Activated charcoal is not the same type of charcoal you use to sear your summer steaks. Activated charcoal is a fine, porous carbon powder that supposedly binds to toxins in the gut and helps flush them out of your system. In fact, ER rooms have used activated charcoal for years in overdose and other toxicity cases.
There are reasons to be cautious about using activated charcoal on a regular basis. In addition to possibly binding to toxins, it might also bind to beneficial substances like medications and certain nutrients, preventing them from being absorbed by the body. There could also be a risk of constipation with overuse.
In my FM practice we use it for another reason. There’s a home test you can do with activated charcoal! Its called the Bowel transit test. After you take the charcoal you can see how long your digestive tract transit time is, by observing the color of the stool. Once you see a blackened stool we can chart the time it took to digest. Optimally it should take between 18-24 hours for food to completely move through the digestive tract. A shorter time is associated with diarrhea, bowel irritation, malabsorption and increased peristalsis. A longer transit time is associated with constipation, and increased the likelihood of bowel toxemia, dysbiosis and poor bowel tone (vagal atonia). A longer transit time can also be an indication of low fiber and/or water in the diet and other digestive problems. Just another inexpensive test that can be proven effective in finding solutions to healthcare problems. For more information on this test please contact our Functional Medicinal office at 614-839-1045.