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The Benefits of Carbon or Charcoal for Digestive Problems

Carbon or charcoal tablets has been viewed as a remedy of choice around the world for centuries. This safe, simple and abundant powder is well known for its ability to soothe or treat a host of ailments and conditions.  They are particularly useful when dealing with digestive problems, certain forms of poisoning as well as bacterial and parasitic infections in the intestines or colon.  They are not as well-known or as popular as they used to be, but everyone should consider having a supply on hand for a number of reasons.

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Properties of Carbon
Activated charcoal is extremely absorbent and attracts a number of chemicals just like a sponge attracts spills.  There are some exceptions, such as certain heavy metals, petroleum products and strong acids or lye that do not get absorbed.  However, activated charcoal absorbs a lot of bad things we can ingest that would otherwise make us sick.  Sometimes it also neutralizes their effects and transports the toxins out of the body.  There are also times when activated charcoal prevents contaminants from being absorbed by the body just long enough for the patient to obtain medical attention.

It’s Everywhere
You can find activated charcoal in powder, tablet or gel form almost anywhere and it’s generally cheap.  You can also make your own simply by burning wood into charcoal.  However, it’s important that you use only pure wood that has not been treated, painted or stained.  Chemicals present in these and other products may still remain in the charcoal, and these can pose a serious health risk.  You also want to avoid using wood that has been doused in lighter or other fire-starting material.

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Using it Internally
Activated charcoal will cause diarrhea and perhaps a bit of nausea and abdominal discomfort as it works its way through your system.  You should take a tablet or its equivalent with a glass of water every couple hours until symptoms subside.  The water helps to dilute the material while also making it easier to move about inside the digestive system.  However, as it is also a diuretic, it’s important to monitor hydration during treatment.  Check urine color and make sure that it is always light yellow to light green or clear.  Darker urine may indicate dehydration which can make problems worse.

Since it will probably be difficult to tell the cause of the ailment, consider taking the treatment for a maximum of a few days, depending on whether or not there is any improvement.  If not, consider going to the doctor and obtaining a specific diagnosis.  While activated charcoal is a powerful cleanser, it may not be enough to address the problem at hand.


You also don’t want to use it if there is blood present in the urine, stool or vomit.  The presence of blood can be indicative of internal injuries or conditions that carbon alone can not treat.

Expect to see some greenish-black liquid in the stool as well as a similar, but slight, discoloration of the urine.  This is caused by the carbon along with various impurities that are being removed from the body.  Expect to need to use the toilet numerous times throughout the day with little or no warning.

Don’t delay seeking medical attention if poisons have been ingested, even if you start using carbon treatments.  While it can help to prevent the body from absorbing some poisons, it should be considered a temporary solution that can buy time as opposed to a treatment in and of itself.

Take a round of activated charcoal the next time you get some abdominal pain, serious constipation, an upset stomach or other digestive ailment.  You may be surprised with the results and have a better appreciation as to why this remedy has been so widely-used for such a long time.

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