Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for ACTIVATED CHARCOAL are as follows:
Likely effective for…
- Trapping chemicals to stop some types of poisoning when used as a part of standard treatment.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…
- Lowering cholesterol levels. So far, research studies don’t agree about the effectiveness of taking activated charcoal by mouth to lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Decreasing gas (flatulence). Some studies show that activated charcoal is effective in reducing intestinal gas, but other studies don’t agree. It’s too early to come to a conclusion on this.
- Treating reduced bile flow (cholestasis) during pregnancy. Taking activated charcoal by mouth seems to help treat cholestasis in pregnancy, according to some early research reports.
- Preventing hangover. Activated charcoal is included in some hangover remedies, but some experts are skeptical about how well it might work. Activated charcoal doesn’t seem to trap alcohol well.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of activated charcoal for these uses.
- For drug overdose or poisoning: 50 to 100 grams of activated charcoal is given at first, followed by charcoal every 2 to 4 hours at a dose equal to 12.5 grams per hour. For children, lower doses (10 to 25 grams) are used.
Special precautions & warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Activated charcoal might be safe when used short-term if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, but consult with your healthcare professional before using if you are pregnant.
Gastrointestinal (GI) blockage or slow movement of food through the intestine: Don’t use activated charcoal if you have any kind of intestinal obstruction. Also, if you have a condition that slows the passage of food through your intestine (reduced peristalsis), don’t use activated charcoal, unless you are being monitored by your healthcare provider.
Interaction with medication
- Activated charcoal is sometimes used to prevent poisons from being absorbed into the body. Taking alcohol with activated charcoal might decrease how well activated charcoal works to prevent poison absorption.
- Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs)
- Activated charcoal absorbs substances in the stomach and intestines. Taking activated charcoal along with medications taken by mouth can decrease how much medicine your body absorbs, and decrease the effectiveness of your medication. To prevent this interaction, take activated charcoal at least one hour after medications you take by mouth.
- Syrup of ipecac
- Activated charcoal can bind up syrup of ipecac in the stomach. This decreases the effectiveness of syrup of ipecac.