Charcoal: what is it for? Here are properties, contraindications and where to buy it

Also called activated charcoal, charcoal is a natural remedy used mainly in case of abdominal swelling but also to eliminate toxins and in case of poisoning. Let’s find out its properties, contraindications and how to best use it.

The charcoal is known since ancient times as an adjunct of the gastrointestinal system to fight diarrhea , bloating, a swollen belly and promote digestion.

It is a dark colored powder obtained from wood processing. The manufacturing process involves the flame-free charring of certain types of trees such as poplar, willow, birch and lime. To obtain this combustion, the wood is brought to very high temperatures, in the absence of oxygen.

The product obtained is then subjected to a specific treatment capable of removing the previously adsorbed substances and producing a very dense network of pores with a great adsorbing power. Now let’s see what charcoal is used for and what its properties are .

Charcoal: properties and benefits

Thanks to its adsorbing properties , charcoal is effectively used in case of meteorism, flatulence, abdominal swelling, abdominal distension from irritable colon.

In fact, it retains gases in its pores, reducing pain and abdominal tension and facilitating digestion. Vegetable charcoal is also antidiarrheal so it can be used in case of acute diarrhea due to bacteria, viruses, toxins and drugs.

In case of gastroesophageal reflux , vegetable charcoal can help as it serves to retain excess gastric juices, reducing burning and irritation . Vegetable charcoal also has a disinfectant action , engulfing bacteria and viruses from the gastrointestinal tract.

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The adsorbing power of charcoal is also used to eliminate toxins, heavy metals and other harmful substances present in our body. This is why it is also used as an emergency antidote against poisoning . In fact, it decreases the gastrointestinal absorption of toxic substances, reducing their danger. To be effective, it must be administered within 2 hours of ingesting the toxic substance.

Finally, charcoal is cholesterol-lowering as it binds to the cholesterol taken and promotes its elimination.

How to use charcoal

The charcoal is available commercially in powder form or, more often, in tablets. It is usually taken with plenty of water after main meals . However, we recommend that you follow the instructions written on the package. In the non-food sector, on the other hand, activated carbon is used to purify water, to treat industrial wastewater and the air in case of pollution.

Charcoal in pregnancy: how to use it safely

The charcoal can also be used during pregnancy but with caution. Gynecologists sometimes recommend it but only for sporadic occasions. In fact, activated carbon could reduce the absorption of nutrients that are needed by the fetus. The same goes for breastfeeding too.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding and suffer from abdominal bloating and indigestion , first try to correct your diet. In any case, it is always best to consult your family doctor or gynecologist before taking any drug or supplement during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Contraindications of charcoal

Intake of activated charcoal can cause constipation and interfere with the absorption of nutrients and medications. It is therefore good not to abuse it if you suffer from nutritional deficiencies such as in iron deficiency anemia.

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In case of taking medications (including the contraceptive pill), the coal should be taken at least 3 or 4 hours apart so as not to reduce its effectiveness. However, it is always advisable to seek the advice of your doctor.

It should not be used in case of appendicitis or occlusive diseases of the stomach and intestines and in children. Particular attention should also be paid to subjects suffering from diabetes because some formulations on the market contain sugar. However, it is possible to buy activated charcoal without sugar.

Finally, remember to maintain a healthy and balanced diet to defeat a swollen belly and bloating and many other small ailments often attributable to a wrong diet.

Where to buy vegetable charcoal

The charcoal is sold in pharmacies, drugstore and herbal, or online retailer. It can be found in the form of powder, capsule or tablet. The price of the powder is around 4 euros for 100 grams, and 9 euros for 100 tablets of 1000 mg. For the maximum daily quantities, follow the doses indicated on the packaging and the doctor’s advice.

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