Activated Charcoal: What Is It, How Does It Work and Are Capsules, Tablets or Powder Better?
Activated charcoal is one of the most effective emergency flatulence remedies available. But what is it, how does it work and what’s the right kind to use?
Here’s what activated charcoal is, how it helps stop belly bloat and intestinal gas, and if you should use tablets, capsules or the bulk carbon powder.
How Is Activated Charcoal Made?
Food grade charcoal powder is a deep black powder with very fine particles. It is odorless and relatively tasteless and should have less than 4% ash residue.
Activated carbon is made from coconut shells, bamboo or hardwood. The wood or shells are super heated in an atmosphere of inert gas like nitrogen, and then oxidized with steam, oxygen or carbon dioxide.
This creates a highly porous molecular structure with a very large surface area for absorption. Under a microscope it looks like honeycomb with millions of tiny pores. These pores act like sponges, attracting and absorbing gases, toxins and other impurities.
Carbon Capsules or Tablets?
For therapeutic uses, activated charcoal comes in either a fine powder, granules, tablets or capsules. I personally much prefer carbon capsules over tablets for their superior gastrointestinal dispersion.
Capsules are also a lot easier to take than powder and you don’t risk getting it in your teeth (though it is a great teeth whitener).
No matter what form you choose, always take it with a big glass of water 2 hours away from food, and particularly well away from prescriptions and supplements.
Is Hardwood or Coconut Shell Better?
Powdered charcoal is generally better value than capsules or tablets and the ideal option for regular use. Unlike tablets or capsules, you can also easily use it for teeth whitening and other external applications.
Some health authorities recommend activated charcoal made from coconut shells as being slightly more absorptive than powders made from hardwood. Other resources maintain there is little difference.
Overall there appears to be little difference between a high quality coconut shell carbon and one made from hardwood. Just look for the product to be food grade and ultra-fine.
Ultra-fine powders like these have exceptionally high adsorption rates and will outperform cheap bamboo carbon from China, which is generally best avoided.
Activated Charcoal for Farting
Activated carbon, whether taken as capsules, tablets or powder, is very effective at quickly relieving digestive upsets, such as bloating, intestinal cramps and smelly gas problems.
It does, however, have to be taken at certain times and in a certain way. This makes it less suited for everyday use than other gas cures, such as fennel tea, peppermint oil or ginger tea. It’s best kept as an occasional, but very effective flatulence remedy.
I hope this article has answered what activated charcoal is, how it’s made and why it’s better to use carbon powder or capsules over tablets.
There’s detailed instructions for how to take activated charcoal for gas here, with correct dosage, recommended timing, side effects and precautions.