A Little Black Magic












By Julie Fergusson, Naturopath

If you, like many other kiwis this summer, have suffered from one of the numerous gastro bugs going around – you’ll know the importance of keeping a quick fix close at hand. There’s nothing nice about spending beautiful sunny days bedridden, but often the only advice offered is to ‘ride it out’ and drink lots of water. The value of drinking water can never be questioned, but there may be a solution to speed up the waiting game.

Enter Activated Charcoal, nature’s very own upset stomach antidote.

You’ve probably seen the videos sweeping the internet, guys and girls peeling black masks off their faces to reveal smooth and supple skin – or vigorously scrubbing black powder into their teeth to achieve perfect pearly whites after one quick rinse. Activated Charcoal often falls in to the natural cosmetics category, but what you may not know about this amazing substance is that it has another incredible ability, which seems to have flown under the radar amongst all the mask peeling and teeth brushing hype.

Activated Charcoal has been praised since the 1800’s for its incredible capability to absorb toxins and assist with intestinal upsets. This black compound is so effective, hospitals keep it in their emergency rooms to treat poison victims, helping save many thousands of people every year.

Taken in capsule or tablet form, Activated Charcoal basically acts like a ‘molecular sponge’ in the gut. It attracts toxins or bacteria similar to how a magnet attracts metal. It is not absorbed by the body, carrying out toxins or chemicals found in your stomach or intestines via the bowel.

Activated Charcoal is produced by burning natural substances such as coconut shells. Once burned, the shells are ground into a powder and made into capsules or tablets (or powder for teeth and face masks!). It is ‘activated’ because the carbon process causes lots of small pores to populate the surface area of the charcoal particle, optimising absorption and increasing effectiveness.

When to use it?

A pantry staple: keep in the pantry for times where you, your children (or your animals!) have a stomach upset (bloating, flatulence or loose bowels).
– The ultimate travel companion: Heading somewhere known for poorer hygiene standards than our western stomachs can handle? You absolutely must take activated charcoal with you. In fact, I carry activated charcoal when I travel anywhere! Nobody likes a holiday being ruined by travel bugs.
Food intolerances: If you are intolerant (not allergic) to any foods and feel you have accidently ingested this food.

In all cases take 2-5 capsules and then 2 capsules every 2 hours if required. Do not exceed a total daily dosage of 15 capsules.
There you have it, another incredible use for an incredible substance. I would highly recommend popping some in your shopping basket next time you’re at the supermarket. Keep it in the pantry, and if you are travelling overseas, absolutely pack some in the toilet bag. I know from experience, it’s saved many a trip to Bali from sure disaster!

Some other very important things to know:

– If you have ingested poison or ingested a food you are severely allergic to, charcoal may help but you must also seek medical assistance immediately.
– If you are ill, it is very important to monitor how you are feeling and to contact a doctor if vomiting or diarrhea continues for more than 24 hours
– Keep in mind that activated charcoal can interfere with the absorption of other medications so if you are taking the pill it would be recommended to use other protection for a few days. If you are on other medications consult with a medical professional before taking charcoal

Read the label. Use as directed. If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional. Endeavour Consumer Health Ltd, Auckland.

This advertisement is approved in accordance with the TAPS guidelines and procedures. Approval number: NA9737