Charcoal comes in a variety of forms and the most popular one you are probably aware of is the one in your barbecue pit. However, there is a form called activated charcoal which can be used for a number of different health issues. Obviously, this activated charcoal is a slightly different chemical format than those briquettes for grilling.
Used for years as an emergency treatment for cases of poisoning, activated charcoal used for this purpose can be found in both a suspension liquid form as well as a powdered form. It is not a common product to find on the shelves, but pharmacists often carry it behind the counter so you have to ask for it. The powdered version is more potent and works faster to neutralize toxins but it can be quite rough on your upper digestive tract and your esophagus.
There is also an activated charcoal supplement found amongst the vitamins and minerals in your pharmacy and whole foods stores. They are often found in capsules and easy to digest tablets and are often used for a variety of digestive problems.
Charcoal is quite effective in absorbing toxic substances however you do have to be careful too. It also can soak up essential nutrients as well as lessen the effect of medications and other health supplements you may be taking. If you are having intestinal or digestive issues, charcoal can help. You just need to consult with your doctor about using it.
Using Charcoal as a Poison Control Measure
If you have children at home, it is especially important to include charcoal in your first aid kit. If someone accidentally ingests a poison, most poison control hotlines may direct you to administer the charcoal. The absorbing power of the charcoal can start to work right away to buy you time to get to the hospital. Be sure to choose the liquid or powder form of the charcoal as it works much faster than capsules or tablets.
Charcoal for General Health Issues
When used as a general food supplement, charcoal is believed to absorb gas as well as neutralize troubling stomach acids that may cause indigestion, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and a host of other troubling digestive and intestinal issues. Activated charcoal is tasteless and has no odor which makes it an effective supplement.
It is important when you take the charcoal for health that you follow its prescribed dosage correctly. Always take it with a full glass of water, particularly distilled water when possible as it is free of minerals and other ingredients that are often found in public drinking supplies. Do not substitute other liquids for the water as they may counteract the benefits of the charcoal.
While charcoal can greatly alleviate gastrointestinal distress, you should always confide in your doctor any medications, food allergies, and health conditions you have or are concerned with before taking it. Sometimes, charcoal can actually exacerbate conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and stomach viruses.
Take charcoal supplements a few hours after you take regular medications and other health supplements to allow them time to enter the bloodstream. And if you have any side effects such as constipation, vomiting, stomach pain, tarry stools or diarrhea, stop taking charcoal and consult with your doctor.
Charcoal is an essential staple in every first aid kit. And while there could be some side effects depending on your health and other medications, charcoal can be quite worth it if you are plagued by gas and indigestion that over the counter remedies cannot assuage.