At the turn of the 20th century medical doctors were still prescribing, of all things, strychnine for insomnia and morning sickness in pregnant mothers. By the 1960s, doctors had all but discarded the use of strychnine and in its place were prescribing a new wonder drug for insomnia and morning sickness called Thalidomide. The adverse side effects of Thalidomide were so profound and startling that the drug was soon outlawed. (In 1998 it was again re-approved by the FDA) Are patent drugs any safer in the 21st century? Well that is debatable, but there is a natural medicine that has been used for ages to help with the discomfort of morning sickness and has no known adverse side effects - charcoal.
Charcoal has been shown to relieve many of the unpleasant symptoms of morning sickness during pregnancy, such as bloating, gas pains, nausea, and vomiting. This has been well understood for a long time. The real question is not will charcoal help with these symptoms of morning sickness associated with pregrnancy, but what about the devoloping child?
Some websites strongly suggest that activated charcoal will somehow compromise the nutritional uptake of the developing unborn child, but that has yet to be shown in any of the research literature. If anyone finds actual research that shows charcoal is detrimental please forward us the link. We would very much like to review any such literature.
Some women experience constipation during pregnancy. They need to be more mindfull to drink enough water. For the symptoms of morning sickness these women may want to stir some charcoal powder in with some sweet vegetable oil - like olive oil.
We understand a mother's concern, you want your developing baby to have all the nutrients necessary. The largest producer of medicinal grade charcoal in the world, NORIT, which supplies most hospitals around the world, states on their site that as far as is known, "activated charcoal may be taken during pregnancy and lactation." It is unfortunate that there is some misinformation being widely circulated about the efficacy and safety of medicinal charcoal, but the FDA has rated charcoal as "Safe & Effective"
Here is our reply to a mother using a homeopathic remedy (Colic Calm) for infant colic with the same concern for her infant:
The FDA rates charcoal as "Safe & Effective".
To date I am not aware of any negative consequences to the long term use of activated charcoal made from plant based charcoals. Those who have a history of sluggish digestion and constipation can be further bound up with charcoal if they do not keep well hydrated. There is some suggestion that mega doses of activated charcoal made from coal can bind some essential nutrients. The dose of activated charcoal in Colic Calm is very very small and yet the remedy is very effective....
But to put this in perspective, the standard infant dose for accidental poisoning or drug overdose is 15 to 25 grams of activated charcoal powder mixed in water repeated 2 or 3 times in 8 hours. That is the equivalent of up to seven and a half tablespoons of charcoal powder.
People who have ostomies (part of their lower bowel removed because of diseased bowels) who are obviously nutritionally compromised show no nutritional deficiencies when taking activated charcoal on a daily basis for years. Neither do livestock given charcoal daily as a nutritional supplement. In fact it has been shown that the lifespan of old laboratory rats can be extended by up to 34% when given Activated Charcoal powder daily. Hundreds of thousands of people, several times a week, for multiple years, are hooked up to a kidney dialysis machine that filters bad dirty blood. Activated charcoal is used to purify the water used in these life-extending machines, and sometimes, as in liver dialysis machines, the blood is actually filtered through a filter that includes a bed of granular charcoal - it prolongs their life!
So, as far as the actual scientific literature shows, there is no compromise to infant health or pregnant/nursing mothers when given Activated Charcoal powder daily.
The use of charcoal for the discomforts of pregnancy go back a long ways. Notice these two references from the King's American Dispensatory (1898), an The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology & Therapeutics (1922)
"It is also useful in acidity of the stomach, flatulency [gas], and in the nausea and constipation attending pregnancy."
"Its absorbent and deodorant properties make charcoal a splendid agent to absorb putrid gases from the stomach and bowels. It is indicated by offensive breath and disagreeable belching. In acidity of the stomach, gastric distention, nausea and vomiting, sick headache with gaseous belching, fetid diarrhea, and sometimes in the acid vomiting of pregnancy, charcoal is a most effective agent. It may be combined, plain or aromatized with oil of peppermint…”
Now retired but an active public health speaker, Doctor Calvin, NMD, for many years directed a 22-bed hospital in Montemorelos, Mexico. While he regularly used and recommended charcoal, he explained that his favorite formula was to mix it with an equal amount of clay in poultices. But one experience of using just plain old charcoal still causes him to chuckle.
“I was coming back through Guatemala on my way to Texas, and who do I see but Linda [the daughter-in-law of another doctor friend] hitch-hiking along the Pan American highway. Of course I stopped, and picked her up. She was very pregnant! She was expecting their second child and, while her husband stayed with their first child, she was headed back to see her family in California.
She was experiencing severe diarrhea – perhaps a complication of the pregnancy or from dysentery or both. I was having to stop every five minutes to let her have another ‘emergency’. Finally I told her, “We are never going to make it to Texas at this rate.” So I stopped in at some drugstores looking to buy some charcoal, but no one had any. As we were driving on, I noticed a thatched house about two hundred feet back from the road with smoke curling up through the roof. I knew they must have been cooking. So, I stopped and ran down to the house and asked the woman if I could look through her firebox for some coals. She said that it was okay [Well, what would you have said?]. I was able to find a few large pieces. As I blew of the ashes, I asked her what kind of wood she was burning. It turned out to be cedar. I thanked her and took it back up to the truck. I told Linda, “Here chew on this”. For the next ten miles she did just that, and the diarrhea cleared up. She had no more ‘emergencies’ all the way back to Texas, where I put her on a bus to California.” CharcoalRemedies.com page 130
I would encourage you to purchase the book CharcoalRemedies.com The Complete Handbook of Medicinal Charcoal. You will find it a most practical book to have on hand - as the Medical Examiner for the State of Georgia agrees. It also includes a story of a young mother with horrible morning sickness who experienced the same relief you have and thousands of other pregnant mothers.
A couple other suggestions to help prevent the bloating etc. Chew food very well and slowly. Have only a few varieties of food at each meal. No snacking. Drink only water or herb teas between meals. Avoid combining fruits and vegetables at the same meals. Do not sit or lie down after meal times. Do some light exercise/walking after you eat. These suggestions have helped many mothers control the symptoms of morning sickness.