Activated Charcoal (“activated” because it is produced to have a very fine particle size) is a fine, black powder that is odorless, tasteless, and nontoxic, and is a type of carbon made from wood, vegetables and other materials. It is excellent for its ability to adsorb (not absorb)* toxins in the GI tract. Charcoal is used in colon cleanse products, and should be taken with plenty of water to avoid intestinal obstruction or constipation. It is helpful for detoxification, bloating and gas, lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, diarrhea, and food poisoning. Because it adsorbs unabsorbed poison still present in the gut, it is sometimes used at poison centers, given after a gastric lavage, or stomach pump. This charcoal is not the same as the charcoal briquettes used in grilling food. You can purchase activated charcoal from your local pharmacy or natural food store.
*Note: Adsorption is not the same as absorption. The toxic substance attaches to the surface of the charcoal. Because charcoal is not digested, it stays inside the GI tract and eliminates the toxin when the person has a bowel movement.