Lying on the table next to the white pills, the black pills look strange and somehow incongruous. Yet they are therapeutic. They are pure carbon, actually activated charcoal. How did I come to be taking black pills?
I have suffered from digestive problems for many years, and have been on a limited diet (no milk products, no fat or oily food, no meat, no cabbage or waxy skinned vegetables). A few months ago I had a chronic cough, that did not seem to be due to a cold. I went to my GP and he diagnosed acid reflux as the cause and switched me from the antacid Ompradex to Lanton, which cured that problem. However, a few months later I was again stricken with problems of acidity and went to my GP who sent me to a gastroenterologist. He diagnosed hyper-acidity and switched me back to Ompradex. That solved that problem.
But I still suffered from lower abdominal pain and occasional bouts (every three months or so) of throwing up, usually after a large rich meal. The gastro had no cure for that. At night I would often lie awake with pain, discomfort and bloating. Should I go back to the gastroenterologist? I decided to ask my friendly pharmacist (who happens to be an Arab). He recommended carbon tablets as the best way to get rid of trapped gas (methane). Carbon in the form of charcoal (not diamonds) is one of the best adsorbents. It absorbs organic substances but also is excellent at adsorbing gas. Previously I had used Maalox anti-gas tablets, but I had never before thought of taking carbon tablets. Now I am taking them regularly, and they seem to be working. The lesson is take the advice of a pharmacist before going to see a specialist.