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Charcoal As A Toxin Binder

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Activated Charcoal/Carbon As A Toxin Binder

Activated carbon/charcoal is a general adsorptive material with a large surface area and excellent adsorptive capacity. It is recommended as a general toxin adsorbing agent, and is routinely recommended for various digestive toxicities. Activated carbon is one of the best absorbants in the non-toxic group of absorbants.  It’s ability to absorb depends on pore size, and surface area.

Charcoal and Activated Charcoal Are Different

Charcoal is an organic carbon containing item such as wood, coconut shells, sawdust, even coal that was heated to really high temperatures in the absence of oxygen until the material basically degraded into a rich carbon that we call  charcoal.

Activated charcoal/carbon that is made with a high temperature and steam in the absence of oxygen. All the volatile compounds are removed and carbon atoms are pealed off, enlarging the internal pores and leaving a carbon skeleton. Once cooled it is either water-washed, or acid washed to remove soluble ash content. If acid washed, it is repeteadly water-washed to remove the acid.

Superactivated carbon/charcoal is a type of charcoal that has greater surface area than regular activated charcoal or carbon.

How Does Charcoal Bind Toxins

Many toxins are positively charged, and a binder that is negatively charged like charcoal will be attracted to them, and able to adsorb (attach to the toxin) many of them. The toxins are actually bound to and trapped by the charcoal. The charcoal and the toxin are then excreted in the feces if it is part of food ingestion, or if it is cycling through the enterohepatic circulation with the bile. Charcoal is not absorbed by the body. Therefore, if it binds a toxin in the intestinal tract, it and the toxin end up leaving the body during a bowel movement.

Charcoal is my go-to binder for any type of gastrointestinal bacterial infection. We know that charcoal has been used historically as an emergency aid for binding poisons and toxins of all kinds. It does bind some mycotoxins also, but studies show not all of them.

 

Nutrient Adsorption

In a study with cows where they gave them sequential amounts of charcoal it was found that activated carbon would improve the nutrient digestion when fed a poor-quaity feed that had mycotoxins ,and their milk quality increased, but when good quality forage was fed, activated carbon was not useful.

 

Charcoal Can Be Used Externally Too

I have had clients use a product called " charcoal body wash" by collective well being that works well for skin that is exposed to mycotoxins.

Using Charcoal As An Adsorbant for Mycotoxins

Activated charcoal has long been used medically for acute, delayed and chronic effects of toxins. Studies using activated charcoal to remove mycotoxins have shown some beneficial effects. However, I would point out in relation to mycotoxins in vitro (out of the body in a petri dish) studies have not correlated well with in vivo (in the body) results. Although activated charcoal binds mycotoxins in a petri dish most of the time, it turns out that many studies finds it falls short in adsorptive activity when fed to animals with mycotoxin contaminated feed. Additionaly, activated charcoal has all too often performed poorly compared to other binders.  I included comparison studies below with other binders when I refer to research so you know how each of these binders compare to each other in their binding capabilities. Some data is based on in vitro (out of body) research and some looks at toxins, or metaboites of toxins in urine, feces or body tissues to compare controls with animals/humans that are being used as research subjects. Please realize that you can not extrapolate data directly from animals to humans, but if we see the same pattern across many species of animals we can guess that it might be similar for humans.

A Problem With Consistancy In Charcoal Quality

It is possible some of the variable results using charcoal for mycotoxin removal could have to do with problems in how the activated charcoal is made.  A 2001 study claimed that the activated charcoals they tested had varied activity against mycotoxins with some of the products adsorbing most of the mycotoxins effectively while others had no affect against mycotoxicosis. Could it be that activated charcoal varies so much from company to company? Another  possible reason for the variability in charcoal studies is that charcoal is a general adsorbant. It has the ability to adsorb a variey of drugs, toxins and even nutrients. Therefore, is it possible that in a high nutrient diet, charcoal is adsorbing the nutrients and all its available binding sites are used up? There are animal studies showing charcoal works in low nutrient diets but not high nutrient diets.

Successful adsorption of aflatoxins in research has been shown by a vairety of substances, including phyllosilicate minerals ( phyllosilicates include micas, chlorite, serpentine, talc and clay minerals), zeolites (hydrated aluminosilicate minerals), activated charcoal, synthetic resins or yeast cell-wall-derived products, has been demonstrated in vitro and in vivo.

Aflatoxins: Although activated charcoal has binding capacity for aflatoxin B1 in virto, when used in vivo it is often not significant in comparison to clay as shown below or yeast. There is an old article indicating charcoal worked great for acute aflatoxin poisoning in goats, but studies since then are not very convincing for using charcoal for aflatoxins. Aluminosilicates (clays) are a better choice for aflatoxin adsorption. Bentonites have been shown to be one of the better binders for aflatoxin in animal studies.

Aflatoxin: A study of aflatoxin binders in cows showed good results for sodium bentonite, and an esterified galactomannan, while showing no effect from activated carbon.

Aflatoxin and ochratoxin A: In a 2018 study (Bhatti SA et. al., in J. Sci Food Agric) where they compared the efficacy of Bentonite clay, and activated charcoal as well as Trichosporon mycotoxinivorans (a yeast) they were all found to protect birds from aflatoxin and ochratoxin A contaminated food. The researchers measured the aflatoxin residues in the birds livers and found the Charcoal decreased the aflatoxin Successful adsorption of aflatoxins in research has been shown by a vairety of substances, including phyllosilicate minerals ( phyllosilicates include micas, chlorite, serpentine, talc and clay minerals), zeolites (hydrated aluminosilicate minerals), activated charcoal, synthetic resins or yeast cell-wall-derived products, has been demonstrated in vitro and in vivo.residues by 16-72%, while bentonite cleared it by 41-87%, and trichosporon was not significant. Trichosporon did decrease the ochratoxin A residues by 39-84%, while the charcoal and bentonite were much less effective.

The order of efficacy in terms of lowering AFB1 residues in the liver was bentonite >charcoal > Trichosporon, while efficacy against OTA was Trichosporon > bentonite> charcoal .

TrichothecenesDeoxynivalenol (DON) and Zearalenone (ZON) were examined for in vitro mycotoxin binding capacity in an environment meant to simulate the temperatue, pH and passage time throgh the stomach and gut of a monogastric animal.

DON and ZON both have very different chemical structure than aflatoxin B1 and where charcoal is not a great binder for aflatoxin B1, it is for DON and ZON.(Charcoal binds DON well - one mineral clay, three humic substances and one yeast-derived product adsorbs DON efficiently. ZON has a polar group while DON lacks a comparable polar group. No adsorbent materials, with the exception of activated carbon, have shown relevant ability in binding the tricothecenes deoxynivalenol and nivalenol. 

Deoxynivalenol: Deoxynivalenol was given to a group of pigs all by itself and another group with activated charcoal. The pigs getting the bolus of deoxynivalenol showed significant levels of plasma blood levels of deoxynivalenol while the pigs getting charcoal with their yummy mycotoxin bolus had no detectable levels of deoxynivalenol.

Deoxynivalenol and Ochratoxin A: An in vitro study of activated charcoal/carbons’ binding capacity to ochratoxin and deoxynivalenol found them to have a high affinity for chemically different mycotoxins. The authors felt they could be considered multimycotoxin sequestering agents. Remember this is in vitro though.

Deoxynivalenol, Nivalenol, and Ochratoxin A: A  study of 14 absorbent materials to detoxify Fusarium mycotoxin deoxynivalenol, and nivalenol found only activated carbon to have effective binding capacity, and was also able to produce a significant reduction in intestinal mycotoxin absorption for ochratoxin A absorption.

Issues With Charcoal

Studies show binding effectiveness in vitro of 90% but not in vivo. Also, charcoal will absorb minerals in your body similar to the way it does in water filters.

 

How Charcoal May Support Gut Health

We know a healthy gut has healthy biofilm communities that support the absorption of nutrients. Using detox agents like charcoal to mop up certain poisons and toxic metabolites, may conceivably protect the gut biofilm, and ward off pathogenic biofilms. Charcoal shows life-extending effects in laboratory rats.

 

 

Research Articles

 

Toxins (Basel). 2014 Oct 21;6(10):2998-3004. doi: 10.3390/toxins6102998.

Efficacy of active carbon towards the absorption of deoxynivalenol in pigs.

Devreese M1, Antonissen G2, De Backer P3, Croubels S4.

Abstract
In order to assess the in vivo efficacy of mycotoxin binders, specific toxicokinetic parameters should be measured according to European guidelines. For this purpose, an absorption model in pigs is described with emphasis on absorption kinetics. Pigs received a single oral bolus of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol alone or in combination with active carbon (applied as mycotoxin binder). After administration of deoxynivalenol alone, significant plasma amounts of deoxynivalenol were detected and kinetic parameters were calculated using a one compartmental model. Activated carbon completely prevented the absorption of deoxynivalenol as no plasma amounts could be detected.
PMID:
25337799
Free PMC Article

 

Mycopathologia. 2001;151(3):147-53.

In vitro and in vivo studies to assess the effectiveness of cholestyramine as a binding agent for fumonisins.

Solfrizzo M1, Visconti A, Avantaggiato G, Torres A, Chulze S.

Abstract
Several adsorbent materials were tested at I mg/ml for their in vitro capacity to adsorb fumonisin B1(FB1) from aqueous solutions. Cholestyramine showed the best adsorption capacity (85% from a solution containing 200 microg/ml FB1) followed by activated carbon (62% FB1). Bentonite adsorbed only 12% of the toxin from a solution containing 13 microg/ml FB1, while celite was not effective even at the lowest tested FB1 concentration (3.2 microg/ml). Cholestyramine was tested in vivo to evaluate its capacity to reduce the bioavailability of fumonisins (FBs) in rats fed diet contaminated with toxigenic Fusarium verticillioides culture material. Rats were exposed for one week to FBs-free diet, FBs-contaminated diet containing 6 or 20 microg/g FB1 + FB2 and the same FBs-contaminated diet added of 20 mg/g cholestyramine. The increase of sphinganine/sphingosine (SA/SO) ratio in urine and kidney of treated rats was used as specific and sensitive biomarker of fumonisin exposure. The addition of cholestyramine to the FBs-contaminated diets consistently reduced the effect of FBs by reducing significantly (P < 0.05) both urinary and renal SA/SO ratios.

For more on different types of Biotoxin Removers.

 

Nephron. 1989;51(3):325-9.

Aluminum removal with hemodialysis, hemofiltration and charcoal hemoperfusion in uremic patients after desferrioxamine infusion. A comparison of efficiency.

Weiss LG1, Danielson BG, Fellström B, Wikström B.

Abstract

In order to compare the effectiveness of aluminum removal in uremic patients during extracorporeal treatment, 17 patients with endstage renal failure were given a desferrioxamine infusion of 40 mg/kg body weight after an ordinary dialysis treatment. Forty-eight hours later 7 patients were treated with hemodialysis, 6 with hemofiltration and 4 with a combination of hemodialysis and hemoperfusion. The clearance of aluminum was measured at different intervals. It was found that the aluminum clearance was 75 +/- 18 ml/min in hemofiltration compared to 30 +/- 10 ml/min in hemodialysis (p less than 0.001). A combination of hemodialysis and hemoperfusion with a charcoal column containing 100 g activated charcoal in series gave a total aluminum clearance of 56 +/- 11 ml/min. The total amount of aluminum in the ultrafiltrate after hemofiltration was found to be approximately 3 times as high (1,728 +/- 156 micrograms) as the total amount of aluminum in the hemodialysis water that had passed a single pass system during a 4-hour dialysis (576 +/- 104 micrograms). Our results indicate that hemofiltration or a combination of hemodialysis and hemoperfusion should be used to remove aluminum in patients with signs of severe aluminum accumulation such as encephalopathy or painful bone disease, because these methods are 2-3 times as effective as ordinary hemodialysis. In patients where aluminum has been accumulated but no severe symptoms occur hemodialysis gives a significant clearance of the aluminum desferrioxamine complex.

Aluminum removal in uremic patients after desferrioxamine infusion: is hemofiltration more effective than hemodialysis? [Nephron. 1990]

PMID: 2918944

 

 

Elsevier, Volume 90, Issue 4, April 2011, Pages 1471-1475

Removal of elemental mercury by bamboo charcoal impregnated with H2O2

Zengqiang Tan, , Jianrong Qiu, Hancai Zeng, Hao Liu, Jun XiangVALIDHTMLVALIDHTMLVALIDHTML

Abstract

Mercury emission from coal combustion is an increasing environmental concern due to its high volatility and toxicity, and activated carbon (AC) adsorption has been proven an effective mercury-control method, with high-cost limit. The renewable bioresource of bamboo constitutes an important precursor for activated carbon, and the bamboo charcoal (BC) may act as low-cost sorbent used in the mercury-control. The adsorptive potential of BC and modified BC using H2O2 for elemental mercury was investigated for the first time through a parametric study conducted with a bench-scale bed. The effects of pore structure and surface chemistry were investigated based on BET, XPS. Which suggest that BC materials have excellent adsorption potential for elemental mercury, especially after modified by H2O2. The modification using H2O2 altered the physical and chemical properties of BC materials, making the sorbents more effective in mercury adsorption even at a relative higher temperature, and the enhancing-effect was more obvious with increasing H2O2.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016236110006630

 

Mycopathologia. 2001;151(3):147-53.

In vitro and in vivo studies to assess the effectiveness of cholestyramine as a binding agent for fumonisins.

Solfrizzo M1, Visconti A, Avantaggiato G, Torres A, Chulze S.

Abstract
Several adsorbent materials were tested at I mg/ml for their in vitro capacity to adsorb fumonisin B1(FB1) from aqueous solutions. Cholestyramine showed the best adsorption capacity (85% from a solution containing 200 microg/ml FB1) followed by activated carbon (62% FB1). Bentonite adsorbed only 12% of the toxin from a solution containing 13 microg/ml FB1, while celite was not effective even at the lowest tested FB1 concentration (3.2 microg/ml). Cholestyramine was tested in vivo to evaluate its capacity to reduce the bioavailability of fumonisins (FBs) in rats fed diet contaminated with toxigenic Fusarium verticillioides culture material. Rats were exposed for one week to FBs-free diet, FBs-contaminated diet containing 6 or 20 microg/g FB1 + FB2 and the same FBs-contaminated diet added of 20 mg/g cholestyramine. The increase of sphinganine/sphingosine (SA/SO) ratio in urine and kidney of treated rats was used as specific and sensitive biomarker of fumonisin exposure. The addition of cholestyramine to the FBs-contaminated diets consistently reduced the effect of FBs by reducing significantly (P < 0.05) both urinary and renal SA/SO ratios.

 

Abstract
The dose-response relationship of activated charcoal in reducing serum cholesterol was determined and the effects of charcoal and cholestyramine were compared in patients with hypercholesterolaemia. In a cross-over study 7 patients ingested charcoal 4, 8, 16 or 32 g/day, and finally bran, each phase lasting for 3 weeks. Serum total and LDL-cholesterol were decreased (maximum 29% and 41%, respectively) and the ratio of HDL/LDL-cholesterol was increased (maximum 121%) by charcoal in a dose dependent manner. Ten further patients with severe hypercholesterolaemia ingested daily for 3 weeks, in random order, activated charcoal 16 g, cholestyramine 16 g, activated charcoal 8 g + cholestyramine 8 g, or bran. The concentrations of total and LDL-cholesterol were reduced by charcoal (23% and 29%, respectively), cholestyramine (31% and 39%) and their combination (30% and 38%). The ratio of HDL/LDL-cholesterol was increased from 0.13 to 0.23 by charcoal, to 0.29 by cholestyramine, and to 0.25 by their combination. Serum triglycerides were increased by cholestyramine but not by charcoal. Other parameters, including the serum concentrations of vitamin A, E and 25(OH)D3 remained unaffected. The changes in lipids only partly subsided during the 3-week bran phase. In general, the acceptability by the patients and the efficacy of activated charcoal, cholestyramine and their combination were about equal, but there were individual preferences for particular treatments.
PMID: 2612535 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

This article below is not research on a mix of ingredients, but it does compare clays, cellulose, yeast cell walls and charcoal.

Springer Plus - Open Acess
Evaluation of mycotoxin sequestering agents for aflatoxin and deoxynivalenol: an in vitro approach
Changsu Kong, Seung Youp Shin and Beob Gyun KimEmail author

Abstract
An experiment was conducted to determine the efficacy of mycotoxin sequestering agents for binding or degrading aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) and deoxynivalenol (DON) by an in vitro method. Ten toxin binder products including 5 bentonite clays (bentonite A, B, C, D, and E), 2 cellulose products (cellulose A and B), a yeast cell wall, an activated charcoal, and a mixture product containing minerals, microorganisms, and phytogenic substances were used in this experiment. An in vitro procedure was used to mimic the digestive process in pigs. The binding ability for AFB1 of the cellulose products was less compared with the values of other sequestering products (p < 0.05). The percent adsorption of AFB1 by bentonite clays, cellulose products, yeast cell wall product, activated charcoal product, and the mixture product were 92.5 (average of 5 bentonite products), −13.5 (average of 2 cellulose products), 92.7, 100.2, and 96.6, respectively. The respective values for DON were 3.24, 11.6, 22.9, 14.4, and 4.3. In conclusion, most toxin sequestering agents used in the present study had potential to bind AFB1 rather than DON based on the in vitro study which simulated the pH condition of the gastrointestinal tract of pigs.

Full article found here.

For more on different types of Biotoxin Removers.

 

Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1989;37(3):225-30.
Activated charcoal in the treatment of hypercholesterolaemia: dose-response relationships and comparison with cholestyramine.
Neuvonen PJ1, Kuusisto P, Vapaatalo H, Manninen V.

Abstract
The dose-response relationship of activated charcoal in reducing serum cholesterol was determined and the effects of charcoal and cholestyramine were compared in patients with hypercholesterolaemia. In a cross-over study 7 patients ingested charcoal 4, 8, 16 or 32 g/day, and finally bran, each phase lasting for 3 weeks. Serum total and LDL-cholesterol were decreased (maximum 29% and 41%, respectively) and the ratio of HDL/LDL-cholesterol was increased (maximum 121%) by charcoal in a dose dependent manner. Ten further patients with severe hypercholesterolaemia ingested daily for 3 weeks, in random order, activated charcoal 16 g, cholestyramine 16 g, activated charcoal 8 g + cholestyramine 8 g, or bran. The concentrations of total and LDL-cholesterol were reduced by charcoal (23% and 29%, respectively), cholestyramine (31% and 39%) and their combination (30% and 38%). The ratio of HDL/LDL-cholesterol was increased from 0.13 to 0.23 by charcoal, to 0.29 by cholestyramine, and to 0.25 by their combination. Serum triglycerides were increased by cholestyramine but not by charcoal. Other parameters, including the serum concentrations of vitamin A, E and 25(OH)D3 remained unaffected. The changes in lipids only partly subsided during the 3-week bran phase. In general, the acceptability by the patients and the efficacy of activated charcoal, cholestyramine and their combination were about equal, but there were individual preferences for particular treatments.
PMID: 2612535 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

 

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