One of the most popular activated charcoal uses is for the safe and effective treatment of poisoning and drug overdoses. Emergency trauma centers across the world use it. In addition, it’s used to reduce bloating and gas, lower cholesterol, treat bile flow problems safely during pregnancy (intrahepatic cholestasis) and even prevent hangovers.
Research shows that activated charcoal works better than stomach pumping (gastric lavage) in some situations.
So, how does activated charcoal work? Activated charcoal works by trapping toxins and chemicals in its millions of tiny pores. Typically, however, it’s not a remedy for the ingestion of petroleum, alcohol, lye, acids or other corrosive poisons.
It doesn’t absorb the toxins, however. Instead it works through the chemical process of adsorption. In the body, absorption is the reaction of elements, including nutrients, chemicals and toxins, soaked up and assimilated into the blood stream. Adsorption is the chemical reaction where elements bind to a surface.
The porous surface of activated charcoal has a negative electric charge that causes positive-charged toxins and gas to bond with it. The nooks and crannies in activated charcoal are the result of a heating process.
It’s also important to note that activated charcoal is not charcoal used in your barbecue grill! Barbecue charcoal contains many toxins and chemicals and should never be consumed.