A Surprising Natural Food Allergy Remedy

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This Natural Food Allergy Remedy has helped many through the ages. Have you used it?

{Please welcome Erin Ter Beest from Natural Wonderer.  Erin is sharing a fascinating post about a Natural Remedy for Food Allergies that might surprise you.}

In 1831, the distinguished Professor Touery stood in front of his colleagues at the French Academy of Medicine and drank a dose of strychnine that was several times the amount considered lethal.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, Professor Touery did not have any ill intentions, nor did anyone else wish him harm.

 

So why was he drinking poison?

He drank poison in order to demonstrate to his colleagues the powerful effect activated charcoal has in binding toxins and removing them from the body.

The professor survived his demonstration unharmed.

Activated Charcoal – An Ancient Remedy

Activated charcoal (sometimes abbreviated as “AC”) has been used for thousands of years by cultures around the world:

- Both the ancient Egyptians and Hindus were known to have used it.
- Native Americans used it mixed with water as a stomach remedy.
- In Victorian England, charcoal biscuits were sold as an antidote to flatulence.
- And many “old wives” will tell you that burnt toast (virtually the same thing) offers excellent relief for an upset stomach.

Today, activated charcoal is available very inexpensively at most pharmacies and in other places that sell natural supplements.

Uses for Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is highly adsorbent (not to be confused with absorbent), which means that other substances bind to its surface.

Because of its power of adsorption, activated charcoal is commonly used in hospitals as a remedy for those who have ingested a poison of some kind.

In addition to being used in cases of poisoning, activated charcoal has been documented as treatment for:
- stomach bugs (binds the bacteria causing the illness)
- gas
- colic
- infant jaundice
- indigestion and heartburn
- tooth pain, and
- stinging bug bites.
- It can also be used to whiten teeth because it pulls stain-causing elements from the tooth enamel.

Using Activated Charcoal to Reduce Symptoms of Food Allergies

One lesser known use for activated charcoal, which I recently discovered, is helping to deal with reactions from food allergies. The AC binds offending proteins in food that the body can’t break down, such as gluten, dairy, egg, peanut, soy, and other allergens. When the protein is bound to the activated charcoal, it is whisked out of the digestive tract rather than remaining in the body and causing discomfort, therefore reducing or alleviating food allergy symptoms.

This treatment works best in people who have primarily digestive symptoms when reacting to a food allergen (i.e. upset stomach, bloating, gas, diarrhea, etc.), and it should not be relied on as a remedy in individuals who have anaphylactic allergies (although some research shows that using activated charcoal in addition to epinephrine immediately upon ingestion of an allergen could help lessen the severity of anaphylactic reactions).

If an individual suffers from food allergies and accidentally eats a food to which he or she is allergic, it is best to take activated charcoal as soon as it is known that allergen has been ingested, whether symptoms have appeared or not.

The treatment is more effective the sooner it is administered after an offending food is eaten. That way, fewer proteins enter the bloodstream before they can be bound to the activated charcoal.

Of course, it is not always immediately possible to know when you have eaten something that you are allergic to, but taking AC as soon as symptoms start to occur will help to alleviate many, if not all, of the symptoms.

Scientific Evidence That Activated Charcoal Works

There is ample anecdotal evidence testifying to the effectiveness of activated charcoal in dealing with accidentally ingested food allergy triggers, especially for people who are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease and have inadvertently eaten gluten.

Scientific research on the subject is still in early stages, but so far studies attest to activated charcoal’s effectiveness for allergens other than gluten, as well. One such study was published in the Journal for Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Researchers for the study mixed peanut (a common allergen) protein and activated charcoal in test tubes and swallowed it. They then used various measurement techniques to determine how well the charcoal bound the peanut protein, making it unavailable to the body.

“It was found that at a high enough dose of activated charcoal, the peanut protein was effectively absorbed and made essentially unavailable for detection by various methods.” (Source)

Although activated charcoal is effective in reducing or eliminating symptoms from eating foods that might cause allergic reactions under normal circumstances, the treatment should not be used as a way to cheat on a restricted diet in order to eat offending allergens. The AC cannot stop all of the proteins in a food from entering into the body.

Some will still enter the blood stream, causing the immune system to over-react, triggering inflammation, and exacerbating leaky gut issues. Anyone with food allergies should make all efforts to avoid the foods they are allergic to, but, as we are all human, activated charcoal can be helpful for the occasional instance where a mistake is made and an allergen is accidentally ingested.

My Family’s Experience with Activated Charcoal

My own son has had food allergies since he was an infant, mainly to gluten, dairy, eggs, and some nuts. Before we figured out that he had allergies, we spent months watching him squirm, cry, and scrunch up his legs in obvious distress.

As many of you probably know, it is a horrible feeling to see your child in pain and not be able to do anything about it. Nothing we tried worked and we couldn’t find any doctors who could help us. He was actually misdiagnosed as having acid reflux. Thankfully we were able to take things into our own hands and figure out the root of the problem.

Since we discovered my son’s food allergies, we have had very few incidents of stomach pain and other digestive discomfort, but occasionally, especially when eating food not prepared at home, he accidentally ingests one of his trigger allergens and has a bad night.

The first time that I thought to try activated charcoal as a remedy for food allergy symptoms was after he had unknowingly eaten dairy. We put him to bed, but he woke up several times within the first two hours of sleep. I could tell he was uncomfortable, and he kept telling us his stomach was “hot.”

Of course, I wanted to do something to help ease his pain, so I tried giving him a blend of herbal tea formulated to calm the stomach.

It didn’t help.

While wracking my brain for another option, I saw activated charcoal in our kitchen. I knew that it was often used for stomachaches and that it wouldn’t hurt him to try it, even if it didn’t alleviate his symptoms.

I emptied 1 ½ capsules of the AC into water and put it in a sippy cup so my son couldn’t see the black color (I was afraid he wouldn’t drink it if he saw it). He drank the water quickly without protest and fell back asleep. He slept soundly for six hours and then woke up saying his stomach was hot again. I gave him more of the activated charcoal and water, and he slept the rest of the night, waking up without symptoms in the morning. Every other time that my son has accidentally eaten dairy or another of his food allergens, he has woken up two to three times per hour throughout the night. Sometimes the discomfort from his symptoms has been so great that he hasn’t been able to sleep at all. I was shocked at how well the activated charcoal had worked to alleviate his symptoms and help all of us get a good night’s sleep.

(Note: There is some research that says that taking activated charcoal with dairy will actually make it less effective, but we have successfully used it to treat the symptoms of a dairy allergy.)

Activated Charcoal Dosage

There is a wide variety in the recommended dosage of activated charcoal for non-poison related use, most likely because the amount of charcoal needed to be effective varies from person to person.

A general guideline is to take 500 to 1040 mg of activated charcoal with water up to 4 times daily, as needed.

Adults can start by taking two to three capsules and repeat as needed until symptoms subside. For small children it would be wise to start with a smaller amount, such as ½ or 1 capsule of activated charcoal, adding more gradually as needed.

Contraindications and Side Effects

- Activated charcoal can cause constipation and dehydration, so it should always be taken with plenty of water.
- Because of its adsorptive nature, AC binds everything, not just toxins, so it shouldn’t be taken regularly.
- If used too often, it could cause nutrient deficiencies.
- Activated charcoal will interfere with absorption of prescription and over-the-counter medications into the body, so it should always be taken separately (wait three to four hours in between using AC and taking medication), and a doctor should be consulted before using activated charcoal in the case of being on long-term prescription medication.
- Finally, activated charcoal will often turn stools black, but this is due only to its own black color and is no cause for concern.

Activated charcoal is one of the safest and most cost-effective remedies to keep around the house. If you or a family member suffers from food allergies or sensitivities, it could very easily be the difference between hours of pain and discomfort or a regular day.

Interested in purchasing Activated Charcoal? Check out my Resource Page.

Please note:  Neither Adrienne nor Erin are doctors and we don’t pretend to be so.  Please consult with your physician before changing your diet, supplement, or exercise protocol.  Thanks!

Do you have food allergies?
Have you ever used activated charcoal?

Erin Ter Beest - Writer for Whole New MomErin Ter Beest lives and blogs in Alto, Wisconsin. She takes care of her son, Sawyer, while dabbling in traditional foods, alternative health, raising chickens and milk goats, and building a small, sustainable house with her husband, Casey. More of Erin’s thoughts on all things food, nutrition, farm, and home can be found at her website, Natural Wonderer.

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  1. Charlotte Moore says:

    This is amazing!!!

  2. Just a quick question… if the charcoal isn’t supposed to be taken with other meds because it interferes with absorption… how is it OK to take in combination with Epinephrine? We have food allergies in our family, unfortunately a severe peanut one… and I was just curious! :)

    • Hi Devon- Epinephrine is injected directly into the bloodstream, so it bypasses the digestive tract and goes directly to work. If AC is taken it stays in the digestive tract and doesn’t enter the bloodstream. Although I can’t verify this, I would guess that it’s usefulness in the case of severe anaphylactic allergies would be in binding up as much of the offending food as possible before it enters the bloodstream and really has a chance to cause an effect. As I said in the post, I definitely would not rely on AC to stop an anaphylactic reaction, but it could be helpful in alleviating symptoms (as the research in the peanut study I mentioned suggests).

  3. How is charcoal – - – activated?

    • Activated charcoal is made one of two ways. The charcoal can be activated either with steam at extremely high temperatures or with certain chemicals, which are then washed out. I prefer the steam method, as it has less chance of contamination, but due to its binding properties, even if there was a tiny residue in the activated charcoal it would likely not pass into your body.

  4. We use AC all the time! I’ve read that it’s good for food allergies, even reversing wheat intolerance.

  5. please note that you have to use charcoal ONLY when you are in absolute need of it….for toxins or illness etc……charcoal cannot distinguish between the good stuff and the bad stuff in our body and absorbs whatever is there……if you add it to your daily diet you will also be losing all your nutrition…..
    Be careful…..

    • Thanks, Prema. That is definitely an important thing to note. As I mentioned in the post, the activated charcoal will bind nutrients as well as toxins, so it is definitely only a “use as needed” supplement!

  6. I have a question regarding UTI’s. My daughter gets them every 3 months and when she urinates she bleeds every time she gets them. This has been going on for a year and the doctor is not concern just says you can take antibiotics daily. Is there something you can suggest?

    • Depending on her age, perhaps some kind of cranberry extract and probiotics would be helpful? I’m not a dr., just someone who’s had a UTI and don’t want to get one again! =)

    • I would highly recommend D-Mannose for urinary tract infections. My mother had been suffering with them for a year or so and had terrible side effects from antibiotics. I found this supplement and has worked wonders for her. No infections and she feels like herself again. I don’t understand why Drs. don’t let patients know about these supplements instead of writing a script for an antibiotic. Good luck!

  7. I LOVE activated charcoal! My boyfriend woke up in the middle of the night, throwing up profusely with a severe stomach ache. I managed to slip him 2 charcoals, and he was back in bed, asleep, within ten minutes. I also use it for stomach aches, even without nausea. Another good one is if you’re sensitive to a certain medicine and take too much. Doctor told me to be on ibuprofin around the clock, and I ended up with crippling stomach pain because of it. Took 2 charcoal pills, then 2 more about 4 hours later, and was fine within 6 hours without having to throw up. Best purchase I have made.

    • Totally agree! We using during a stomach virus in our house. It worked for me when I was on bedrest, vomiting, and started having contractions. I just took two, and I didn’t throw up anymore. Now we take about 6 caps at the onset of nausea, and it CAN prevent the vomiting (then 2 caps every hour till nausea is gone). The large dose at first matters! We use it for our children, all six and under as well–just mix into raw honey (3-4 caps on 1st dose). I have a bottle in my purse and car just in case! I am glad to see that it can be used for allergies, as I haven’t tried that, and need to. Thanks for the insightful post!