What is Charcoal for?
Common charcoal is made from peat, coal, wood, coconut shell, or petroleum. “Activated charcoal” is similar to common charcoal, but is made especially for use as a medicine. To make activated charcoal, manufacturers heat common charcoal in the presence of a gas that causes the charcoal to develop lots of internal spaces or “pores.” These pores help activated charcoal “trap” chemicals.
Activated charcoal is used to treat poisonings, reduce intestinal gas (flatulence), lower cholesterol levels, prevent hangover, and treat bile flow problems (cholestasis) during pregnancy.
What is Charcoal Possibly Effective for?
Trapping chemicals to stop some types of poisoning when used as a part of standard treatment.
• Lowering cholesterol levels. So far, research studies don’t agree about the effectiveness of taking activated charcoal by mouth to lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
• Decreasing gas (flatulence). Some studies show that activated charcoal is effective in reducing intestinal gas, but other studies don’t agree. It’s too early to come to a conclusion on this.
• Treating reduced bile flow (cholestasis) during pregnancy. Taking activated charcoal by mouth seems to help treat cholestasis in pregnancy, according to some early research reports.
• Preventing hangover. Activated charcoal is included in some hangover remedies, but some experts are skeptical about how well it might work. Activated charcoal doesn’t seem to trap alcohol well.