Activated charcoal is an extremely porous form of carbon, that has a large surface area which is required for various chemical reactions. Charcoal absorbs odors, gases, and colors from liquids. It is the reason why charcoal is so useful when used to absorb toxins and impurities. Activated charcoal uses are highlighted for the fact that it binds the toxins and restricts them from entering into the gastrointestinal tract. It is also the main reason behind the invention of charcoal pills. Many people claim that these pills are one of the most important medicines that one must have in the first aid box.
What are Charcoal Pills?
Charcoal pills are claimed to be useful for absorption of various toxins and body impurities. It is the reason why these pills are found beneficial in case of accidental poisoning. Their uses for gas or flatulence are also backed up by many people. They absorb and neutralize intestinal gases like methane and sulfides that lead to indigestion. These pills are also useful for treating itching, which is caused due to kidney dialysis. Charcoal is also found beneficial for treating chemical poisoning and drug overdoses. However, there is not much research available about the benefits of charcoal pills when it comes to diarrhea and it is also important to understand that these pills are not officially recommended by the USFDA. One important question is whether they are hangover reducing agents. It is a well-known claim but again without any scientific proofs involved. According to many experts, these pills only get rid of the sweeteners and additives of alcohol but they are not useful to get rid of the congeners in it.
There are various conditions that can restrict one from consuming these pills. First of all, one should totally refrain from charcoal pills, if he/she is allergic to charcoal or any related drugs. One also needs to consult the health care provider prior to the consumption of any such medications. Also, if one is affected by kidney disease, liver disease, or any other chronic disease, then consult it with the health care provider first. In case one takes the pills on his/her own, which means without medical intervention and don't find any positive effects then it is important to stop the intake of these pills and call a doctor as soon as possible. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should refrain from using these pills. People need to know that it is also important to refrain from combining them with any other kind of medication that they may be usually taking. Do follow this rule at least when administering them without any kind of medical intervention.
Regular consumption of charcoal pills (even with medical intervention) is found to be quite harmful for various body systems and can cause gastrointestinal, respiratory, ocular, hematologic and metabolic side effects. These side effects include - upset stomach, dark stools, vomiting, bowel obstruction, chalk-like taste, perforation of the GI tract, hypernatremia, electrolyte abnormalities, dehydration, hypermagnesemia, bronchiolitis obliterans, adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), empyema, corneal abrasions, porphyria, skin rash, etc. However, it is important to understand that all these are the possible side effects that can show up in case of their regular consumption and overdose. These pills don't cleanse drugs from your system but they can lead to several side effects instead.
As mentioned above, there is no USFDA validation to back the claims of charcoal pills, and hence it is essential that one consults the health care provider prior to the consumption of these pills. It is the best way to stay away from their side effects.
Disclaimer: This WellnessKeen article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.