Medicinal Uses for Activated Charcoal


Most preppers swear by activated charcoal. Well, why don’t they? The substance is incredibly versatile. With it, you can make filters for chemical warfare, use it to purify water, and place it on your toothbrush to whiten your teeth. Most of all, though, this is a perfect addition to any medical kit in the house.

Activated charcoal can treat a number of issues, particularly digestive ones.

Here are seven of its top medical uses:


Diarrhea is unpleasant and even at the best of times a bout of it will make it hard to get on with your life. If it’s not the best of times, diarrhea can kill. It’s actually one of the world’s biggest killers – the UN estimates that about 1.5 million people, mostly children, die every year from it. Diarrhea causes dehydration and if you can’t rehydrate fast enough, kidney failure or heart failure will end life.

There are a lot of factors in a survival environment that can induce diarrhea, from polluted water to radiation, and the root cause will always be hard to handle. You can cope with the symptoms, though.Six times a day, blend a tablespoon of powdered activated charcoal in a glass of water and drink it. This reduces or eliminates the diarrhea, preventing dangerous loss of fluid.

Some people would recommend a poultice of the charcoal applied to the stomach. Do not do this, it is magical thinking and will have no effect whatsoever. Charcoal is a well-proven diarrhea remedy, but it needs to be taken internally.

Related: 5 Home Remedies for Diarrhea


The secret to the effectiveness of activated charcoal is its capacity to soak up huge amounts of other chemicals. That makes it an obvious choice to treat poisoning cases and it may be very good at that. Poisoning is always a danger, especially if you have young children – no matter how careful you are, there is always a risk that they will be able to get into and drink something toxic. Adults, too, are at risk, though, especially in an emergency. What if an industrial accident contaminates your water and right after drinking a big glass of it, you realize the problem?

Charcoal can’t do anything about poison that has already been absorbed into your body, but it can soak up any poison in your stomach that is still there. If you do that, the infection won’t get any worse and you can start treating the symptoms that already occur. If you start the treatment as soon as you know somebody’s drunk poison, you might even completely prevent the symptoms.

Take four to six activated charcoal capsules or a tablespoon of charcoal as soon as possible to treat poisoning, then repeat the dose every ten minutes until you can get medical help or the symptoms begin to disappear. Capsules are best for treating poisoning, as all of the charcoal gets easily to the stomach. When a corrosive liquid has been swallowed by the patient, like bleach, powder is safest.

Related: How to Use Herbs and Make Your Own Cold Medicines at Home

Insect Bites and Stings

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You don’t have to swallow poison for it to get into your body, there are plenty of insects and spiders that will be quite happy to inject some for you. But some insect stings can be incredibly painful – anyone who has a run-in with yellow jackets knows this – and there are a few spiders whose bite can be lethal. Any pharmacy will sell you a variety of items intended to minimize bites and stings discomfort – but only activated charcoal can kill the bite poison. If you apply it to the infected area, the natural absorption will draw out poison through the puncture, you won’t get all of it, but the more you remove, the less the sting’s effects will be.

Making your own charcoal-based anti-sting balm is easy, but if you have no one, plain powdered charcoal will work, too. Just put approximately half a teaspoon on the bite, then cover it with a Band-Aid to keep it up. It requires not much charcoal, the crucial thing is that it is in direct contact with the sting’s surface.


Intestinal gas can be amusing – it’s a popular schoolboy humor topic. This can also be annoying to the sufferer and humiliating. When there are a few people staying in a crowded emergency shelter, for anyone else it can be very irritating, too.

Gas is caused by chemicals in the intestines; and charcoal can absorb them. One or two capsules, or a teaspoon of powdered charcoal, typically would be sufficient to solve the problem. It sounds minor, but it can make a major difference to your bunker’s air quality, no one wants to be filled by foul bowel gas forever.

Related: 26 Ancient Remedies That We Should Revive from History

Bowel Disease

There are a few bowel disorders that can make life to sufferers very uncomfortable. Crohn’s Disease, ileitis and ulcerative colitis are all unpleasant diseases in which to live miserably. You can’t be healed by activated charcoal; but it can reduce the inflammation that causes much of the pain. If you take charcoal regularly, the symptoms can be reduced; making it much easier to get on with life.

The best way to use charcoal for bowel disease is to take one or two capsules for each meal or a tablespoon of powder with each. It will allow it the ability to flush out the toxins that cause inflammation, which will then be extracted from the body.

Dental infections

Dental issues can lead to absolute suffering – and if you can’t get to a dentist, you can’t do anything about them. The good news is activated charcoal which can help to reduce some of the toughest conditions pain. When you have an abscess, for example, the charcoal will pull some inflammatory agents out of it, decrease the swelling and alleviate pain.

Make a poultice from charcoal powder wrapped in a piece of sterile, tightly woven cloth to treat dental problems. The finer the fabric is, the stronger. Keep it over the abscess until the swelling starts to fall. A charcoal poultice can also reduce the discomfort of a broken tooth.

Related: Personal Hygiene First Aid


Acid indigestion isn’t going to kill you, but it can feel like it will. Also the signs of a heart attack may be misunderstood. It’s caused by too much stomach acid, which then flees into the esophagus. Common symptoms are pain, vomiting, and an appetite loss. The easiest way to stop it in the long term is to watch your diet, don’t over-eat and don’t consume too much fluid during meals, but if you’re struggling now, that’s not much help. Time to save you on activated charcoal.

A tablespoon of charcoal removes excess stomach acid, eases the symptoms easily. Treating heartburn with powdered charcoal is better, capsules will dissolve in the stomach, but powder will also help soak up any acid that has already escaped into the esophagus.

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