In this article:
- What is activated charcoal and how to use it to quickly absorb intestinal gas and flatulence.
- How to time taking activated charcoal away from meals for maximum effectiveness.
- Types of activated charcoal, what to look for and the correct dosage to take.
What is Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is a unique form of carbon that is oxidized at very high temperatures to give it a massive surface area and incredibly porous properties. Just 2 grams of activated charcoal has roughly the equivalent surface area of a football field.
It’s millions of microscopic pores have a strong negative charge, which attracts positively charged intestinal gases and toxins like a magnet. Because of this, activated charcoal can bind to and eliminate compounds many thousands of times its own weight.
Activated charcoal is an excellent gastrointestinal detoxifier that absorbs intestinal gas and a variety of other toxins as it passes through your system. It is also a particularly potent remedy for smelly flatulence as it binds to highly odorous compounds like hydrogen sulphide (the so-called rotten egg gas).
How to Use Activated Charcoal for Intestinal Gas and Flatulence
Activated charcoal is perhaps the most powerful of all the known cures for intestinal gas and flatulence. It does have a problem though. It works too well.
Research has demonstrated that activated charcoal will pass harmlessly through your gastrointestinal tract, without being metabolized in any way. It does, however, absorb any positively charged substances it comes into contact with.
This is a good thing when it comes to toxins, as most are positively charged and are drawn to activated charcoal. Once bound to it, they are eliminated when you go to the toilet and can do no further damage in your body.
Unfortunately, beneficial substances like medications, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are also often positively charged. This means that activated charcoal should not be taken anywhere near prescription medicine, supplements and preferably well away from food.
If you are using activated charcoal to absorb intestinal gas or to prevent flatulence, then it should be taken at least an hour before eating with a big glass of water. To be safe, make that 2 hours before taking any medications or supplements to be sure it doesn’t interfere with them.
For maximum effectiveness, activated charcoal also needs to be taken well after eating. 2 hours would be a minimum, with 3 hours recommended for a large meal.
The only exception to this rule would be if you knew you were going to be eating junk food or a heavily processed meal full of chemical additives. In this cases, activated charcoal could be taken just before or with the low quality food to absorb toxins in it.
Also be aware, if you do start taking activated charcoal in high doses, it will likely turn your stools grey or even black. This is harmless so don’t be concerned by it. In fact, it can be a helpful indicator of just how long food takes to travel through your digestive tract.
Different Types of Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal comes in food grade powder, tablets and capsules. The fine black powder is usually the best value if you don’t mind stirring it up in a glass of water each time you take it.
Capsules are much more convenient though and popular versions like this are still quite inexpensive. They also disperse much more quickly than tablets and for this reason are usually reported as more effective.
Whatever form you take it in, the quickest way to get activated charcoal down to where it is needed is to drink more water. You should always take the powder, capsules or tablets with a big glass of water. To speed up their passage it’s recommended to have another glass of water 5 – 10 minutes later as well.
Activated Charcoal Dosage and Timing
The recommended dosage of activated charcoal for excessive intestinal gas and flatulence is at least 1000 mg. That’s around a quarter of a teaspoon of the powder or 2 to 4 of the capsules, depending on their size.
A double dose of 2000 mg can be taken for serious cases, but once again, make sure it’s taken well away from medication and supplements and on an empty stomach.
A good timing schedule for taking activated charcoal is to have 1000mg mid-morning, around 3 hours after breakfast and well before lunch. Then have another 1000 mg 3 hours after lunch in the middle of the afternoon.
This schedule gives activated charcoal plenty of time to get to work absorbing intestinal gasses and harmful toxins in the digestive tract, without impacting on the substances you do want your body to absorb.
The Best Activated Charcoal to Buy
Activated charcoal is made from either hardwood, bamboo or coconut shells. The black powder should be fine, without grit and always list on the packaging that it is food grade.
This coconut shell activated charcoal powder is made in the USA, food grade and extremely fine for maximum absorbability. Many people also use it for whitening their teeth or in face masks for better skin.
If you prefer capsules, these bestsellers are good value and high quality. Take 4 capsules for around 1000 mg with a big glass of water.
Activated charcoal can be used for regular intestinal detoxification and to prevent bloating and flatulence, or it can be an occasional but very effective cure for excessive gas. Until digestive problems are under control, it’s always good to have activated charcoal on hand for emergencies.
- Activated charcoal is a potent treatment for intestinal gas problems. If you decide to use it then you need to take it 1 hour before and at least two hours after eating and well away from medications.
- Mix up a quarter of a teaspoon of activated charcoal powder in a glass of water, or half a teaspoon for serious cases. For capsules have the equivalent 1000 mg to 2000 mg, also with a glass of water. A second glass 10 minutes later will help to speed the charcoal on it’s way and quicken results.
Photo credit: sianlp