activated charcoalToday at the farmer’s market speaking from one herbalist to another, I was reminded that activated charcoal is a simple treatment to use. That will be my topic for today. It has been years and years since I’ve been sick with anything and even longer since I’ve had any kind of stomach or gastrointestinal illness. Activated charcoal can help.

But first, welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back veteran homestead-loving regulars. That you so much for stopping by the FarmCast. I appreciate you all so much. First up on the agenda, I’m so excited to share with you all the great activity going on at the farm this week.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • Stomach Virus – Traditional Remedy
  • Ginger Tea with Honey and Lemon

Homestead Life Updates

The Quail

We have 47 quail eggs in the incubator. These little guys are a joy to raise. They are so hardy. We started with 24 hatchlings and still have 23. The only one we lost was due to a snake. With baby chicks, almost always you lose one or two – or more – due to failure to thrive or some early disease. Not so with quail. We had them outside before they were 2 weeks old. Almost fully feathered, they were fine with the temps in the 70s during the day and high 50s and low 60s at night. They are hardy birds.

In less than three weeks we will have new babies.

The Creamery

The concrete block walls to the milking parlor are complete. There is a video on Facebook with a short tour of that part of the building. Scott has spent quite a bit of time today moving the milking parlor equipment into the area. For the longest time it has been stored just waiting for this moment. Who knows when the actual installation will happen, but it is exciting to see the first portion of the creamery coming into being? In addition to the milking parlor equipment installation, it still needs a roof. There is still so much to do.

The Cows

The cows are moooving along nicely and munching down on all that grass. If you’ve never been around cows you are missing the perfect example of peace in action. One of the reasons that I wanted a milk cow in the first place is the sense of peace that comes from working with them and there is no closer relationship that when you are milking them. They are truly beautiful creatures. Smelly but beautiful.

We still have one more bull calf available. You can call us at 276-694-4369 to get more information on these guys. There are two to choose from, but we are only selling one. The last one we will keep for beef. He will take a couple of years to grow out, but these Normande cows make some great steaks and roasts.

Speaking of beef, we have a limited quantity of beef available. This will be the last for a while so get in touch with us now if you are interested in a quarter or a half.

The Lambs

The lambs and goat kids are frolicking in the grass and growing like weeds. It is amazing how fast they grow. The lambs and kids are nearly the height of their mothers already. Watching them get down on their knees to nurse is comical. Well, it doesn’t look like so much fun for mom, but they seem to patiently endure. They are all old enough to be weaned and we will separate them in the next couple of weeks. It is important to get the boys out for sure. Otherwise, we end up with unauthorized breeding and we can’t have that. No we can’t have that.

The Garden

Let’s talk about the garden. The tomatoes are coming on strong. I have lots of them sitting on shelves ripening. I would prefer to pick them when they are already ripe but the raccoons make that impossible. Every night they go out into the garden and pick a few and take a bite or two out of them. Then they get another one and take a bite or two out of that one and so on. These guys are grabbing them before they even get all the way red. I wonder if they would like fried green tomatoes. No matter. I’ve taken things into hand and am just circumventing their intrusiveness and picking the tomatoes as soon as they show any sign of ripening. The plan is to make lots and lots of tomato sauce. I made some last year for the first time. It was much easier than I thought and I look forward to making more this year. I use tomatoes in stews. I use a lot of tomatoes in stews. Up to four quarts in a 4-gallon batch. If I use tomato sauce instead, I think I can use 2 pints instead. Much less storage space for the tomatoes.

Last night we shelled Mississippi Silver Crowder peas. There is a large bowl ready to be cooked and eaten. There will also be some left over to be canned. I love growing these. The plants are resistant to everything and they put on lots and lots of pea pods. The pods are 7-8 inches long with about 20 peas per pod. They shell easily and they taste of good. They can be dried and cooked similar to black-eyed peas, but I prefer these to be green and I like to add a few snapped green pods. Again, these are very easy to grow and produce very well.

The Orchard

We had a neighbor come over and pick some blackberries a few days ago. I simply do not have time to pick them and process them. Blackberries are a lot of work. I don’t like the seeds and always take the extra steps necessary to get the seeds out. It’s not really hard, but it is time consuming. Besides the issue of time, I still have tons of blackberry jam and blackberry syrup from last year. Our blackberries are always prolific. We grow several varieties of thorn-less and the berries are large and juicy.

I’m probably leaving out a bunch of other stuff that is happening here, but I’m going to close off the farm updates for this time.

The Farmer’s Markets

Oops I almost forgot to mention the Farmer’s Market. Come see us at the Wytheville Farmer’s market on Saturday mornings 8 am to noon. Starting this Friday you will also find us at the Independence Farmer’s market from 9 am to 1 pm. I’ll have lamb, beef and goat as well as lots of information on herd shares. Who knows, maybe even some cheese samples.

I was going to start at the Independence Farmer’s market this past Friday, but I had an incident that has not happened in many, many, many moons. I had a stomach virus or perhaps it was that salami. I don’t know. It was one or the other. In any case, I was sick as a dog for a good 12 hours. Let me tell that story and provide some info on the perfect remedy.

Activated Charcoal – Traditional Remedy for Nausea and Vomiting

And as I mentioned earlier, while at the Wytheville Farmer’s market I spoke with another herbalist and she reminded me of activated charcoal when having issues with stomach upset. In the heat of the sickness I was trying to think of what to do and I was so sick I couldn’t remember what I had on hand to deal with it. When she promptly said “activated charcoal”, it was one of those face-palm moments. Of course, I have tons of it on hand for exactly that purpose. Number one, I’m almost never sick and number two, my head hurt so bad I couldn’t think straight.

I did act on the headache. My sinuses were inflamed and I don’t know why. I was sure that a massive head cold was about to take me out for days. Well, I took out my trusty echinacea and goldenseal formula and dripped some directly into my nasal passage. It burns. Only a couple of drops but POOF, gone. No more sinus issues. If I could only have thought so quickly about the activated charcoal. It’s a matter of what I use more often and what I have never had the occasion to use. Now I’ve had the occasion to use it but didn’t but it’s unlikely I will forget next time. Let me give you the goods on activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal

Charcoal isn’t just for your backyard grill. Even though charcoal makes most of us think of glowing embers and yummy barbecued kabobs or steak, it has stomach soothing medicinal properties too. The CDC reports that 19 to 21 million Americans will get the stomach flu, and charcoal might just help you get back on your feet faster.

What is the Stomach Flu?

What’s often referred to as stomach flu, stomach bugs, or even food poisoning can be caused by bacterial infections or viruses. This inflammation of your gastrointestinal tract might be referred to as gastroenteritis or norovirus, but in either case the symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. The illness comes on quickly and can have you off your feet from one to three days. Common treatment recommendations include drinking fluids, getting rest, and following the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) diet. None of those are on my eating list so an old Native American remedy would have been a much better option.

What is activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal is made with a variety of burned materials including bamboo, wood, coal, or coconut shells. This treatment was used by Native Americans hundreds of years ago, and there’s even some record of it being used by Egyptians. Activated charcoal is processed at high temperatures and results in a black powder that is incredibly effective at absorbing a variety of substances. Charcoal is “activated” when a high temperature is used in combination with an activating agent that expand its surface area. This is what gives activated charcoal its incredible absorbing powers.

Why do people take activated charcoal?

Most commonly used to treat poisoning and drug overdoses, activated charcoal is now gaining attention as a remedy for stomach bugs that cause nausea and vomiting. The theory is that activated charcoal can absorb the bacteria responsible for causing stomach flu (the same way it is used to absorb poisons). You can also have a virus that can cause the same sort of tummy troubles, and activated charcoal may help with the symptoms.

How should I take charcoal?

You can buy activated charcoal online in capsules or powder. If you feel the nauseating symptoms of a stomach bug coming on, or if you are actively vomiting, you can put the powder in some applesauce, if you have capsules you can open them up. A common recommendation is 500 to 1,000 mg, two to three times per day. It is recommended that you take other supplements at different time as the charcoal can absorb good nutrients as well as the bad stuff. If you notice any worsening symptoms after taking the supplement stop taking and call your doctor.

It’s important to note that activated charcoal should be bought from pharmacies and health food stores, it is not the same as regular charcoal. Activated charcoal, unlike regular charcoal, is food grade and safe to take internally.

You can give it to children, but check with your pediatrician beforehand. If you get the okay, start with ¼ of a capsule (about 200 mg) in some applesauce and repeat no more than 2 times a day. If you or your child continue to have abdominal pain or persistent fever, you must see your doctor. Home remedies are great but they are not the be-all, end-all for medical treatment.

Side Effects & Safety

Activated charcoal is safe for most adults when used short-term. Side effects of activated charcoal include constipation and black stools. More serious, but rare, side effects are a slowing or blockage of the intestinal tract, regurgitation into the lungs, and dehydration.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Activated charcoal might be safe when used short-term if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, but consult with your healthcare professional before using if you are pregnant.

Don’t use activated charcoal if you have any kind of intestinal obstruction. Also, if you have a condition that slows the passage of food through your intestine (reduced peristalsis), don’t use activated charcoal, unless you are being monitored by your healthcare provider.

Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs) interact with Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal absorbs substances in the stomach and intestines. Taking activated charcoal along with medications taken by mouth can decrease how much medicine your body absorbs, and decrease the effectiveness of your medication. To prevent this interaction, take activated charcoal at least one hour after medications you take by mouth.

Alcohol Interacts with Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is sometimes used to prevent poisons from being absorbed into the body. Taking alcohol with activated charcoal might decrease how well activated charcoal works to prevent poison absorption.

Syrup of Ipecac Interacts with Activated Charcoal

Ipecac is taken by mouth to cause vomiting after suspected poisoning. It is also used to treat bronchitis associated with croup in children, Amoebic dysentery (a severe diarrhea), and cancer. Ipecac is also used as an expectorant to thin mucous and make coughing easier. Small doses are used to improve appetite.

Activated charcoal can bind up syrup of ipecac in the stomach. This decreases the effectiveness of syrup of ipecac.

For lesser stomach issues there are lots of teas that can help.

Ginger Tea with Honey and Lemon

Ginger tea has been used for thousands of years as a cure for nausea and digestive problems. It offers a variety of health benefits and healing compounds to alleviate upset stomach. Many people reach for the ginger ale when feeling symptoms of stomach pain or nausea, but ginger tea contains higher concentrations of the compounds that alleviate these digestive issues; making it the better choice for feeling better faster.

This tea is made using fresh ginger root and packs a punch when it comes to healing symptoms of upset stomach. Ginger is a natural remedy for nausea and is often used to treat morning sickness in pregnant women and motion sickness caused by planes and boats.

In fact, a Thai study examined pregnant women with symptoms of morning sickness and found that 28 out of the 32 individuals saw an improvement in nausea when given a daily dose of 1 milligram of ginger root. As a rule of thumb, one cup of ginger tea contains about 250 milligrams of ginger so aim to drink two to four cups of this tea to alleviate feelings of nausea.

What You Need

  • 1” Fresh ginger root, grated
  • ½ Lemon
  • Honey, to taste
  • 2 cups water


  • Grater
  • Glass container or teapot
  • Strainer

What To Do

  1. Peel one-inch piece of fresh ginger root and grate into a glass container with a filter.
  2. Thinly slice lemon and add it to the container with the ginger.
  3. Add honey.
  4. Pour boiling hot water into the container and steep for five minutes.
  5. Strain and serve hot.

Final Thoughts

Are you keeping up with all the stuff going on at the homestead? It’s a lot to handle but we love it. The cows, sheep, goats, donkeys and quail are a barnyard variety that keeps us in a constant state of wonder and amusement. These guys are a hoot. We love sharing it all with you. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and come see us at the Farmer’s markets in Wytheville and Independence. Or heck, come see us on the farm. Tuesday mornings and Saturday afternoons. We’d love to share some of this more directly.

Get some activated charcoal and keep it on hand for that occasional stomach upset. It doesn’t to bad. There is no expiration date. It is the porous form that absorbs the toxins and that doesn’t change once created.

And remember that mild upsets can be alleviated with a little ginger tea.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. Also, please share it with any friends or family who might be interested in this type of content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

Recipe Link

Ginger Tea with Honey and Lemon

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