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What is Charcoal?

If you have never heard of charcoal supplements, it is probably not your fault. After all, the only charcoal product you might have come across is inside the barbecue pit! For ages, however, the world has been well acquainted with charcoal as a medicinal product. Charcoal is used for removing toxins from the digestive track, alleviating digestion, and helping to treat cases of poisoning. To those who are already acquainted with charcoal's medicinal properties, it is no less than a wonder drug of nature.

The 'activated charcoal', as it is called in medicinal circle, is not the same product that is found in your barbecue. Therefore, even when charcoal is prescribed in a medical emergency, do not reach out for the charcoal inside the barbecue. Commercial barbecue charcoal is not only unfit for ingestion; it could be lethal.

Powdered charcoal in the pure form or suspended in liquid is used in emergency cases of poisoning. Your pharmacist probably keeps it in the first aid section rather than with the vitamins and the supplements. The powdered form, although abrasive on the throat and the upper digestive tract, has the quickest effect in emergencies.

As food supplements or detoxifying agents, charcoal comes in small, easily digestible tablets or capsules.

Some swear on charcoal effects on chronic flatulence. However, this is still anecdotal and has not been medically proven. Charcoal is mainly used as an absorbent of toxin in the stomach and intestinal tract. However, charcoal also absorbs some nutrients thus, weakening the effect of other food supplements. For this reason, charcoal should only be taken with the approval of your physician.

Activated charcoal lowers cholesterol level and lessens the danger of heart disease by absorbing fat. Users also claim that charcoal cleans the body of environmental toxins, although this fact is yet to be established.

Form wise, activated charcoal comes in pills and powder. Experts advise that if you are using powdered charcoal then mix it with a tall glass of water and drink it with a straw. This will prevent your teeth from getting stained. If your teeth do get stained, there have been some instances, then brush your teeth and rinse with water. The stains will wear off. Do not consume activated charcoal with milk as dairy products lessen the effectiveness of charcoal.

For flatulence, mix two tablespoons of activated charcoal powder in a glass of water and drink with a straw, thirty minutes before a meal. You may also take it by a 500 mg capsule after meals or every two hours; whichever is suitable. Care should be taken not to ingest more than 4,000 mg within the period of 24 hours.

Remember, activated charcoal can hamper the effect of other supplements and medication by absorbing nutrients. So, take it two hours before or after other products. If there is a case of suspected poisoning, consult a poison control center expert before contacting your family physician.

Applying activated charcoal:

Never use activated charcoal at the same time as ipecac syrup, which is a home remedy for poisoning. It is very important to remember that charcoal supplements, taken in excessive amounts, can cause black stool, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Charcoal tablets or capsules:

What are charcoal tablets or capsules?

CHARCOAL, sometimes referred to as activated charcoal, absorbs or binds to substances in the stomach and intestines. Although not-FDA approved for these purposes, charcoal capsules or tablets are claimed to help absorb gasses in the intestine that cause flatulence (gas). There is little proof that charcoal capsules can help treat diarrhea, and they should not be taken for diarrhea thought to be caused by an infection.

Accidental poisoning or overdose is a medical emergency. Never use charcoal capsules or tablets to treat accidental poisonings, only charcoal powder or oral suspension are suitable for treating poisoning. If a poisoning or overdose occurs, emergency help should be sought and you should contact a poison control center in your area. Do not treat a poisoning yourself. Generic charcoal tablets and capsules are available.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions: any chronic condition treated with prescription medication, as the use of charcoal for gas may make other medicines less effective by decreasing the absorption of the medications.
have frequent heartburn or gas.
have recently traveled to another country and are experiencing diarrhea.
stomach or intestinal diseases.
an unusual or allergic reaction to charcoal, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives.
pregnant or trying to get pregnant breast-feeding.

How should I take this medicine?
Take charcoal tablets or capsules by mouth. Follow the directions on the product label. Swallow the tablets or capsules with a full glass of water. Do not take your medicine more often than directed.

What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose, it is probalby not harmful. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

What drug(s) may interact with charcoal?

Because the use of charcoal may make other medicines less effective by decreasing the absorption of the other medications, you should check with a health care professional prior to taking this product if you are on other medications, including heart medications or birth control pills.

Charcoal binds to and prevents the absorption of many medicines, do not take other medicines for at least 2 hours before or after taking charcoal.

Tell your prescriber or health care professional about all other medicines you are taking, including non-prescription medicines, nutritional supplements, or herbal products. Also tell your prescriber or health care professional if you are a frequent user of drinks with caffeine or alcohol, if you smoke, or if you use illegal drugs. These may affect the way your medicine works. Check with your health care professional before stopping or starting any of your medicines.

What should I watch for while taking charcoal?

If an antidote to poisoning is required, contact your poison control center immediately and call for emergency help. The telephone number is usually in the telephone book.

Avoid dairy products. Milk and milk products bind with the charcoal and reduce its effectiveness. Do not eat or drink dairy products within two hours of a dose of charcoal.

If you have been using this product and are to have intestinal or other major surgery, inform your health care precriber that you have been taking activated charcoal.

What side effects may I notice from taking charcoal?

Charcoal causes few side effects, they include:
black stools
diarrhea or vomiting
swelling or pain in the stomach

Where can I keep my medicine?

Keep out of the reach of children in a container that small children cannot open.

Store at room temperature between 15 and 30 degrees C (59 and 86 degrees F). Protect from heat and moisture. Keep tightly closed. Throw away after the printed expiration date.

Nature's Way's Activated Charcoal

Country Life's Biochem Charcoal

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