1. Krasopoulos JC, De Bari VA, Needle MA. The adsorption of bile salts on activated carbon. Lipids 1980;15:365-70.
2. Tishler PV, Winston SH, Bell SM. Correlative studies of the hypocholesterolemic effect of a highly activated charcoal. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol 1987;9:799-806.
3. Neuvonen PJ, Kuusisto P, Vapaatalo H, Manninen V. Activated charcoal in the treatment of hypercholesterolaemia: dose-response relationships and comparison with cholestyramine. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1989;37:225-30.
4. Park GD, Spector R, Kitt TM. Superactivated charcoal versus cholestyramine for cholesterol lowering: a randomized cross-over trial. J Clin Pharmacol 1988;28:416-9.
5. Neuvonen PJ, Kuusisto P, Manninen V, et al. The mechanism of the hypocholesterolaemic effect of activated charcoal. Eur J Clin Invest 1989;19:251-4.
6. Hoekstra JB, Erkelens DW. No effect of activated charcoal on hyperlipidaemia. A double-blind prospective trial. Neth J Med 1988;33:209-16.
Activated charcoal has the ability to adsorb (attach to) many substances, including gases produced in the intestine.1, 2 In a small, controlled trial, people were given a meal of gas-producing foods along with capsules containing 584 mg of activated charcoal, followed by another 584 mg of activated charcoal two hours later. Using activated charcoal prevented the five-fold increase in flatulence that occurred in the placebo group. Another, small controlled study found that taking 388 mg of activated charcoal two hours after a gas-producing meal normalized flatulence by the fourth hour.3 However, a preliminary human study found no effect on flatulence or abdominal symptoms when healthy volunteers took 520 mg of activated charcoal four times per day for one week.4
1. Ohge H, Furne JK, Springfield J, et al. Effectiveness of devices purported to reduce flatus odor. Am J Gastroenterol 2005;100:397-400.
2. Suarez FL, Springfield J, Levitt MD. Identification of gases responsible for the odour of human flatus and evaluation of a device purported to reduce this odour. Gut 1998;43:100-4.
3. Hall RG Jr, Thompson H, Strother A. Effects of orally administered activated charcoal on intestinal gas. Am J Gastroenterol 1981;75:192-6.
4. Suarez FL, Furne J, Springfield J, Levitt MD. Failure of activated charcoal to reduce the release of gases produced by the colonic flora. Am J Gastroenterol 1999;94:208-12.
Charcoal is a fine, black powder made from wood or other natural materials by heating them in an airless environment. Charcoal used for health conditions is usually "activated" to make it a very fine powder, which increases its effectiveness. Activated charcoal can chemically attach, or adsorb, to a variety of particles and gases, which makes it ideal for removing potentially toxic substances from the digestive tract. Activated charcoal is not absorbed into the body, so it carries adsorbed substances out of the body in the feces.
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