Activated carbon, properties and use

Posted On By Naina
Activated carbon
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The charcoal is a natural substance useful for absorbing the gas at gastric and intestinal level, and used in the event aerophagia and meteorism. Let’s find out better.

What is charcoal?

Activated carbon, also called activated charcoal, is a natural substance obtained from the combustion of wood, or its processing waste, at high temperatures and in the absence of fire (calcination), in an oxygen-poor atmosphere (carbonification). Subsequently, the carbon is burned a second time in the presence of water vapor, air or gas in order to increase its absorption power (activation).

Where is it?

Activated carbon is the result of carbonification of poplar, willow, birch and pine wood. In nature this process takes place over millennia, when plant tissues are subjected to high pressures that cause an increase in temperature; and to the fermentative action of fungi and anaerobic bacteria, which causes a progressive elimination of hydrogen and oxygen, with consequent enrichment of carbon.

Activated carbon

Properties and use of charcoal

Activated carbon possesses “adsorbent” activity, that is, it is able to make single molecules adhere to its surface; while the term “absorbent” indicates a substance capable of impregnating (as can be a sponge).

The tiny particles of activated charcoal, retaining the air that develops at the gastric and intestinal level, avoid swelling and abdominal tension. In fact this natural substance on the one hand has the ability to adsorb the gases that form in the stomach; on the other hand it is able to extinguish burning and to rub the gastric walls in case of acidity and gastritis due to the presence of many basic minerals. Its intake together with carminative plants, that is, which favor the expulsion of intestinal gases, is therefore indicated in the presence of meteorism, aerophagia, colitis, intestinal fermentation, thanks to the mild disinfectant effect in the intestine.

Finally, charcoal impedes the absorption of toxic substances and favors the elimination of heavy metals that can accumulate in various parts of the body. Thanks to its ability to retain most of the poisons, its administration is also a classic strategy of intervention in case of mushroom poisoning (followed by that of a salt purgative)

This product is also prescribed to prepare for some clinical examinations (ultrasound of the upper abdomen), in order to make him adsorb intestinal gases that would prevent its correct execution.

Contraindications of activated carbon

Activated carbon is contraindicated in the presence of intestinal obstructions or appendicitis. Given its high adsorption capacity of gases and liquids, it can prevent the assimilation of drugs (they must never be taken in the interval between 30 minutes before and 2 hours after activated carbon intake), and nutrients.  No other contraindications or side effects are reported in the literature.

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