The use of activated charcoal for stomach gas relief is a well-known and commonly used remedy. It is similar to ordinary charcoal, but this one is made to be used as medication. Let’s take a look at exactly what it is, how it’s made and how it helps provide relief from intestinal gases and flatulence.
It is usually made from coconut shells, bamboo or some kind of wood. The typical method used is to superheat the raw material in an inert atmosphere, and then oxidize it by introducing oxygen, carbon dioxide or water (in the form of steam) into the heating chamber. This creates a carbon that has an extraordinarily porous structure.
It’s so porous that a small amount of this carbon in a teaspoon has a surface area equivalent to that of a football field. The carbon is odorless and tasteless and looks like a fine black powder in its basic form. The food grade carbon powder used for medicinal purposes is packed into capsules or pressed into tablets.
The medicinal benefits are all related to its absorption capabilities. As it passes through the gastrointestinal tract, the porous surface sucks in and traps all the foreign impurities, gases and toxins. Once the carbon is passed out with stools, the stomach is cleared of a huge amount of these unwanted substances.
Obviously, it provides relief from gaseous accumulations and other symptoms created by contaminating substances in the stomach. In practical terms, this means no more flatulence and big burps all the time. It’s also known to be effective for improving digestion. On a more serious level, it provides immediate relief for patients suffering from IBS or diarrhea.
Please note that these tablets or capsules are extremely powerful, and need to be taken with due care. Those not suffering from a stomach bug must not take it every day just to improve health. Even for those prone to gas buildups and flatulence, it is advisable to take it only after a gas buildup, rather than as a preventive measure.
There’s some debate about how useful it is for reducing cholesterol levels and preventing hangovers. It won’t hurt to try curing a hangover once in a while, but it’s important not to make it a habit by drinking every night and then trying to skirt hangovers by popping a carbon pill. Activated carbon may also help reduce bile flow during pregnancy, and short-term usage will do no harm. However, pregnant women are advised not to take it regularly without consulting a healthcare professional.
If taken in excess, there may be side effects including constipation and black stools. Make sure not to swallow it immediately after eating. Do not eat food or take any other pills or liquid medicines for at least two hours before taking this carbon, unless prescribed together by a physician for treating a stomach disorder. When taking activated charcoal for stomach gas relief, swallow the tablets with a full glass of water, as opposed to just a small swig to push it down the throat.