Life Extension Magazine®

Beth Daly who uses charcoal against environmental toxins

Surviving Environmental Toxins

Beth Daly credits activated charcoal for saving her life after what she believes was an environmental toxin-related illness that doctors could not identify.

Scientifically reviewed by Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2023. Written by: Donna Caruso.

Although more than 25 years have passed since Beth Daly almost died from a sudden, mysterious, debilitating illness brought on by toxic environmental chemicals, her six months of suffering while bedridden are as vivid to her today as when they first occurred.

Failed by a medical system unable to identify either the source of her condition or any effective treatment, Beth finally began her long recovery thanks to her husband Richard’s fortunate discovery of activated charcoal in a health food store. Beth’s multiple symptoms included heart palpitations, night sweats, nausea, vomiting, low-grade fever, mental confusion, and hot and cold flashes that occurred within moments of each other. “I felt every part of me was trying to get rid of a poison,” she recalls, adding that at the time, neither she nor her husband knew what that poison was or how to eliminate it.

Finally, after several months of using over-the-counter activated charcoal, a seemingly miraculous anti toxin brought home by her husband, Beth’s symptoms began to disappear.

To this day, Beth continues to rely on activated charcoal whenever she feels it’s needed and at 62, describes her health as “excellent.” Richard, a long-time Life Extension® member, credits his scientific background and lifelong interest in holistic health for his timely discovery and is grateful that he and their four young children did not lose a wife and mother at such an early age.

Beth Daly’s Supplements
  • Activated Charcoal (as needed)
  • AMPK Activator
  • ArthroMax® Advanced with UC-II® & Après Flex®
  • Astaxanthin with Phospholipids
  • Blueberry Extract withPomegranate
  • Boron
  • Coconut Oil
  • Complete B-Complex
  • CoQ10
  • Grape Seed Extract
  • Immune Senescence Protection Formula™
  • Lactoferrin
  • Mega Green Tea Extract (decaffeinated)
  • Milk Thistle
  • Mega Green Tea Extract (decaffeinated)
  • Milk Thistle
  • Mitochondrial Energy Optimizer with BioPQQ®
  • NAD + Cell Regenerator™
  • Neuro-Mag™ Magnesium L-Threonate
  • No Flush Niacin
  • Optimized Saffron with Satiereal®
  • Probiotics
  • Pycnogenol®
  • Pyridoxamine
  • Skin Restoring Phytoceramides with Lipowheat®
  • Super Bio-Curcumin®
  • Super CLA Blend with Sesame Lignans
  • Super Omega-3 EPA/DHA with Sesame Lignans & Olive Fruit Extract
  • Vitamins D & K with Sea-Iodine™
  • Zeaxanthin

A Healthy Beginning And Early Life

Growing up in Indiana, Beth benefited from her mother’s vegetable garden, which provided much of their food. “We had fresh vegetables in the summer,” she recalls, “and canned vegetables in the winter.” Beth also remembers one neighbor providing home-grown grapes and apples, while another sold them fresh eggs. “I feel like I got a very healthy start in life,” she says.

Enrolling at Indiana University, Beth met Richard, a student of chemistry, physics, and computer science. They soon married and started a business manufacturing optical products, which continues to this day.

Richard’s keen, early interest in nutrition soon began to influence Beth, and they both became devoted to organic food, supplements, and keeping abreast of the latest findings through state-of-the-art literature, including Life Extension® magazine. “Rich started taking supplements in his mid-20s,” Beth says, “and I eventually started reading articles about health and vitamins and taking them, too.”

The Health Crisis

The Health Crisis  

Their life-altering incident occurred around 1989 when, as residents of Florida with four young children, Beth and Richard were taking a day trip to Orlando. Several things happened that day, but it was only much later, in retrospect, that they put together the evidence to finally identify several factors they now believe caused Beth’s prolonged illness.

The first was driving past a state truck on the side of the road that was spraying chemicals, which were shooting up in the air. Not long after, the family stopped at a restaurant. Beth’s daughter ordered a chicken sandwich, which she said didn’t taste right. Beth thought it tasted okay, and ate it. A little later, while waiting in the car for her husband, Beth smelled something bad and began to feel sick.

“By the time Rich returned to the car, I knew I was ill,” she explains. “We thought if we went to a mall and I walked around for a while, I would feel better, but I only began to feel worse and even had to lie down on a bench.” By the time they returned to their car, Beth was extremely ill, so they rushed to the nearest emergency room.

Sitting in the crowded waiting room with their children, Beth and Richard soon decided to leave because they didn’t want their children exposed to the seriously ill people surrounding them.

Upon returning home, Beth was bedridden for almost six months, suffering from all the symptoms previously mentioned, none of which she had experienced before. “I felt shaky inside and had brain fog,” she adds, “but the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. They couldn’t come up with a diagnosis or offer any solutions.”

After months of trying to figure out what had caused Beth’s illness, the couple finally contacted the Mayo Clinic and an environmental clinic in North Carolina. They never needed to go, though, because things finally started to turn around.

The Wonders Of Activated Charcoal

Records show that activated charcoal, a form of processed carbon, was used as long ago as 1500 B.C. in ancient Egypt, in Greece during the time of Hippocrates, and from 1870 to 1920 as a medically accepted antidote for poisons. Its ability to adsorb (condense and bind organic and some inorganic substances) as opposed to absorb, meaning to assimilate or soak up and excrete them explains its longtime use to remove toxins from the body.

What It Is

Made by heating coconut shells (the preferred source) or other organic materials such as wood, peat, or coal, then converting them to a powder, activated charcoal is then turned into tablets or capsules. It is estimated that 1 gram of charcoal has a surface area equivalent to a football field, meaning a very small amount is able to adsorb a large amount of toxins very quickly and effectively and excrete them through the stool. By removing toxins in this way, charcoal can also be said to have important anti-aging factors.

Charcoal’s Uses

Although there are not many scientific studies on activated charcoal, a small study titled “Effect of Activated Charcoal on Hypercholesterolemia” published in The Lancet in 1986 showed that charcoal effectively lowered LDL cholesterol and increased beneficial HDL cholesterol. Charcoal is more widely used to treat poisoning and drug overdoses, particularly in emergency rooms, and especially when used within one hour of toxin ingestion. It does not work with every toxin, however, and is more effective with drugs such as acetaminophen, digoxin, tricyclic antidepressants, and barbiturates. It can also be lifesaving as an emergency treatment for accidental poisoning before medical care arrives. In such cases, you should identify the substance ingested and immediately call your local poison control center or emergency department for directions prior to use.

Activated charcoal is also useful for getting rid of intestinal gas and toxins that cause indigestion, and as a digestive system cleanse before a fast. In addition, charcoal may also accelerate wound healing, benefit those suffering from stomach upset and infections; relieve symptoms of kidney and liver disorders, and reduce unpleasant effects of chemotherapy. Again, it is important to consult your health care provider before using.

How To Use

Do not take charcoal on a daily basis and do not take it within two hours of eating, if possible. Again, ask your health care professional about exact dosage and frequency of use for your specific problem. Drink a lot of water after taking charcoal in order to help flush out the toxins.


Charcoal not only removes toxins, it can also remove important nutrients. For this reason, do not take charcoal every day. Do not take it at the same time that you take supplements or any prescription medications. Sometimes charcoal can have side effects, including abdominal pain and swelling, requiring immediate medical attention.

A Timely Discovery

A few months after the onset of Beth’s illness, Richard was in a health food store at lunch time and decided to walk around while waiting to be served.With his background in chemistry, when he saw a bottle of activated charcoal he thought it could draw out the toxins that he and Beth now believed were causing her symptoms. He bought the product and Beth began to take the charcoal pills—two at a time. She only took the pills every few days, since she didn’t want to deplete any essential nutrients in her body. “I slowly began to feel better,” Beth recalls, “and now I’m certain that Rich saved my life.

“Before that, I was not able to function,” she continues. “I was in bed, my meals were brought to me, and my husband had to take over care of the children and household, and even wash my hair, since my arms were aching all the time. I was pretty much unable to do anything. I felt so ill I honestly thought I was going to die.”

What The Dalys Discovered

Despite her extraordinary recovery using activated charcoal, Beth still faced other serious health issues. She mentions two miscarriages within the two years following this illness and says that for the last 10 years, she has been unable to sleep after eating meat from animals raised in America, including organic—a problem she didn’t have after eating meat in France and Switzerland. Although neither Beth nor Richard are certain of the reason, both believe it may be related to the way the animals are raised and/or slaughtered in each country.

Twenty-five years ago, it took months before Beth’s original debilitating symptoms disappeared completely, and while Richard wasn’t 100% sure the activated charcoal would work, he was convinced that Beth’s severe illness had been caused by environmental toxins and that the charcoal might well be able to remove these poisons from her body.

Today, Beth takes the charcoal whenever she experiences any of the symptoms she once had and says she typically feels better within a few hours. “I take charcoal when I feel symptoms coming on,” she explains, “and I take it before they become more serious.”

Over the years, Beth has also observed that her symptoms can resurface after encountering numerous substances, including pesticides, herbicides, glue, bleach, formaldehyde, cleaning products, ink, perfume, air freshener, exhaust fumes, smoke, and musty environments.

“After I saw the charcoal, I immediately thought it would help her,” says Richard. “I believe Beth’s problems occur because her liver doesn’t detoxify some chemicals and it’s nice to know that I figured out what would help her.”

Life Today

Life Today  

Many years later, the Dalys established a website, to tell their story and provide a forum for others who have also found natural, alternative methods to deal with various health problems, especially after traditional medicine has failed. Although Beth has never received a definitive medical diagnosis for her disorder or any scientific proof that her symptoms and prolonged illness were due to environmental toxins, the Dalys strongly believe in the importance of anecdotal evidence, which Richard calls “the precursor to scientific evidence.” In this case, at least, there are very strong reasons to believe that Beth’s condition came about due to exposure to such powerful toxins and was helped through the amazing properties of activated charcoal that removed them from her body and restored her health.

Beth’s traumatic experience set her on the road to taking better care of her health. Today, she and her husband eat about 90% organic food, which they obtain at an all-organic store and café close to their home. They also take many supplements, most of which come from Life Extension®. Beth walks two miles, three or four times a week and hopes to live long enough that technology will advance enough to enable her to live even longer.

The Dalys are both devoted to Life Extension® and say they’re grateful for the magazine, the high quality supplements, the diagnostic tests, and the research into increasing longevity. It is their greatest hope that their story will help others.

“One thing we like to do is talk to people about health and vitamins,” Beth explains, “and sometimes we run across someone who has had problems with the environment and has become ill, and we always mention activated charcoal or other supplements that we think could help.

“I feel that the real benefit for me is that vitamins can help prevent diseases that may not have symptoms until they become a major problem or are too advanced to have a good outcome.”

For more information about anecdotal evidence regarding alternative health and healing, please visit

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.