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The benefits of activated charcoal for intestinal gas

2 min read

Bloating and intestinal gas can be both a painful and embarrassing problem but activated charcoal is a simple and effective remedy. Here’s how you can use it to greatly reduce stomach gas problems and remove toxins from your digestive tract.

What is activated charcoal?

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.

Activated charcoal is a form of carbon, usually made from coconut shells or bamboo, that has been oxidised at extremely high temperatures to change its structure into a highly porous state. It has an extremely high surface area which attracts all manner of pollutants from air and water. 

Activated charcoal is so effective at filtering toxic substances, it has was used as far back as World War I as the filtering component in gas masks - the first once was developed in 1915.

How does activated charcoal reduce intestinal gas?

After it has been processed - normally under extremely high heat with steam, activated charcoal contains millions of tiny pores. It's particle size is so small, just 5 grams can have a surface area big enough to cover an entire football field

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 go to the toilet. 

How and when to take activated charcoal

Activated charcoal is so good at it’s job, you should only take it only at certain times and in a certain way.

You should always take activated charcoal on an empty stomach with a large glass of water, well away from meals, supplements and particularly medications. This is because 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.

Be aware that taking the larger doses of activated charcoal may turn your stools grey or even black. This is normal so don’t be alarmed. It will also give you an idea of how long things take to go through your system the first time you use it!

Related Supplements

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.