Some Nigerians say charcoal has antibacterial properties which helps users fight various health challenges.
Beyond its common use as a fuel, charcoal serves therapeutic purposes among Nigerians, especially those in the hinterlands, without access to modern healthcare.
Residents of Gbaukupe community in the FCT, say they still practice the tradition of using charcoal to normalise blood flow in the leg (leg extremities).
The residents in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said that in spite of the numerous things charcoal does, when put in between the toes, it eases numbness and tingling, (death of body tissue in the legs).
Residents of Gbaukupe community are predominantly of Gbagyi tribe in Kuje Area Council, Abuja.
Rejoice Orjiugo, a charcoal seller, said “using charcoal when you have feet numbness helps to ease the tingling.”
According to her, “when your feet are numb and you put charcoal in between your toes you get relieved within seconds.
”Not minding the modern way of massaging the leg, taking medication and exercise, when you have numbness and tingling just put charcoal in between your toes.
“The business of selling charcoal has helped me take care of my family, because since I started the business , I don’t use any other form of cooking device in my house.
”Charcoal is cheap and lasts longer when heated,” she said.
Ms Orjiugo said poultry farmers with day-old chicks also use charcoal to keep the chicks warm through the day and night.
She added that using charcoal to brush teeth helps to keep it clean, odourless and removes stains like ‘tartar’.
Comfort Arege, who is 75 years old, and of Gbagyi tribe told NAN that charcoal has always been used in the community to preserve food.
“If you blend beans or pepper, and you don’t want to use it till the next day, just put a piece of charcoal on it and it will be okay till the next day.
“We also use it with a chewing stick to remove dirt from our mouths, especially the colouring from kola nuts and other foods on our teeth.”
Oshyeye Otumba, a civil servant, said charcoal could be very effective in ulcer treatment, bloated tummy and detoxification.
“When using charcoal for ulcers just chew one or two pieces of charcoal, for a bloated stomach, grind the charcoal and put in water, just drink the mix.
“For detoxification or when you take alcohol and have a hangover, chew charcoal or drink the mix.”
Mr Otumba said charcoal had hidden benefits that people need to understand to make good use of it.
“Charcoal is used to roast or smoke fish, yam, maize and could be used for ironing too.
“Once you suspect your food contains too many chemicals, drop charcoal in it overnight and it will take care of the toxins,” he said.
Josephine Agbo, a cosmetologist, said charcoal could also be used as relief from poison, it should be dissolved in water and taken.
“Charcoal removes impurities from the body, and can be used for bleaching the skin when added to cream, soap and scrub. For those who want fair skin, it is also used to cure skin infections.
“Around the world, many traditional medicine practitioners use charcoal powder made from coconut shells to treat soft tissue conditions, such as skin infections.
“Charcoal has an antibacterial effect, because it absorbs harmful microbe from wounds.
“Charcoal is used for deodorants as it absorbs smells and harmful gas, making it ideal as an underarm, shoe and refrigerator deodorant.”
Joshua Chimezie, an alternative medical practitioner, told NAN that charcoal was often used in emergency rooms to ease food poisoning, overdose, and assist kidney function by filtering out undigested toxins and drugs.
“Charcoal is effective, especially at removing toxins derived from urea, a by-product of protein digestion, reduces gastrointestinal damages and inflammation in those with chronic kidney disease,” he said.
Mr Chimezie explained that charcoal powder could be used to disrupt intestinal gas from the body.
Liquid gases trapped in the intestine could easily pass through the millions of tiny holes in charcoal and this process may neutralise them, he said.
“People use charcoal as a natural water filter. Charcoal can interact with and absorb a range of toxins, drugs, viruses, bacteria, fungus, and chemicals found in water.”
“Charcoal could also prevent bacteria and drugs that can cause diarrhea from being absorbed into the body by trapping them on its porous texture surface,” he added.