Charcoal is made from peat, coal, wood, coconut shell, or petroleum. Activated charcoal is made by heating charcoal in the presence of a gas. This process causes the charcoal to develop lots of internal spaces or pores. These pores help activated charcoal trap chemicals.
Activated charcoal is commonly used to treat poisoning. It is also used for high cholesterol, hangovers, and upset stomach, but there is no strong scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
Uses & Effectiveness
Possibly Effective for
Special Precautions and Warnings
When applied to the skin: Activated charcoal is likely safe for most adults when applied to wounds. Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Activated charcoal is possibly safe when used short-term when pregnant or breast-feeding. Consult with your healthcare provider before using it.
Gastrointestinal (GI) blockage or slow movement of food through the intestine: Don't use activated charcoal if you have any kind of intestinal blockage. Also, if you have a condition that slows the passage of food through the intestine, speak with a healthcare professional before using activated charcoal.
Alcohol (Ethanol) interacts with ACTIVATED CHARCOAL
Taking alcohol with activated charcoal might decrease how well activated charcoal works to prevent poison absorption.
Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs) interacts with ACTIVATED CHARCOAL
Activated charcoal reduces absorption of drugs and other chemicals in the stomach and intestines. Taking activated charcoal along with medications taken by mouth can decrease how much medicine the body absorbs. This can decrease the effects of your medication. To prevent this interaction, take activated charcoal at least one hour after medications you take by mouth.
Syrup of ipecac interacts with ACTIVATED CHARCOAL
Activated charcoal can bind syrup of ipecac in the stomach. This decreases the effects of syrup of ipecac.
Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs) interacts with ACTIVATED CHARCOAL
Activated charcoal reduces absorption of substances in the stomach and intestines. Taking activated charcoal along with birth control pills can decrease how much of the birth control pills the body absorbs. This can decrease the effects of birth control pills. To prevent this interaction, take activated charcoal at least 3 hours after or 12 hours before birth control pills.
Be cautious with this combination
As medicine, activated charcoal has most often been used under the supervision of a healthcare professional in a single dose of 100 grams by mouth. It's also used in wound dressings. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.
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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.
This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2020.