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Activated charcoal, also known as activated charcoal or healing charcoal, is in the form of black tablets and has been used primarily as a remedy for diarrhea and poisoning. Administration of activated charcoal is a relatively safe and effective therapeutic method. Some doctors believe that it is more effective than gastric lavage. Activated carbon is also used in cosmetics - for example in cleansing masks. What other properties does medicinal charcoal have and what is the dosage?

Activated carbon( activated carbon ) is produced from wood pulp at a temperature of approx. 900 ° C, followed byactivatedby the action of steam or strong acids in order to obtain the maximum adsorption surface. 1 g of activated charcoal can be 1000 m 22or more .¹

Healing charcoal (activated) is usually in the form of black tablets. Activated charcoal is indicated for treatment:

  • food poisoning
  • diarrhea
  • poisoning with chemicals and drugs

Incidentally, it is used in the case of flatulence.

However, it was appreciated in the past for its other properties. Hippocrates and his students recommended powdered charcoal on infected wounds, which not only prevented bad odors but also made the wound heal faster.

Healing charcoal has a drying and absorbing effect on secretions and bacteria. Similar treatments are used to this day by Aborigines in Australia, many African tribes, Indians in the Americas and Eskimos in Greenland, but the latter use not charcoal, but burned animal bones (this is the second source of obtaining this raw material).

Africans and Aborigines found many other uses for coal, for example compresses made of medicinal charcoal "extract" poison from wounds inflicted by poisonous snakes, spiders, scorpions or rabid animals. Indians, on the other hand, use coal to treat allergic reactions to poison ivy.

Activated carbon for diarrhea

Activated (medicinal) carbon has strong adsorbing (binding) properties for other substances, incl. bacteria and toxins causing diarrhea. It catches and binds them, and with them is excreted from the body.

Besides, healing charcoalcovers the gastrointestinal mucosa with a layer that protects it against harmful substances.

However, medicinal charcoal can only be used for a short period of time due to undesirable absorption, incl. digestive enzymes and vitamins.

Activated carbon in poisoning with drugs and chemicals

Medicinal charcoal binds not only bacteria and toxins, but also some drugs, so it has been used (as an auxiliary) as an antidote to overdosing.

The most effective way is to administer coal quickly after ingesting the poison, i.e. up to 1 hour. As a rule of thumb, charcoal should be administered after the poison has been removed by inducing vomiting or gastric lavage, but activated charcoal may also be used without emptying the stomach. The dose is 1 g / kg b.w. in an aqueous suspension of 50-100 ml.

The amount of carbon given should be at least 10 times the amount of poison ingested .²

Activated charcoalshould notbe used routinelyin all oral poisonings . It is administered only after consumption of substances that are adsorbed by carbon, if the dose of poison creates a risk of severe poisoning or death.

Activated charcoal binds drugs such as:The administration of activated charcoal is ineffective in case of poisoning:
  • salicylates
  • paracetamol
  • barbiturates
  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • phenols, alkaloids
  • heavy metal s alts
  • benzodiazepine derivatives
  • chlormethiazole, chloroquine, chlorpromazine and phenothiazine derivatives
  • clonidine and other CNS stimulants
  • digoxin, digitoxin
  • ibuprofen
  • mefenamic acid, mianserin
  • nicotine, phenytoin
  • paraquat
  • MAO inhibitors
  • propranolol and other beta blockers
  • quinine
  • theophylline
  • zydowudyna
  • lyes and acids
  • letter
  • with iron
  • with alcohol
  • bleach
  • cyanide
  • essential oils
  • petroleum
According to an expertKrystyna Knypl, MD, PhD, internist

Eating mold and healing charcoal

I ate half a bun before realizing there was mold in it. What to do?

dr. Krystyna Knypl, internist:

If any abnormal products or pathogens enter our body, the body has various natural defense mechanisms, such as vomiting or diarrhea, which cause the unwanted food to be removed faster.

One-time consumption of food with a small addition of mold by a he althy adult person should not cause major he alth problems.

So, in addition to an easily digestible diet containing a lot of fiber (for example rice and boiled carrots) that will facilitate the removal of mold, you can take 2 tablets of medicinal charcoal on an ad hoc basis ( carbo medicinalis ) - it is available over the counter in pharmacies. Carbon absorbs pathological substances and facilitates their excretion from the gastrointestinal tract.

Activated carbon (activated) - dosage

Adults and children over 12 years of age:in mild food poisoningwith symptoms of flatulence or excessive intestinal fermentation: 800-1200 mg several times a day until symptoms disappear.

The preparations can be swallowed whole, but for faster action it is recommended to chew the tablets.

Anti-diarrhea : 3-6 g every hour (3-4 times) preferably in the form of a water suspension until symptoms disappear.

In poisoning : adults and children over 1 year of age - a single dose is usually 4-12.5 g in the form of a water suspension, which should have the consistency of a thick cream.

Contraindications to the use of activated carbon

The most important contraindications to the use of activated carbon are:

  • upset stomach
  • suspected intestinal obstruction
  • acute abdominal pain
  • ulcerative colitis

In patients with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, the risks associated with its use may outweigh the benefits shortly after surgery on the upper gastrointestinal tract.

Activated charcoal hinders or even prevents the endoscopic assessment of the gastrointestinal tract.

In addition, it must not be administered if the patient does not cooperate, has disturbed consciousness, defective defense reflexes from the respiratory tract.

It cannot be given to infants .

The use of coal is also contraindicated in situations where it increases the risk of aspiration of stomach contents into the respiratory tract, e.g. in poisoning with hydrocarbons.

It should also not be administered if an oral antidote (e.g. N-acetylcysteine ​​in paracetamol poisoning) is planned.

You should not take charcoal during meals, because food reduces its effect.

According to an expertBarbara Grzechocińska, MD, PhD, obstetrician gynecologist, assistant professor at the 1st Department and Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the Medical University of Warsaw

Activated carbon in pregnancy

I'm 22 weeks pregnant. From 2days I have diarrhea, I do not know what medications I can take, and tomorrow 250 km ahead of me, I do not know how to go, I suffer from irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea. I had to discontinue the medications I was taking because I was pregnant. I took Loperamid for 5 years.

Dr. Barbara Grzechocińska, MD, PhD, obstetrician-gynecologist: Diarrhea can occur for various reasons. Coal is the simplest drug and safe in pregnancy. You have to take it in large amounts. However, it won't help if the diarrhea is caused by an infection.

Activated carbon in cosmetics and more

Activated carbon is used for the production of refills for protective masks, air and water filters, for the clarification of protein hydrolysates, musts, wines and juices, for the production of spirit, pure sugar, for the separation of gas mixtures, for the purification of vapors and gases. Very black varieties produce carbon black used for dyeing.

In addition, activated charcoal has also been used in cosmetics. It will deal with acne, blackheads, whiten your teeth and eliminate the problem of oily hair.

Activated carbon - side effects

Charcoal turns feces black. It can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, it can cause constipation, and sometimes it causes vomiting, especially in children. Pulmonary aspiration (especially during vomiting after administration of charcoal) has been reported.

Activated carbon - possible drug interactions

May reduce the absorption of salicylates, barbiturates, glutethimide, and possibly also other substances and drugs (including contraceptives, anticoagulants, antibiotics). Other medications should be used at least 2 hours before or 2 hours after using charcoal.

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