Ah, the little black pills. You might not know what they are, but your parents or grandparents probably do. And you should know, too, since they are essential part of every medical cabinet. These are activated charcoal tablets, sold for a few rubles in strips of ten in every drugstore. They are not the same thing as the charcoal you light up and grill. This charcoal has been cleaned and heated to make it more adsorptive. Yes, that’s right: adsorptive. That means that when you gulp the pills down, they attract all kinds of toxins, which are stuck (adsorbed) on the many pores on the surface of the charcoal. Then the nasty stuff that has been making you feel queasy sails happily out of your system onboard the good ship charcoal. This is what you grab when you ate something you shouldn’t have. Pop down a lot of pills — up to 100 grams — with water right away. They are also useful after a night of overindulgence in the alcohol department. Although it doesn’t soak up alcohol, it can adsorb some of the impurities and toxins you imbibe along with it, like some of the chemicals in mixers. Take some before going to bed and another batch in the morning. It’s also very effective for soothing an upset stomach or taking care of the other embarrassing sounds and smells that come from a night of excess. And if you get bitten by mosquitoes or stung by a bee, smash a tablet in a teaspoon or so of vegetable oil and slather on the bite or sting, where it will pull out some of the toxins. The bottom line: activated charcoal is the best thing you never knew you needed.