When it comes to compiling a comprehensive first-aid box to keep around the house, the last thing you’ll think of is something like charcoal. However, it’s a critical part of anyone’s preparedness kit…

Charcoal, really?

No, not the braai kind!

We’re talking about activated charcoal, suitable for consumption.

You’ll find it in powdered or capsule form in most pharmacies and health stores.

Either form works well.

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Powdered would need to be mixed with a little water, and can be a little messy but is super fast acting.

Capsules take a little longer to work, but are neater and easier to administer.

Why do I need it?

Charcoal, as it passes through the digestive system, absorbs almost everything surrounding it in the gut.

This means it’s a critical first aid helper to administer in cases of suspected poisoning.

It’s also great to have on hand if the family has a case of food poisoning, as it helps absorb the toxins from the gut and makes the episode shorter and less upsetting.

Ladies, it’s also a great helper for those days where you’re a little too bloated or gassy for that stunning little black dress!

It’s suitable for pets who may have ingested something they shouldn’t, too.

A note of caution

Charcoal really does absorb most things as it passes through the digestive system.

So, while it’s great to get nasties out of your system when needed, it shouldn’t be taken regularly as it can prevent proper vitamin and mineral absorption.

Also, where possible, try to use it at least two hours before and after any chronic medications (especially thyroid and diabetes meds) and vitamin pills as it will absorb them too, thereby preventing them from doing their work.