When you hear the word charcoal, you may think of barbecue charcoal which contains many toxins and chemicals, which is why it should never be consumed. Activated charcoal (activated carbon) is made from natural sources and is safe to ingest. Its use for medicinal purposes dates back centuries and remains popular today.
What is Activated charcoal?
Activated carbon, also known as activated charcoal, is an odourless black powder composed of a carbon-based compound material made from natural raw materials like wood, peat (vegetable matter) or coconut shells. To make activated charcoal, these natural sources are heated to very high temperatures and then “activated” with oxidizing gases, such as steam or air which expand its surface. This results in a very absorbent final product, which supports the body’s cleansing and detoxification mechanisms as it helps bind toxins in the digestive tract.
What is Activated charcoal used for?
Relieves Gas and Bloating -Activated charcoal may offer relief from excessive gas. It works by absorbing the gas-causing by-products in foods that cause discomfort.
Diarrhoea - Activated charcoal can trap toxins in the gut, which can help prevent diarrhoea -causing bacteria and drugs from being absorbed into the body.
Detoxification-Activated charcoal works by trapping toxins and chemicals in the gut, preventing their absorption. It can be useful in emergencies to treat drug overdoses and poisonings.
Whitens Teeth- Activated charcoal can assist in removing tartar and plaque build-up when used as toothpaste
Is activated charcoal safe?
Just like with any other medication or supplement, there is always the potential for side effects.
Products containing activated charcoal should be used with caution in children since it may interfere with absorption of nutrients. Activated charcoal may interact with other medicines. For this reason, ensure you take activated charcoal two hours away from all medications. Activated charcoal is not recommended for long-term use. Consuming activated charcoal can cause side effects such as black stools, diarrhoea, and constipation.
Activated charcoal can also cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Drinking water throughout the day and a glass of water when you take an activated charcoal pill, capsule, or tablet can help you avoid dehydration.
Always read the label and follow directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.Products containing activated charcoal should be used with caution in children since it may interfere with absorption of nutrients. Activated charcoal may interact with other medicines. Activated charcoal is not recommended for long-term use.