Hot gargles with activated charcoal - can it help with IgAN?

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Hot gargles with activated charcoal - can it help with IgAN?

Postby BEAR15 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:39 pm

Hello everyone!

My nephrologist suspects I have IgA Nephropathy (IgAN). I've also had difficulty breathing for almost four decades ('opacified sinuses', 'post-nasal drip').

Recently, I've been trying something different -- hot water gargles with activated charcoal (like a salt-water gargle, but with activated charcoal instead of salt). Activated charcoal is known for its ability to trap toxins, allowing them to be flushed out of the body. What comes out (especially if I gargle deeply) is thick mucus bound to activated charcoal. Could these 'activated charcoal gargles' fight IgAN?

Here's why I'm asking -- it's been accepted for some years that IgAN is caused by imperfections in a protein the body produces, named 'IgA1'. The problem lies with a specific region of the IgA1 molecule - the so-called 'hinge region'. Malformed structures in the IgA1 hinge region are recognised by other parts of the immune system. These immune components bind with the malformed IgA1 (also called 'galactose-deficient IgA1') forming super-molecules ('immune complexes'), which eventually clog and destroy delicate kidney structures. Hence, IgAN.

So, my thinking goes like this -- mechanically removing mucus (by activated charcoal gargles) lowers the total amount of IgA1 in the body. Hence, this also lowers the amount of malformed IgA1, including that absorbed by the intestine into the bloodstream (serum). Hopefully, this lowers the levels of abnormal (galactose-deficient) IgA1 in blood. Hence, combats IgAN.

IgA1 in epithelial secretions (like mucus) and blood have different structures. But I think there's probably a fair amount of interchange between the two -- the body is not rigidly compartmentalised, especially when there is damage to epithelial linings.

On a separate but possibly related note, I found this paper interesting:
Immunoglobulins in Nasal Secretions ...

It describes how common bacteria colonize our nasal passages produce molecules called proteases that split ('cleave') the IgA1 molecule at the hinge region. People whose nasal cavities are blocked by mucus (say, due to sinusitis) may be worse affected due to prolonged exposure of secreted IgA1 to bacteria (cleavage occurs more under such conditions).

Could IgA1 hinge cleavage be somehow related to abnormal (galactose-deficient) IgA1 that causes IgAN?

Another interesting site:
The structure of IgA molecules (comprising IgA1 and IgA2) is shown here in all its glory. This webpage makes the excellent point that "The most extensive surface in contact with the external environment is not our skin, but the epithelial lining of our gastrointestinal, respiratory, and urogenital tracts". IgA is our first line of defense at these 'inner-boundaries'; as such, it is the highest-produced antibody in the body.

Bear15 (bear with extremely long post please)
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A word of caution

Postby BEAR15 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:22 pm

A word of caution: do this intermittently.

I was doing charcoal gargles for a couple of days. I combined it with tried nasal irrigation with active charcoal ('jal neti', with those little 'neti' pots). Then I went out poorly clad to the pub, and caught a throat cold. I think removing mucus mechanically like how I was doing can leave you open to an airway infection. The resulting immune flareup can be dangerous if you have IgAN.

Today, I've switched to salt water gargles. I immediately felt well after it. For now, I suggest doing activated charcoal gargles only intermittently (say once in 3 days), and to protect yourself from infection (be fit, eat well, and perhaps regular salt gargles instead?)
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Re: Hot gargles with activated charcoal - can it help with I

Postby wagolynn » Fri Feb 02, 2018 4:16 pm

Charcoal can absorb medications.
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Re: Hot gargles with activated charcoal - can it help with I

Postby BEAR15 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:48 am

wagolynn wrote:Charcoal can absorb medications.

Yes, if you swallow it. But since this is a gargle, you're spitting the charcoal back out.

That means if someone had a topical medication (a coating) applied to their throat or nasal passages, charcoal will absorb that. But if medication is swallowed (ie tablets), this method should not absorb it.
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