Activated charcoal is used to help reduce excessive flatulence/intestinal gas after eating.
Activated charcoal has been created solely for medicinal use. It’s important to realise that activated charcoal is not the same as charcoal used in your barbecue! Barbecue charcoal is loaded with toxins and chemicals, and should never be consumed. Activated charcoal is a manufactured product - you cannot find it naturally in foods.
How does it work?
Activated charcoal is very micro-porous, it is produced to have a very fine particle size. Just 1000mg (1g) has a surface area anywhere between 500m2 and 1000m2. The small pores increase the surface area available for adsorption (this is different from absorption).
- Adsorption is a process in which atoms and molecules attach themselves onto a solid or liquid surface. In other words, the toxic substance attaches to the surface of the charcoal.
- Absorption occurs when a substance passes into or through a substance, like water passing into a sponge.
In the case of excess intestinal gas, the charcoal works by absorbing gas in the digestive system. Because charcoal is not digested, it stays inside the gastrointestinal system and eliminates the toxins it has adsorbed when you have a bowel movement.
In addition to adsorption of toxins, activated charcoal may also adsorb food nutrients, vitamins, and minerals therefore you should avoid consuming this in excess every day. Because the charcoal is not absorbed by the body, there is no evidence to suggest that activated charcoal should not be used during pregnancy or breast feeding. Charcoal tablets may not be suitable for you if you are currently taking other medication. This is because the charcoal might adsorb the medication and make it less effective.