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Activated Charcoal information from DrugsUpdate  

See Available Brands of Activated Charcoal in India

P - Caution when used during pregnancy
FI - Food *

Activated carbon, also called activated charcoal, activated coal or carbo activatus, is a form of carbon that has been processed to make it extremely porous and thus to have a very large surface area available for adsorption or chemical reactions.


Charcoal due to its large surface area, inhibits the GI absorption of toxic substances or irritants eg, aromatic or benzenoid-type substances through adsorption. As a laxative, the addition of sorbitol provides hyperosmotic environment thus causing catharsis. Moreover, charcoal interferes with the enterohepatic circulation of bile acids resulting to a lower cholesterol level.



Absorption: Unabsorbed via the GI tract.

Metabolism: Unmetabolised.

Excretion: Via faeces (as unchanged form).


Activated Charcoal Indications / Activated Charcoal Uses

In acute oral poisoning and in Gastrointestinal disorders. 

Activated Charcoal Adverse Reactions / Activated Charcoal Side Effects

Vomiting, constipation, diarrhoea, black stools, swelling of abdomen, bowel obstruction; platelet aggregation, charcoal embolism, thrombocytopenia, haemorrhage, hypoglycaemia, hypocalcaemia, hypothermia, hypotension (haemoperfusion with activated charcoal); blackening of teeth and mouth; hypernatraemia, hypokalaemia, hypermagnesemia (with concomitant admin with cathartics).

Special Precautions

Decreased peristalsis: administer within 1 hr of ingestion. Induce vomiting of ipecac syr before admin of charcoal to prevent adsorption of ipecac. Petroleum distillate, caustic ingestions may harm gastric lining upon induction of vomiting by charcoal. Limit admin of charcoal in sorbitol doses to prevent loss of fluid and electrolyte. Monitor for active bowel sounds before administering charcoal. Pregnancy.

Other Drug Interactions

Reduces absorption of most drugs from GI tract. Decreases effectiveness of methionine via adsorption. Decreases ipecac effect.

Other Interactions

Food Interaction: Milk products eg, milk, ice crm or sherbet, marmalade reduces charcoal effect. Food, nutritional supplements or herbs must not be taken within two hr of ingestion of charcoal.



Acute oral poisoning

Adult: 25-100 g as a single dose. For multiple-dose treatment: 50-100 g as an initial dose followed by not <12.5 g every hr. Alternatively, 25 mg every 2 hr or 50 mg every 4 hr. 

Child: <1 yr: 1 g/kg/dose; 1-12 yr: 25-50 g/dose.


Gastrointestinal disorders

Adult: 0.975 - 3.9 g tid.


Should be taken on an empty stomach (i.e. At least one hour before food or two hours after food). (Take on an empty stomach w/ plenty of liqd. Allow to disintegrate in water w/ stirring or take whole w/ liqd. Take at least 2 hr before or 2 hr after other medications. Avoid milk, ice cream & cocoa.)

List of Contraindications

Activated Charcoal and Pregnancy

Caution when used during Pregnancy

Activated Charcoal and Lactation

Information Not Available

Activated Charcoal and Children

Information Not Available


Information Not Available

Lab interference

Information Not Available

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