Activated charcoal traps toxins and chemicals in the gut, preventing their absorption. The charcoal's porous texture has a negative electrical charge, which causes it to attract positively charged molecules, such as toxins and gases. Because activated charcoal is not absorbed by your body, it can carry the toxins bound to its surface out of your body in feces. Activated charcoal may also help promote kidney function and reduce cholesterol levels by reducing the number of waste products that the kidneys and blood has to filter.
When taken by mouth: Activated charcoal is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth, short-term. Taking activated charcoal long-term by mouth is POSSIBLY SAFE. Side effects taking activated charcoal by mouth include constipation and black stools. More serious, but rare, side effects are a slowing or blockage of the intestinal tract, regurgitation into the lungs, and dehydration.
When applied to the skin: Activated charcoal is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when applied to wounds.
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.
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