Activated carbon can be very effective at absorbing excessive flatulence gas and removing undesirable compounds in your gastrointestinal tract. It is however very important to make sure you take charcoal in a particular way and at certain times for maximum benefit.
How Does Activated Carbon Absorbed Toxins?
Importantly, activated charcoal is not metabolized or digested in any way in your body. The carbon travels all the way through your gastrointestinal tract and will end up turning stools gray or black.
This may be a little disconcerting for the first time, but it’s useful to get an idea of how long things take to go through your system. Any longer than a day and it may be well worth considering a colon cleanse.
Activated carbon is electrostatically attractive to most compounds, chemicals and microorganisms that are damaging to the human body. This is generally a good thing, as it can absorb and negate toxins as it travels through your stomach, small intestine and particularly large intestine.
Conversely though, this same sponge-like action may also impact the effectiveness of medications or other supplements and possibly even some of the nutrients in food (though there is no scientific proof of this). For this reason and others, it is best to take it in a certain way and at certain times.
Taking Activated Charcoal for Flatulence
Activated charcoal should always be taken for flatulence on an empty stomach with a large glass of water. The water will help move it from the stomach into the intestines where it can start doing its best work. In fact, I personally take a second glass of water around ten minutes after taking my capsules to make sure it’s moved on from the stomach.
Taking it on an empty stomach makes good sense for two reasons. Firstly, to allow the charcoal to travel through your system without the impediment of a large meal. And secondly to avoid it potentially absorbing up beneficial nutrients from the food.
Activated charcoal capsules or high quality food-grade powder, taken with a good amount of water, should be had at least an hour and a half, preferably two hours after a meal. The larger the meal, the longer it would be worth waiting. So a large dinner would be at least two hours, where as with a meal of fruit or soup you may be fine to take it closer to an hour.
Activated carbon should also be taken at least an hour and a half before a meal. You may have a fairly small window of optimal time to take it if you eat as often as I do.
This timing advice is especially important for medications and supplements. Always allow two hours either side of taking supplements when using activated carbon and consult your doctor before taking it if you are using important medicines.
Activated charcoal is recommended for intermittent use rather than as a daily supplement. Taking it for flatulence, you could notice when you are most often having gas problems and time taking your capsules or powder to minimize this.
For instance, if morning flatulence was a problem, you might take activated charcoal one and a half hours before dinner on an empty stomach with lots of water. On the other hand, if intestinal gas is more of an issue in the evening, you might take it midmorning, between breakfast and lunch.
Recommended activated carbon dosage for excessive flatulence is between 500mg and 1000 mg (usually 2 – 4 capsules depending on size), once again taken with a large glass of water, preferably two hours away from meals.
For emergency treatment for poisoning, recommended adult dosage is much larger at 25 to 100 grams of activated charcoal powder, mixed with water and taken as soon as possible after ingestion. Recommended child dosage (1-12) is 25 to 50 grams of the powder mixed with water. And recommended infant dose is 10 to 25 grams of powder mixed with water.
For more detailed charcoal treatment for poisoning information see the Mayo Clinic’s page on activated charcoal.
Warnings and Precautions
Activated carbon is commonly used as a poison and drug overdose treatment in hospitals around the world. Many homes, particularly those with young children, also keep a supply on hand for emergencies. There are, however, some precautions and warnings associated with its use.
Activated charcoal should not be used as a treatment for ingestion of strong acids or alkaline substances, cyanide or alcohol poisoning. Obviously call your emergency number and get to a hospital as soon as possible.
As a precaution, it is not recommended for people with gastrointestinal injury or liver or kidney disease. In fact anyone with a serious disease is recommended to discuss using charcoal with their doctor, especially with regards to their medications.
It is also not recommended for pregnant or breast-feeding women or young children (even though it has been proven to not be metabolized so this may be just the standard blanket warning).
Activated carbon has occasionally been observed to make constipation worse in susceptible individuals. This is usually avoided by drinking plenty of water and timing taking it as suggested above.
If you’re prone to constipation consider cutting back on foods like these that are likely causing the issue and drink much more water during the day. It’s important to consult a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner if this is an ongoing problem for you.
As with any supplement, it’s a good idea to take a month off from using it from time to time, even if you’re only use it occasionally. While some health practitioners do recommend charcoal as part of a detox plan, unless you are following their advice, activated carbon for flatulence is probably best as an occasional but very effective remedy.
Coming up ahead is the best places I’ve found for activated charcoal capsules and powder online.