Activated Charcoal for Gluten Exposure

Taking activated charcoal for gluten exposure with celiac disease or gluten intolerance is not a clinically proven practice.

However, many people will suggest you take activated charcoal if you’ve been glutened, despite the lack of evidence.

So let’s talk all things activated charcoal: what it is, why it’s used, and if you should really take it when glutened.

Should You Take Activated Charcoal for Gluten Exposure​ - Tayler Silfverduk, celiac dietitian(1)

What is Activated Charcoal

Per WebMD, Activated charcoal is a supplement made from charcoal that’s been activated by “high temperatures combine[d] with a gas or activating agent to expand its surface area.

It’s used in hospitals to help treat overdoses and poisoning. It does this by binding to the offending drugs or poisons and flushing it out.

This ability to bind to some medications and poisons and flush it out is why people think it may be helpful with gluten exposure.

The idea is that activated charcoal will bind to gluten and flush it out if you get glutened.

However, there is no evidence that activated charcoal binds to gluten nor is their evidence that it helps with either celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

That being said, there is anecdotal evidence (people’s experiences) that it may help with gas and diarrhea after gluten exposure. However, there are many other safer options that may help (see my post on celiac bloating for tips).

Should You Take it for Gluten Exposure?

Should you take activated charcoals for gluten exposure? Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide.

To make a fully informed decision, I encourage you to talk to your doctor to make sure it is safe and will not interfere with your medications.

And if you do take activated charcoal, there are a few things to remember. First, it’s best taken within an hour of exposure to the offending agent. However, in regards to activated charcoal for gluten exposure, remember there’s no evidence that it actually binds to gluten.

Second, remember to stay hydrated when taking activated charcoal. And lastly, space out when you take it away from meal-times and other medications and supplements.

While I personally wouldn’t take activated charcoal for gluten exposure, I do have a complete guide on what to do when you’ve been glutened if you’re looking for safer gluten exposure soothing strategies.

What About Activated Charcoal and Leaky Gut

I cringe every time I see someone recommend activated charcoal for gut health. First, there are so many incredibly impactful things you can do to heal your gut aside from take supplements.

Second, leaky gut whether it’s from intestinal damage from celiac or something else, means you’re not absorbing nutrients like you should be.

Adding a supplement that will bind and impair nutrient absorption to your supplement routine like activated charcoal, is extremely contraindicated.

And again, there is no clinical evidence suggesting the use of activated charcoal to heal increased intestinal permeability, or leaky gut.

The best ways to heal your gut go far beyond just taking a pill. I know supplements are easy, but often they are a distraction from doing the true healing work.

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