Why We Don’t Sell Charcoal
What is charcoal? Also known as ‘activated’ charcoal
Charcoal is created from wood which has been heated at a high temperature to create charcoal, it is a carbon-rich material and the making of it goes back circa 30,000 years. ‘Activation’ is where the charcoal is left to oxidise. It gained ‘detox’ trend credentials due to the tiny holes on the outside of the charcoal, which increase the surface area making it a porous material. Ideal for absorbing a variety of compounds, like a sponge. It is for this reason it is commonly used in filtration systems, like the ones in household water filters. However, charcoal doesn’t discriminate over which compounds it binds to. It may absorb valuable nutrients, making the food we eat less nutritious.
Charcoal is a fine, black, odourless powder available in health food shops in tablet/capsule form, but it is also popular in toothpaste and skin cleansing products, too.
What is charcoal used for?
Those taking charcoal in supplement form are likely looking to relieve discomfort from intestinal gas, bloating and flatulence. It is also used as a method to ‘detox’ by adding it to juices and certain foods.
Why don’t we sell charcoal?
The evidence for charcoal is limited and of what research that has been done there is a conflict in results amongst studies. Some say it may reduce the amount of flatulence, and others saying there is no evidence to support it being helpful at all. There is however, an agreement that charcoal may make prescription medications less effective. Also, there appears to be more evidence based around charcoal being used externally rather than in supplement form.
What are the alternatives?
Luckily there are plenty of alternatives to consider, and of those there is data to support their relevance to intestinal health. Take a look at our top suggestions below…
Soluble fibre forms a gel-like substance when mixed with water. Sources of soluble fibre include oats and some vegetables. We wanted to create a convenient and family friendly source of soluble fibre so developed Flourishe®. Flourishe® is formed of a special carbohydrate called FOS (fructooligosaccharides) that is present in small quantities in some vegetables, such as onions and artichoke. It is derived from chicory root which published studies have shown helps to maintain normal intestinal health.
The key active ingredient in peppermint are the volatile oils, particularly menthol. Peppermint has a long tradition of use as a support for digestion. Much of the recent research has focused on the action of peppermint on the digestive system where it has been shown to possess soothing properties.
Ginger is a carminative herb and may be useful as it has a soothing effect on the digestive system. Try adding fresh ginger to your food, treating yourself to a piece or two of crystallised ginger, drinking ginger tea or taking a high-strength ginger supplement.
Turmeric is one of our top selling products and is gaining popularity with those looking to support digestive health. This ‘golden’ spice is a trending in wellness circles and receives a raft of positive reviews.
For our full range of digestive supplements click here.
We’ve seen no evidence that charcoal warrants the attention its been getting. There are no studies on the effects of long-term use, or concrete evidence to substantiate it being useful for intestinal health, bloating or flatulence.
What we do know is that some foods increase the production of gas during digestion, such as beans, cabbage, broccoli, onions and prunes. It might be useful to keep a food diary and see if you can correlate episodes of discomfort to your diet.
It is also likely that a build of gas can accumulate due to the slow transit of waste material through the gut. That material is then acted upon by gut bacteria creating a by-product which is gas. In this instance, speeding up waste transit time as well as ensuring the gut has plenty of ‘live bacteria’, which is commonly found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, is good advice.
Gas may also be a signal of an underlying medical condition. If food isn’t the cause of your symptoms consult your health care practitioner.
Further reading… why not browse our Blog articles to find out more about how to support a healthy lifestyle.
Need FREE confidential nutrition advice? Contact our Nutrition Advice Team by clicking here.
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Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.