How does activated charcoal work?
- Activated charcoal works by absorbing toxic chemicals and dead bacteria in the stomach and intestines.
- According to Dr. Will Cole, "When charcoal is activated by heating at high temperatures in airtight spaces it breaks down into a fine black powder. This powdered form increases its power through creating more surface area which gives the activated charcoal the ability to adsorb."
- Charcoal should be used in conjunction with detoxification, which kills the overactive bacteria in the small intestine. The charcoal is what helps move the dead bacteria out of the body.
- The activated charcoal, when taken in oral form, will attract toxins and bacteria as it moves through the body, exiting through bowel movements.
- For digestive health, activated charcoal not only absorbs dead bacteria, it also "minimizes the gaseous air found in the digestive system."
- According to Dr. Eric Regier, approximately "96% cases of bloated stomach are due to SIBO," so minimizing the gaseous air in the digestive system is a main benefit of activated charcoal for treating SIBO.
- SIBO is often triggered by food poisoning, but activated charcoal can "help the body to expel irritants after food poisoning."
- Based on the study "Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: Novel Insight in the Pathogenesis and Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome," a 400 mg dose of activated charcoal for seven days decreased H2 in SIBO patients, which then decreased "flatus episodes."
- Side effects of activated charcoal can include black stool, constipation, slowing of the intestinal tract, blockages of the intestinal tract, "regurgitation into the lungs", and dehydration.
- People who take acetylcysteine, acetylcysteine (antidote), citalopram, digoxin, dyphylline, methotrexate, theophylline, acarbose, leflunomide, or miglitol should be extremely cautious with taking activated charcoal as it has moderate or mild interactions with these drugs.
- People with the following conditions should not take activated charcoal:
- "blockage of the stomach or intestine
- bleeding of the stomach or intestines
- absence of bowel sounds
- decreased blood volume
- a rupture in the wall of the stomach or intestine
- an increased risk of bleeding
- alcohol intoxication
- a low seizure threshold
- significant uncontrolled high blood pressure
- slow heartbeat
- mental status changes
- a condition where the body is unable to maintain adequate blood flow called shock
- weakened patient"
- People who are allergic to activated charcoal or ipecac should also not take activated charcoal.