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Activated Charcoal

Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects & More


Updated August 02, 2013

Activated charcoal is type of carbon made from wood, vegetables and other materials. It looks like a fine black powder. Activated charcoal is believed to have a large adsorptive capacity, making it able to bind with unwanted substances and toxins in the gut.

Activated charcoal may help to lower cholesterol by interfering with enterohepatic circulation of bile acids. It has been found to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.

Uses for Activated Charcoal?

Poisoning / overdose – under medical supervision. If poisoning or overdose is suspected, go immediately to the emergency department of a hospital.

Activated charcoal is also used in air and water filters.

Dosage Information

Activated charcoal is available in liquid or powder form. It is a popular ingredient in colon cleanse products.

Activated charcoal should be taken with plenty of water to avoid intestinal obstruction or constipation.


Pregnant or nursing women and the elderly should avoid activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal should not used concomitantly with medication or nutritional supplements.

Activated charcoal can cause stools to appear black. Other side effects of activated charcoal include nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, or constipation.

Although there haven't been adverse effects in amounts used in nutritional supplements, there are no studies on the long-term safety of activated charcoal in humans.

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