The benefits of taking activated charcoal

I’ve been a natural health therapist for coming up to 30 years now, and I have carried out tens of thousands of consultations and treatments in that time. One of my go-to supplements to ‘detox’ the stomach and gut is activated charcoal.

Linda Booth, founder of Just for Tummies digestive supplements

I’ve always recommended a charcoal cleanse when the seasons change in March, June, September and December for a general digestion/gut ‘re-set’. However, you don’t have to wait until the seasons change before embarking on a charcoal cleanse. You can do it at any time, but what are the benefits of taking charcoal in this way?

A charcoal cleanse doesn’t just help to support gut health, but immune health too. Remember that around 80% of your immune system’s cells are produced in your gut, so a healthy and well functioning gut can lead to a healthier, more resilient immune system that’s better able to fight off viruses, bacterial infections and inflammation. Not just that – around 90% of your body’s feelgood, ‘happy’ hormone, serotonin, is also produced in your gut, so once you begin to clean up your gut, you may find that your mood improves too.

I also recommend a charcoal cleanse to people who are plagued with embarrassing intestinal gas and uncomfortable bloating.  Who wants to be showing off their tummy, whether it be in a dress, some stretchy leggings or a swimsuit, when it’s full of uncomfortable, bloaty gas and you’re totally petrified of breaking wind, in case it smells offensive?!

A vacuum to demonstrate what charcoal does to your gut

How does a charcoal cleanse work?

I liken charcoal to a powerful vacuum cleaner. Just as a vacuum ‘deep-cleans’ your carpets, charcoal may help to ‘deep-clean’ your stomach and intestines. As the charcoal is passing through your digestive system, it’s helping to absorb trapped painful gases, microscopic bits of rotting food, ‘bad’ bugs, parasites and any other detritus that may be lying around, potentially causing a problem.  A charcoal cleanse reminds me of a magnet, collecting iron filings, that I often larked about with during Physics lessons at school, many moons ago. I never did like Physics much, but I loved messing around with the magnets and iron filings.

How can charcoal help our digestive system?

I’ve always carried out a seasonal charcoal cleanse over the years, and I’ve recommended charcoal to thousands of other people who have found that the charcoal has helped to reduce uncomfortable bloating, absorb trapped offensive and painful gas, reduce diverticular attacks by cleaning out the ‘pockets’ and, in some cases, also reduce acid reflux. Many of my Just For Tummies customers tell me that after taking two of my Activated Charcoal capsules before bed, they are not kept awake with acid reflux and wake up the following morning feeling well-rested. 

At the same time as the charcoal cleanse, I will also recommend that levels of ‘friendly’ gut bacteria are built up with my Live Bacteria probiotic capsules, just one twice daily, before breakfast and before bed, with a small glass of water – no hot drinks. 

Charcoal is also pretty effective at helping to reduce the effects of a gut infection like food poisoning so it’s a good idea to pack a pot in your suitcase to take on holiday, especially if travelling to the Far East, India, Africa, South America, the Caribbean and if cruising.

Keep a pot at home too for when barbecue seasons begins. There’s always a spike in cases of food poisoning during the summer months. Begin taking charcoal straight away at the first signs of food poisoning, three capsules before meals and three capsules after meals, until symptoms begin to subside. If you still have symptoms after three days, then have a word with your pharmacist as you may need some hydrating sachets too.

Keep charcoal in your 1st aid kit

It’s a very good idea to keep a pot of Charcoal capsules in the medicine cupboard, just in case. It’s such a versatile, safe supplement. You can even give it to your dog! You can read more about protecting yourself from getting food poisoning at a barbecue by reading my blog post here: ‘Don’t let the bugs have a bonanza at your barbecue.’

This is what Tara said about my Activated Charcoal capsules:

“These are fantastic for my tummy if I’m suffering from trapped wind or bloating after meals. I have used the capsules before going to sleep and wake up the next day feeling great.”

How to do my charcoal cleanse

If you want to try my 5-day Charcoal cleanse, it’s really easy. I don’t like complicated supplement protocols. Take two Charcoal capsules half an hour before lunch, two half an hour after lunch and repeat at dinner, with a small glass of water. Don’t take the Charcoal at the same time as any other supplements or medications.  If you’re taking our Digestive Enzyme tablets, you can still take one of these just before your lunch and one just before dinner, whilst carrying our the Charcoal cleanse and likewise, if you’re taking our Live Bacteria capsules, take one just before breakfast and one just before bed, with a small glass of water.. This 5-day cleanse will use 40 of the 60 capsules in the pot, leaving you a few left over to use on those days you’re feeling a bit gassy, a bit bloated, or a bit bilious.  On those occasions, please note that the dosage is different to the 5-day cleanse.  If you’re not sure of the dosage, just email the Tummy Team at: feelgood@justfortummies.co.uk

If you are not doing the cleanse, please follow the dosage stated on the pot, especially if you have an upset tummy, where diarrhoea is in evidence: take three capsules half an hour before eating, and three more half an hour after eating, until symptoms subside. 

On days you feel a bit gassy, bloated and uncomfortable, just take one or two capsules half an hour before meals.  If you’re not sure about the dosage, just email the Tummy Team by clicking here, and one of our nutritional therapists will advise.

As I mentioned previously, Charcoal is a very versatile supplement, with different protocols, depending upon symptoms.  It’s impossible to fit all the protocols on the back of the pot label.

Sometimes, as the charcoal is doing its job of ‘deep-cleaning’ your digestive system, it can slow down transit time in the bowel. If this happens, take a natural laxative to help move the wastes along and out, or carry out an enema, or have a colon hydrotherapy treatment. However, if you have a health condition that severely affects transit time in your digestive system, such as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis or Gastroparesis, then do not take charcoal supplements without first passing it by your GP.

Charcoal can also speed up transit time and may give you loose stools. This is also quite normal, and part of charcoal’s ability to purge. The charcoal will also make your stools go black – all perfectly normal.

The charcoal powder in my Just For Tummies charcoal capsules is ‘activated’, meaning it has a larger surface area, to enable the charcoal to absorb more ‘toxins’. The capsules are made from coconut shells as these have been shown to make the best quality charcoal powder, suitable to put into food supplements and for pharmaceutical use too. Our charcoal capsules are made following strict Medicines Health Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guidelines and contain absolutely no impurities, just pure carbon charcoal powder. Anything you’re not sure about, just get in touch with one of the Tummy Team by clicking here to send us an email or send us a message on Facebook.

The Just For Tummies Activated charcoal capsules
My Activated Charcoal capsules

If you try the 5-day charcoal cleanse protocol, I would love to hear from you and get your feedback. You can send me an email, leave a review on my Facebook page, or join Tummy Talk, my community Facebook group.

If in doubt, always consult your Pharmacist or GP about taking charcoal.

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