Activated Charcoal for Pouchitis


We had a call from an individual looking for activated charcoal to treat his pouchitis. Pouchitis is inflammation of the ileal pouch, a surgically created pouch next the anus in the management of patients with ulcerative colitis, and indeterminate colitis. Patients with pouchitis typically suffer with bloody diarrhea, urgency in passing stools, or discomfort while passing stools. Pain is not common. Standard treatment is antibiotics.

This man had been involved in a research group at a famous medical research center testing the effectiveness of activated charcoal product in the management of pouchitis. In his case, and in the cases of most of the other participants, the results with activated charcoal had been very gratifying to say the least. Now that he was on his own he was trying to duplicate the test product which was in the form of a small ball. This was inserted into the ileal pouch through the anus (as one would with a suppository) and brought rapid relief. Because the product was of some size and rounded he thought large granular charcoal might also work. We assured him that whatever the test product was it was not plain granular charcoal, and that it would prove to be more irritating than healing.

We did not hear again from him. But I have to wonder if a substitute charcoal “ball” could be made with starch. Heating water, starch, and charcoal together will form a thick doughy product. When cooled it could be fashioned into a marble-sized balls and placed on a greased pan. The pan could then be put in a barely warm oven overnight for the balls to thoroughly dry. If the balls were moistened before inserting into the anus they should enter more easily.

if anyone experiments with this idea, please let us know how it worked.