Activated Charcoal for Bloating and Bad Gas: Dosage, Timing and Warnings
Activated charcoal is very effective at stopping bloating, absorbing excessive gas and removing toxins and other undesirable compounds in your gastrointestinal tract.
It is, however, necessary to make sure you take this special kind of carbon in a particular way and at certain times for maximum benefit.
Learn exactly how to take activated charcoal for gas correctly ahead, the recommended dosage and timing, and a few charcoal side effects and precautions to be aware of.
How Does Charcoal Powder Absorb Toxins?
Activated charcoal is not metabolized by your body in any way. When you take it, the powder travels all the way through your gastrointestinal tract without being absorbed.
Activated carbon is electrostatically attractive to most gases, chemicals and other compounds.
This is generally a good thing, as it can quickly absorb toxins and gases like hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg gas), 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, supplements and possibly some of the nutrients in food.
For this reason, it’s important to take powdered charcoal, capsules or tablets in a certain way and within a specific time frame.
How to Take Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal should always be taken on an empty stomach with a large glass of water, well away from meals and medications.
I personally drink a second glass of water around 10 minutes after taking charcoal capsules.
The water helps quickly move it from the stomach into the intestines, where it can start reducing belly bloat and bad gas.
Taking activated charcoal 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. Secondly it helps to avoid it absorbing beneficial nutrients from recent meals.
When to Take Charcoal for Best Results
Activated charcoal capsules, or food-grade carbon powder, should be taken at least an hour and a half, preferably 2 hours, after a meal.
The larger and more slow digesting the meal, the longer it would be worth waiting.
Activated carbon should also be taken at least an hour before a meal. You may have a fairly small window of optimal time to take charcoal for bloating and gas if you eat often.
This timing advice is especially important for prescriptions and supplements. Always allow for an hour before and 2 hours after taking supplements when using activated carbon.
Timing to Stop Gas with Activated Charcoal
Activated carbon is generally recommended for intermittent use, rather than as a daily supplement. However, if bad gas is an ongoing problem for you it’s one of the best natural remedies available.
Taking charcoal for chronic flatulence, you could notice when you are most often having bad smelling gas and time taking your capsules or powder to minimize this.
For instance, if bloating and intestinal gas in the morning is more of a problem, you can take it at least an hour before dinner on an empty stomach with lots of water. This gets it where it needs to go to combat gassiness the next day.
On the other hand, if farting at night is an ongoing issue, you could experiment with taking activated charcoal mid morning, between breakfast and lunch to stop gas in the evening.
- The most commonly recommended activated charcoal dose for frequent gas, bloating and toxin removal is 1000 mg (usually 2 capsules). Once again taken with a large glass of water, preferably 2 hours away from meals. This can be doubled for particularly excessive and smelly flatulence.
- Giving activated carbon to children regularly, or especially babies, isn’t generally advised so consult with your GP for correct dose before using it in this way.
Warnings and Precautions
Activated carbon is a popular digestive remedy and flatulence cure. There are, however, some precautions and warnings associated with its use that it’s important to be aware of:
- Activated charcoal absorbs various kinds of substances in your digestive tract. It should not be taken anywhere near important prescriptions. Consult your GP about using charcoal first.
- The effectiveness of vitamin and mineral supplements and even nutritional content of foods may be reduced if taken around the same time as activated carbon. Ideally take it at least 1 hour before and 2 hours after food or supplements.
- A side effect of taking larger amounts of charcoal can be black stools. This is harmless so don’t be concerned if you took it recently.
- This natural remedy for gas may make dehydration worse if you are already dehydrated. Always take activated carbon with a big glass of water. A second glass of water 10 minutes later is advisable.
- Charcoal should not be used as a treatment for ingestion of strong acids or alkaline substances. Obviously seek treatment as soon as possible.
- As a precaution, it is not recommended for people with gastrointestinal injury or obstruction and liver or kidney issues.
- It is also not suggested for pregnant or breastfeeding 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.
Using Activated Carbon for Gas
Like fast-acting fennel tea and potent peppermint oil, activated charcoal is one of the most effective remedies for bloating and gas. Please keep in mind the dosage, and especially timing instructions, in this article when you use it though.
As with any supplement or natural treatment, it’s a good idea to take a month off from using it from time to time, especially if you are using charcoal to stop flatulence regularly.
While some practitioners do recommend activated charcoal as part of a detox plan, unless you are following their advice it’s best used as an occasional but very effective cure for excessive gas.
For how long is it safe to take activated charcoal?