedded and leave a tattoo effect. I have never actually seen that happen or heard of it.) I’m a Physical Therapist but this is all new to me.
I’ve attached a short journal and some photos of making up the charcoal powder with Richard, our friend, and his family. We will continue to tell people as God directs and will keep in touch with you…
Go with God,
Lira, N. Uganda
CHARCOAL JOURNAL (April—May 2012)
FRANCIS AND FAMILY—Was given instructions for home made charcoal powder and how to use it both internally and externally both as a preventative for gastro intestinal problems and to treat as well. He has a mortar and pestle, 1 fine screen, and a container that can seal. He and his whole family is taking at least one drink of charcoal water a day.
Francis: Peptic ulcer. Has been treated in past. Was disturbing his sleep at night. Tends to eat big meal at night then goes to bed. Gets chest pain—indigestion. Has been taking charcoal in morning and evening and says that slowly over the last week his chest/stomach pain is no longer there.
5-14-12: Francis has a cold, and is taking charcoal water 2-3 x/day.
5-14-12: She has Malaria and is taking some drug for treatment. She has diarrhea and headache. Unable to work in garden. Pretty much down in bed.
5-15-12: Taking charcoal water 2xday. Yesterday afternoon was able to weed in the garden.
Daughter: 5-15-12 Francis says that his daughter had a small wound on the dorsum of her foot. It was small but oozing fluid. (no photo). They made up a poultice and tied it onto her foot and within a day, it had cleared up.
RICHARD AND FAMILY—Was given instructions for home made charcoal and how to use it internally and externally. Was with him through the process of cleaning charcoal with boiling water, drying it, pounding it in a mortar and pestle, putting it through fine screen and into sealed container.
Beatrice, Richard’s mother: Wound on Right lower anterior leg of many months. 3 small open areas with yellow pus and slight drainage, attracting flies. Instructed and made up poultice with charcoal, bread and water, placed over wound, wrapped with plastic then cloth. 4 days later we returned. Pus was cleared away from the 3 open areas with clean, red wound bed looking good. Wound had been wet and leg where plastic had been was wet and needed to dry for a time. Old scar tissue was soft and coming off around open areas. Reapplied poultice which family made up for her, plastic placed just over poultice then rewrapped with cloth. Beatrice says wound is not painful.
Whole family: Taking charcoal drink once each day for preventive reasons, and to clear up minor gastrointestinal issues.
Tykus: Has a cough
Another child, not sure which: Diarrhea
KEITH: Had diarrhea in first week in Uganda. Began taking activated charcoal drink 1-2x/day. Continued to have loose stool 1-2x/day for about 1- 2 weeks. Each time after taking charcoal drink, any stomach rumbling resolved within 30 min. He is taking no Malaria preventative but is sleeping under a net.
5-15-12: Has not had loose stool for approximately 3-4 days. With our cook, Francis being sick, he is taking activated charcoal drink 2xday.
4-14-12: In the first week in Uganda, started with gastrointestinal upset, gas, diarrhea. Began taking activated charcoal drink. Did take 1 immodium tab once, and 2 tabs once when she had an engagement where she had to be able to go for several hours without a toilet. Otherwise she took no drugs.
5-15-12: Has been free of diarrhea for 5 days with no gastro intestinal upset. Has been using charcoal drink at least once a day before going to bed so to allow the charcoal 6-8 hours to work without any food being taken in. With Francis the cool having a cold, she started taking charcoal drink 2x/day.