Medicinal charcoal



Medicinal charcoal
Medicinal charcoal
in the course of time
in the Ancient Egypt, Carbo medicinalis has been used as adsorbent up to our days
is offered and used on the
one hand as activated charcoal, on the other hand as purely vegetable, non-activated charcoal. In the
21st century, activated charcoal took
the role of a well-proven and multipurpose adsorption substance which
was also used in the non-medical field.
Today, the crude activated charcoal
is produced by pyrolisis at approx.
600°-900° C, the possible starting
materials are wood, peat or cellulose.
The pyrolysis product can be activated by subsequent oxydation, thus
increasing the charcoal surface due to
additional pores – a central parameter
for the adsorption properties which
can be adjusted by means of sophisticated production processes in function of the scheduled use. Vegetable,
non-activated charcoal has a lower
surface activity and thus only certain
targeted poisons are adsorbed. Therefore, activated charcoal is rather used
for detoxification or for treatment of
acute diarrhoea, while non-activated
charcoal, in combination with laxative substances, has a rather regulating effect in the intestinal tract.
The medical use of wood charcoal has
a millenary tradition and started in
1550 before Christ in Ancient Egypt.
400 before Christ, at the time of Hippokrates, charcoal was used for treatment of epilepsy, vertigo and flatulences. In 1773, the chemist Scheele
recognized the adsorptive power of
charcoal for gases, in 1831 the pharmacist Touery took the tenfold letal
dose of strychnine combined with 15
g charcoal and he survived this exper-
Trenka Eukarbon Engl. Übersetzun1 1
iment. In the middle of the 19th century, Garrod and Rand succeeded in
proving the benefit of wood charcoal
in a variety of intoxications. Moreover, the two scientists examined
the influence of different poisons
and charcoal doses on the observed antidote effect as
well as the temporal dependencies between
poison intake
and charcoal application. In later assays, evaluation of the sanitary effects
of medicinal charcoal was no longer
based on the poisoning symptomatology but on modern chemical and analytical procedures.
As mentioned before, what makes
charcoal so interesting for medical
use, is its binding capacity. So, 1 g has
an adsorbing surface of approx. 2000
square meters. The adsorptive power
of activated charcoal is surprisingly
high, not only in terms of the variety
of the adsorbed compounds but also
in terms of the quantity of adsorbable
substance. Another important characteristic is the chemical behaviour
which is practically inert - an essential
reason for the innocuousness of the
substance. A great therapeutical benefit can be found in the fact that medicinal charcoal is not only able to remove
poisons from the gastrointestinal tract
but also already absorbed lipophilic
compounds from the plasma or tissue.
For very lipophilic poisons the bowel
epithelium is permeable in both directions, they arrive by passive diffusion
from the plasma into the bowel and
can there be adsorbed by the charcoal
and excreted with the faeces. When
orally taking charcoal – not only in
case of poisoning but also in case of
diarrhoea, flatulences or bloating – interactions with other simultaneously
taken medicines (e.g. anti-epileptics,
oral anticoagulants, neuroleptics, hormonal contraceptives) should be taken
into account. Due to their binding to
the activated charcoal, the effect of
drugs can be impacted, it is therefore
recommended to take other drugs at
least one hour before charcoal, in case
of chlorpropamide or cardiac glucosides two hours are reasonable.
Medicinal charcoal:
Advantages and disadvantages:
+ non-toxic, quickly available
+ binds fermentation products, like pepsin, trypsin or lipases, gases and poisons
+ unlimited shelf life
+ effective in the gastrointestinal tract
+ effective against already ab-
sorbed poisons
- counter indicated for corrosive poisons
- neutralises other oral antidotes
- high dose
16.11.2009 09:21:07

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