Research Outline

Activated Charcoal Benefits for SIBO


To learn about the benefits, mode of action, and contraindications of activated charcoal for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) for the purposes of gaining knowledge on the subject.

Early Findings

Mode of Action

  • Activated charcoal works by absorbing toxic chemicals and dead bacteria in the stomach and intestines.
  • According to Dr. Will Cole, "When charcoal is activated by heating at high temperatures in airtight spaces it breaks down into a fine black powder. This powdered form increases its power through creating more surface area which gives the activated charcoal the ability to adsorb."
  • Charcoal should be used in conjunction with detoxification, which kills the overactive bacteria in the small intestine. The charcoal is what helps move the dead bacteria out of the body.
  • The activated charcoal, when taken in oral form, will attract toxins and bacteria as it moves through the body, exiting through bowel movements.


  • For digestive health, activated charcoal not only absorbs dead bacteria, it also "minimizes the gaseous air found in the digestive system."
  • According to Dr. Eric Regier, approximately "96% cases of bloated stomach are due to SIBO," so minimizing the gaseous air in the digestive system is a main benefit of activated charcoal for treating SIBO.
  • SIBO is often triggered by food poisoning, but activated charcoal can "help the body to expel irritants after food poisoning."
  • Based on the study "Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: Novel Insight in the Pathogenesis and Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome," a 400 mg dose of activated charcoal for seven days decreased H2 in SIBO patients, which then decreased "flatus episodes."