Activated charcoal tablets

This remedy is not just applicable for Crohn’s, please read on for my comments on how this applies to colitis and IBS as well, at the end of the article.

I’ll also give you the protocols I prefer to use and we’ll talk a bit about using Bentonite Clay as an alternative to activated charcoal.

But first, let’s look at Dr. Kenigsberg’s amazing experiment with rats and activated charcoal…

Testing Charcoal As Crohn’s Remedy

By Jamie Talan, Staff Writer

A pill containing activated charcoal is being tested to treat Crohn’s disease in a clinical trial that came about, in large part, because of Dr. Kenneth Kenigsberg, a retired pediatric surgeon at North Shore University Hospital.

Kenigsberg, 76, likes to say he spent 45 years as a plumber, navigating the complex terrain of the young human body, removing problems. Instead of retiring, he headed into the laboratory at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, part of North Shore University-Long Island Jewish Health System.

Three years ago, a lab colleague studying tubular cells in livers noticed a lot of tumor necrosis factor, a protein produced by immune cells that target tumors and inflammation.

Kenigsberg used his “plumbing” skills to help his colleague. He triggered sepsis, a life-threatening infection, in a rat, inserted a tube into its liver and removed its bile, where he found a buildup of tumor necrosis factor, TNF. He knew that the liver drains into the intestine, and that too much TNF could be toxic. It was then he got the idea of using charcoal. An age-old treatment for poisoning, charcoal soaks up toxins. He took rats and mice, made them septic, and fed charcoal to half his subjects. Those that were fed charcoal lived. The others died.

People with Crohn’s have high levels of TNF when they are sick. The condition, which affects 500,000 Americans, is marked by bowel inflammation. It flares up and goes into remission like other so-called autoimmune diseases. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue and vomiting.

Treatments for Crohn’s, which has no cure, include antibiotics and corticosteroids. The latest treatment is an expensive drug called Remicade, an antibody against TNF. It’s infused every few months, at $5,000 per treatment.

What if charcoal did the trick? Kenigsberg got permission to conduct a clinical trial, both from his hospital and from the Food and Drug Administration. He’s been enrolling patients over 18 years old experiencing the active phase of the disease. He draws blood to test immune markers associated with Crohn’s. Then, after three weeks without treatment, patients take six charcoal pills in the morning and six at night for three weeks.

January 20, 2006
Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

This article is very interesting, but it is still a treatment aimed at alleviating a symptom – not getting to the root cause. Why are TNF levels elevated in people with Crohn’s? Why is the body producing a substance that combats inflammation? Why are the intestines inflamed?

Again, the more I read and the more of my readers I hear from, the more convinced I am that Crohn’s (and colitis) has an infectious etiology (cause). The body is not “overreacting” with the immune system inappropriately in “attack mode”. But rather, the body is doing everything it can to combat legitimate intestinal infection. And the best research we have at this time points to that new fungal/bacterial hybrid organism called mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP) as being the infectious agent. For those of you who have my Listen To Your Gut book, you can read all about mycobacterium, why they’ve gone undetected for so long, and where to get tested in Chapter 2 of Listen To Your Gut.

Getting back to this article, the charcoal may also provide relief as it traps and flushes bad bacteria, fungi, viruses and other toxins from your system – like Bentonite Clay does. Bentonite clay is a remedy I recommend as a short-term or periodic detox or anti-pathogen agent – thereby reducing infection in the gut for crucial periods.

Bentonite has a very fine, velveteen feel and is odorless and non-staining. Bentonite Clay is primarily used for two reasons: it is good at firming up stool and alleviating diarrhea and it is also an excellent detoxification agent. It’s unique molecular structure adsorbs toxins, pathogens, poisons, and carries them out of the gut (to be excreted in stool).

However, bentonite may also carry out good bacteria (more studies are needed), which is why I don’t recommend it (or charcoal) ongoing. The cornerstone of healing your gut long-term is to restore a good, healthy microbiota – so cleansing must be balanced with probiotic intake (via supplements, or homemade yoghurt, fermented foods, raw milk, etc).

Whether you’re using activated charcoal or bentonite clay, take your dose on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before any food, or two hours after eating – this gives the clay or charcoal enough time to do it’s work unhampered by digestion.

Bentonite and activated charcoal are also not sufficient on their own to eradicate gut infection – especially dealing with bacterial/fungal hybrids like Mycobacterium (MAP).

Unless ALL of the infectious agents are eradicated, the body will still produce an inflammatory reaction.

That is why I still feel the best treatment for Crohn’s, colitis and diverticulitis (and moderate to severe IBS) includes:

1. Jini’s Wild Oregano Oil Protocol* to eradicate all infectious microorganisms. New trials have now confirmed that wild oregano oil does indeed kill MAP – but again, as I point out in Listen To Your Gut, MAP has a dormant/active lifecycle, so you have to treat every 3-4 months for 2-3 years to completely eradicate it. Use olive leaf extract if you don’t tolerate wild oregano, or alternate between the two. This is the place where you can also use bentonite clay or activated charcoal for additional pathogen elimination.

2. Followed by Jini’s Probiotic Retention Enema and high dose oral probiotic supplementation* to repopulate the gut with good, protective bacteria to ensure good digestion/absorption, and prevent contracting any new infections. If you can tolerate raw dairy, you should also consume large amounts of raw homemade yoghurt and raw milk during this time – raw cow, goat, camel or sheeps milk are all good.

3. Targeted supplements to heal and restore the mucosal lining and tissues of the GI tract (e.g. L-Glutamine, MucosaCalm, NAG, George’s Aloe Vera, etc.).

4. Endocrine (hormonal) system assessment and rebalancing/healing as needed (for anyone who’s been on any prescription drugs or had the diseases for longer than 2 years).

5. Emotional, dietary and lifestyle healing/balancing to promote long-term health and prevent recurrence of dis-ease (imbalance).

*Steps 1 and 2 may need to be repeated every 3-4 months for a period of 2-3 years to completely eradicate pathogenic miccroorganisms with dormant/active life cycles, like mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP).

Again, those of you who have Listen To Your Gut will already have in your hands detailed instructions for all of these protocols and supplements – and I hope you’re doing the Workbook! (in the Bonus Tools Package).


This article was originally published in May 2010. Updated March 2020.