Trimethylaminuria (TMAU) Community

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Activated Charcoal Treatment

Hello everyone,

With foot odor problem, shoe sole inserts with activated charcoal (like that of Dr. Scholl's Odor-X insoles) are of great help. I happen to encounter a site selling activated charcoal tablets which is affordable. I was wondering if someone here in the group has tried these could share their experience or any knowledge for that matter. I would really like to know if this is worth a try.

Thanks a bunch!

Activated charcoal was one of many supplements I have tried for my chronic halitosis but did not help at all. Although it reduces the bad odor of my stool and gas .

Charcoal is an adsorbent, which means that it adsorbs (like a sponge) chemicals. The benefit of this is that you can then discard the charcoal pads and replace them with new ones that will do the same. In order to understand, and thus have greater control over this condition, the question needs to be raised, “what is producing these odorous chemicals?”

There is a PubMed paper (Nov 2009) on foot odor written by a group of Italian researchers from the University of Bologna. They state that “Foot malodor is mostly due to short-chain fatty acids produced by bacterial metabolism of eccrine sweating.” Using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, they determined that “Acetic, butyric, isotyric and isovaleric acids were identified as the main contributors to foot malodor in the majority of subjects they evaluated. Propionic, valeric and isocaproic acids were also detected in some subjects.

There is a video from a TV program about body/foot odors aired on TV in the UK in the early-mid 90s. http://www.bloodbornebodyodorandhalitosis.... This vedeo depicts a case of foot odor caused by corynebacteria resulting in a condition described as “pitted keratolysis.”

Another paper claims that the main source of foot odor in cases that don’t have pitted keratylosis is Staphylococcus epidermidis, which is said to be caused by isovaleric acid.

The use of activated charcoal dates back to ancient societies who have used it for thousands of years as a treatment for digestive problems and intoxication. The writes about charcoal, Activated (Oral Route), “Activated charcoal is used in the emergency treatment of certain kinds of poisoning. It helps prevent the poison from being absorbed from the stomach into the body. Sometimes, several doses of activated charcoal are needed to treat severe poisoning...” However, in the case of foot odor produced by local infections, oral charcoal may not be the answer, and local pads may help, but the best treatment would be the diagnosis and treatment of the cause of the problem. You would probably find answers and solutions by consulting with a podiatrist or a dermatologist.

Another recommendation is that one way of trying to neutralize odors is to work on the pH of your feet. For example, in the case of TMAU, TMA is very alkaline (high pH) with a pH of 9.8. The normal skin pH is 5 to 6.5. So in the case of TMA, acid soaps are recommended. On the other hand, if foot odor is produces by acidic chemicals noted above that have low pH, it’s only logical that one should use alkaline soaps with a high pH to raise the pH closer to that of the normal skin pH. You can look at the list of List of pH of common cleansers and other posts on skin cleansers on this link,

Thanks, Maria. Appreciate the info. I should have my pH level tested. I wonder if there's some kind of over-the-counter test kit for this.

Your internal pH is not really affected, it's all externally on the skin. This is why the TMAU odor-management protocol recommends either acid soaps/ body lotions or pH balanced cleansers for the skin only.

I don't know of any over the counter products to measure your skin perspiration pH. You might want to ask the pharmacist if there is such a thing.

I see. I was thinking of a different soap for a high pH and another for low level pH. I searched around and I think they call it pH-balanced soap. Want to try it as well....My odors are evident with certain foods and it takes effect immediately after taking a wrong food. Experienced different odors since puberty and now it's my feet. They are all in mild form so not as bothering as other TMAU sufferers may have. If this is TMAU, this may be a mild form of TMAU and I feel everything is worth a try for as long as I can afford it....I hope that doctors are more knowledgeable on this condition. Maybe adding TMAU in medical textbooks will help (sigh). Thanks!