Activated charcoal that is of USP (U. S. Pharmacopoeia) food-grade quality offers several important benefits. While charcoal can be made from coal, wood, or other substances, USP food-grade activated charcoal is produced under stringent requirements since this form of activated charcoal is designed to be ingested as well as used in blood filtering devises such as kidney dialysis units. Activated charcoal made by burning the starting material, e.g., coconut shells or wood, at a very high heat then activating the charcoal in a furnace at high temperatures of 1,700° to 1,800°F with steam in the absence of oxygen. This creates millions of tiny pores per gram. That is why activated carbon is used for water filtration. But, taken orally activated charcoal’s pores can bind toxins and gas to escort them out of the body. The primary uses of activated charcoal are in general detoxification, alleviation of bloating and gas, and lessening body odor from within. Here is a little more in-depth discussion of these applications and others.

Detoxification Aid in Poisonings

Activated charcoal is used in emergency rooms all over the world as a safe and effective treatment of poisoning and drug overdoses. However, do not use activated charcoal at home to treat an overdose unless instructed to do so by a physician or poison control center. Overdoses and poisoning can be quite serious, even life-threatening so that the person should be monitored in an emergency room.

Activated charcoal works so well in many types of poisonings because of the chemical process of adsorption, a chemical reaction where positive charged toxins and gases bind to the negative charge of the porous surface of the activated charcoal. With all the millions of pores, the surface area of activated coconut charcoal is able to bind to an incredibly large amount of toxins and gas. One gram of activated charcoal has about the same total surface area as a football field. That is why it is such a powerful tool in helping deal with accidental poisoning. Sometimes being preferred over stomach pumping. In severe poisonings, very large dosages (e.g., 1 gm per kg body weight) are often required.

Internal Cleansing Agent

For the same reasons it is so helpful in poisonings, activated charcoal can provide support as an internal cleansing agent. In addition to binding some forms of toxins for removal, it also is able to bind bile acids and escort them out of the body. This action is quite important for internal cleansing as many toxic compounds are excreted in the bile. By binding the bile acid the activated charcoal also helps eliminate any toxins that are also bound to the bile acid. Activated charcoal can also be helpful in binding and eliminating heavy metals like lead and mercury.

Digestive Aid for Gas and Bloating

One of the more popular and clinically validated uses of activated charcoal is as a natural aid for excessive flatulence and bloating. This application takes advantage of the action of activated charcoal in binding gas in its millions of pores. For best results, take 500 mg prior to meals. Furthermore, look for combination products that combine the activated charcoal with alpha-galactosidase (an important digestive enzymes in fighting gas and bloating) along with ginger extract to ease intestinal discomfort.

Some Important Guidelines

Be sure to drink enough water each day when taking activated charcoal as it can promote dehydration if adequate amounts of water aren’t consumed. Activated charcoal is generally very well-tolerated. Because it can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, supplements and prescription medications, take activated charcoal on an empty stomach 60 to 90 minutes prior to meals, supplements and prescription medications.