Taking activated charcoal to relieve stomach trouble
Stomach discomfort can throw off your day. Whether it’s gas pain, indigestion or a bloated belly, the symptoms are hard to ignore. As it turns out, there’s a little black tablet that may provide some relief’while it’s rising in popularity these days, it’s actually been around for longer than you may have thought.
Activated charcoal’which can be found in powder, liquid or pill form’is a natural substance used to absorb toxins from the body. Its original use was is in poison control centres, to remove poisons that had been ingested. In pill form, it is a safe and easy to use home remedy for a wide variety of ailments or health issues.
What can activated charcoal help with?
Recently, activated charcoal has been found to help with symptoms caused by Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), reflux and a variety of other stomach ailments’even ulcers. Some people bring it travelling in case they are struck with diarrhea or other common travellers’ illnesses.
Activated charcoal binds to the toxins in fats and in the digestive tract, helping foods be processed without the body also trying to break down those extra toxins. It’s especially helpful in the lower intestine to relieve gas. Because it binds to the acids that cause indigestion, reflux and bloating, you may find yourself with a less bloated belly. which, once deflated, may look and feel flatter.
What is activated charcoal and how does it work?
Activated charcoal is made from natural material such as coconut shells, wood, peat and bamboo. It’s heated up so that it becomes porous, helping it to act like a sponge to soak up chemicals. It’s important to note that activated charcoal should be bought from pharmacies and health food stores’it is not the same as regular charcoal. Activated charcoal, unlike regular charcoal, is food grade and safe to take internally. Chemicals found in processed foods, pesticides on fruits and vegetables, bacteria and the acids that cause indigestion can all cause stomach upset. Activated charcoal binds to these sources in your stomach and intestines, removing them and reducing the symptoms they cause.
How and when to take activated charcoal
Doctors who see the usefulness of activated charcoal recommend using it on occasion only, on an as-needed basis. One risk of taking it more regularly is that it’s unclear how internal systems set up to do the same work will respond. It’s best to keep those systems ‘your kidneys and liver in particular’healthy and to maintain healthy eating habits.
When exactly the best time is to take activated charcoal is in debate, so much so that we dedicated an entire guide to it!. Some take it after meals to relieve bloating, or even before meals and claim to have seen positive results. The problem with taking activated charcoal too close to meals is the possibility that nutrients you do want in your system will also be absorbed. A popular suggestion, to avoid this possibility, is to take tablets between meals, ideally 2 hours before and after eating. Because there hasn’t been research on this, there isn’t a clear answer to when is best, so you should experiment with different times to see what works for you.
A word on weight loss
It’s time to bust this myth for good. Activated charcoal does not bind to or break down fat, so it is not an effective treatment for weight loss, despite any rumours that you heard about it burning fat. If you’re looking for the next magical weight loss pill, unfortunately this is not it.
What else can activated charcoal be used for?
Activated charcoal’s abilities are not limited to soothing stomachs, rather, it can be used in wide variety of ways. Use it to help whiten your teeth. Learn how it can ease the pain from wasp and hornet stings. Activated charcoal can even be used to help deep clean your skin and add volume to your hair.
A few final points on safety
While activated charcoal can have enormous positives effects on your body, like anything else, you want to make sure you’re using it safely.
Follow the directions on the bottle carefully in regard to dosage; taking too much could cause diarrhea. (If your stool is black don’t be alarmed, it’s just the charcoal leaving your body after doing its job.) Do not take activated charcoal if you are pregnant or have kidney or liver conditions. Don’t try to use activated charcoal for poison control; contact a doctor or poison control centre if poison has been ingested or there is a possibility of drug overdose.
It is known that activated charcoal can pull out the active ingredients from other medications, making them ineffective, so it’s advised not to take activated charcoal when taking other medications, especially not near to the time you are taking them
Want to learn more about how to take activated charcoal safely? We’ve written an entire guide for you!
Have you already incorporated activated charcoal into your diet? Let us know in the comments!