Charcoal: is it really good for you?

Charcoal: is it really good for you?

Vegetable carbon is a substance widely used in herbal and food products: let’s clarify its real properties.

Vegetable charcoal is obtained from the combustion, in an oxygen-free environment at temperatures up to 600 ° C, of ​​three types of wood: poplar, willow and birch.The absorbing power is given by a large number of micropores that retain gas, bacteria and virusesAfter combustion, the carbon obtained is activated , i.e. made porous, in order to give it its typical absorbent property. In fact, what is commonly used is activated carbon powder , used as a remedy for meteorism, aerophagia, diarrhea, abdominal swelling and pain and intoxication of the body by drugs or toxic substances. The function of charcoal is due to its physical adsorption properties, thanks to an enormous number of microscopic pores that imprison the particles of the substance with which the coal comes into contact. The term adsorb in fact means making single molecules adhere to a certain surface, and is different from an absorbent medium, such as a sponge, which is impregnated with these substances. Vegetable carbon therefore has the ability to retain liquids, gases, bacteria, pathogens, toxins and viruses present in the gastrointestinal tract on its surface, thus acting as a mild disinfectant.

However, let us remember that having an anti-swelling action  does not mean that it makes you lose weight : it does not have any slimming effect nor can it be considered a metabolism accelerator. Very effective is the combined action of charcoal with plants or extracts with carminative properties  (i.e. elimination of intestinal gas, already adsorbed by activated carbon). In particular, some carminative plants to be associated with vegetable carbon are: cumin, fennel, mint, coriander and ginger. Finally, its use also has positive effects against bad cholesterol : the use of activated charcoal showed a reduction in plasma levels of total and LDL cholesterol. It is believed that this action is due to the interference of activated carbon with the enteropathic circulation of bile acids.


In some cases, however, it is good to avoid its use because although it does not have toxic effects, it should not be used in case of lesions of the digestive tract or in the presence of appendicitis or intestinal obstructions.It is always good to consult a doctor to take the right doses safely In addition, the use of charcoal must comply with the dosage indicated on the packaging because  an excess could cause constipation. It is also necessary to avoid simultaneous intake with drugs, since due to its high adsorbing power, charcoal  interferes with the intake of drugs , because it adsorbs their active ingredients. However, it is recommended to avoid taking it during  pregnancy and breastfeeding , and it is  not recommended for children because it could intercept and absorb nutrients important for their growth. In general, however  , self-prescription is always not recommended, but the indication is to always consult your referring physician for any doubts and to evaluate any interference.

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