Device Reduces Flatulence Odor

Some late breaking health news from Reuters (this one is true):

Thursday July 16 6:43 PM EDT

Device reduces flatulence odor

Activated charcoal can help people who suffer from flatulence by absorbing offensive odors, according to US researchers.

The device, known as the “Toot Trapper” eliminated over 90% of the odor generated by study volunteers whose diets had been supplemented with pinto beans and lactulose, which enhance flatus output and produces the gas hydrogen sulphide.

Hydrogen sulphide is one of several sulphur-containing gases that have been found to cause the odor associated with flatulence.

“The charcoal-lined cushion effectively limits the escape of these sulphur-containing gases into the environment,” write F.L. Suarez and colleagues of the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Minnesota, in a report in the journal Gut, published by the British Medical Association.

Study subjects ate 200 grams of pinto beans on the night before the study plus 15 grams of lactulose 2 hours before gas collections. Researchers collected flatus via rectal tubes from 16 healthy subjects age 18 to 47 with no history of gastrointestinal disease or antibiotic use (which can disrupt gut bacteria) for the preceding 3 months.

The concentrations of sulphur-containing gases were correlated with odor intensity assessed by two judges. Odor intensity was also determined after treatment of flatus samples with zinc acetate or activated charcoal. Gas tight pantaloons were also used in the study to assess the ability of a
charcoal-lined cushion to absorb sulphur-containing gases. Study results showed that the main sulphur-containing gas was indeed hydrogen sulphide, and that the strength of odor correlated with hydrogen
sulfide concentration.

Zinc acetate was found to reduce sulphur gas content, but the researchers found that activated charcoal was more effective in eliminating odor caused by the gas.

“The demonstration that activated charcoal and zinc remove sulphur gases and eliminate the offensive odour of flatus suggests that these products, used either internally or externally (around the anus), could have therapeutic potential for individuals suffering from excessive offensive rectal gas,” the authors conclude.

According to the report, the Toot Trapper, a foam cushion with a coating of charcoal on one side, is manufactured by UltraTech Products, based in Houston, Texas.

The researchers also report that women have a higher concentration of hydrogen sulphide in flatus “and a greater odour intensity” than men. “However, men tended to pass higher volumes of gas than did women. As a result, the volume of sulphur gases (in flatus)… did not differ between men and women,” they note. SOURCE: Gut 1998;43:100-104.