Activated charcoal is a powerful adsorbent - a material with a capacity or
tendency to adsorb another substance - of a wide range of poisonous substances
and drugs, reducing their systemic absorption from the gastro-intestinal
In South Africa activated charcoal is registered for the treatment, or
emergency treatment, of poisoning or overdose with most drugs and chemicals. It
is most effective if given within 30 minutes of acute poisoning.
Charcoal should only be used in conscious patients.
Drug schedule: not scheduled
Available as: charcoal is available as powder or in capsules.
What does it do charcoal adsorbs toxins.
Overdose risk: low
Dependence risk: low
Is activated charcoal available as a generic? no
Is activated charcoal available on prescription only? no
Dietary advice: efficacy of charcoal is reduced if taken with milk or
Activated charcoal is not effective in treating poisoning with:
- mineral acids
- caustic alkalis
- organic solvents
Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported.
Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.
Breastfeeding: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect
your baby. Consult your doctor before use.
Possible side effects
||Consult your doctor
||Only if severe
||In all cases|
||reduced effects of ipecacuanha|
|Digoxin (and most other oral drugs)
||reduced effects of digoxin|
Adults, oral (or via naso-gastric tube): 50 - 100g in 250 - 500 ml water
This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for
informational purposes only.
Please consult a physician for specific treatment and