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How Activated Charcoal Works

Activated charcoal has been used for centuries to treat everything from poisoning to common digestive disorders.

Over the years we have gained a much better understanding of how it works and why so many people rely on its medicinal benefits.
In simple terms, activated charcoal acts like a sponge, working its way through the body and adsorbing substances that can cause harm or irritation to the digestive system. 


What is the difference between charcoal and activated charcoal?

Charcoal describes any burnt organic matter and it can contain high levels of toxins which are harmful to health. Some of these toxins may be categorised as carcinogenic organic substances, generically known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, anthracenes and creosotes. Many of these substances are banned from human food.  
Activated charcoal is processed under high temperatures - up to 1000 degrees C – using purified steam to remove any contaminants. The end product is pure activated carbon, also known as medicinal charcoalactivated charcoal or activated carbon. 

There are 3 main differences between charcoal and activated charcoal:

  • Charcoal burns in air. Activated charcoal does not;
  • Charcoal does not adsorb chemical substances. Activated charcoal does;
  • Charcoal may be toxic. Activated charcoal is non-toxic and safe to taken in the correct quantities.

Activated charcoal does not alter the chemistry of the body and does not form complexes with nutrients or minerals or food supplements.

How Bragg’s Charcoal is Made

Our activated charcoal is produced from coconut shells and has been purified for use as a pharmaceutical active ingredient. Commercial forms of charcoal or activated charcoal which are not approved for pharmaceutical applications may contain byproducts which may cause harm.
During manufacturing a honeycomb lattice structure is revealed during the steam purification process. This creates a large surface area for the absorption of chemical substances, which are bonded to the surface of the activated carbon by electromagnetic forces.  They are then carried through the body and naturally removed. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does activated charcoal react with prescribed medication?
Activated charcoal may reduce the efficacy of certain prescribed medications. We recommend that if you are taking prescribed medications you consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking activated charcoal.
Does activated charcoal adsorb vitamins and food supplements?
We are not aware of any evidence from clinical research studies which indicates that activated charcoal adsorbs vitamins and/or food supplements.
What is the calorific value of activated charcoal?
Activated charcoal has no calorific value.
Can your medicinal charcoal be used to treat under 12s?
Our product is not specifically licensed for use in children under 12.  If you wish to use the product for under 12s we suggest you seek the advice of your doctor or pharmacist.
I have heard that charcoal and overcooked foods such as burnt toast can be harmful.
Charcoal and burnt food may contain high levels of toxins which can be harmful. Activated charcoal is manufactured in a special way using purified steam and this removes any harmful substances.
Are all activated charcoal tablets and capsules the same?
The quality of capsules available in health stores and pharmacies varies greatly. The only way to be absolutely certain that you are buying a pharmaceutical grade, pure activated charcoal products is to buy Bragg’s. Bragg’s is the only company in the UK licensed to manufacture medicinal charcoal products. Before deciding whether charcoal tablets work for you, make sure you have tried genuine medicinal Activated Charcoal.
Should I use tablets or capsules?
People often ask us whether they should opt for charcoal in capsule or tablet form. Both contain the same amount of activated charcoal and are as effective as one another therefore the choice is largely a personal one. Capsules are much easier to take – there’s no chance of the charcoal leaving any gritty residue in the mouth – making them a good option if you’re a newcomer to charcoal, we have noted that some copy products are dirty and leave a black powder residue on your fingers, these products have not been correctly processed and may be of a lower quality than braggs capsules. Our tablets are great for anyone who is used to taking charcoal they dissolve rapidly and are suitable for vegetarians. 


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On the high street, JL Bragg's Charcoal Products are sold in independent Pharmacies & Health Food Stores nationwide.

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