Activated charcoal contains properties that help relieve the body of toxins and aid in improving liver, kidney, and skin health. Read more below to learn more about all of its health benefits.

What is Activated Charcoal?

Activated Charcoal, also known as Activated Carbon, is charcoal, or a tightly packed ball of carbon. It is similar to what we use in our grills, but is not as loaded with chemicals and is heated and further processed to boost its many health benefits (R).

Activated charcoal contains properties that allow it to be very effective at absorbing poisonous liquids and chemicals (R).

Activated charcoal has a lot of surface area, for maximum absorbing capability and its chemical properties, mainly that carbon is very good at binding with a wide variety of compounds (R).

Activated Charcoal Snapshot


  • Stops poisoning and overdoses
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Relieves gas and bloating
  • Whitens teeth
  • Clears skin


  • Causes nausea, vomiting, and constipation
  • Interferes with other drugs

Health Benefits of Activated Charcoal

1) Activated Charcoal Fights Against Poisoning and Overdoses

Activated charcoal can be better than a stomach pumping in some situations (R).

Additionally, it can lower blood-alcohol content (BAC) and help stop alcohol poisoning (R).

It lessens liver damage by absorbing drugs, especially acetaminophen (R).

Also, repetitive doses are effective in combating the effects and absorption of many drugs (R).

2)  Activated Charcoal Alleviates Gas and Bloating

Activated charcoal is known to reduce hydrogen levels in the colon, also known as gas. In addition, charcoal can reduce abdominal cramps and bloating (R).

3) Activated Charcoal Lowers Cholesterol

Activated carbon has proven to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL), which can cause plaque buildup in the arteries, and increase good cholesterol (HDL), which promotes heart health. (R).

4)  Activated Charcoal Whitens and Protects Teeth

Activated charcoal has shown to whiten and polish teeth due to its makeup of carbon and is even available as a tooth polish (R).

Activated carbon acts as an antibacterial and fights against gingivitis, which is why it is used in many third world countries (R, R2).

5)  Activated Charcoal Protects Against Kidney and Liver Failure

Activated charcoal helps to remove toxins, which puts less stress on the kidneys and liver (R).

In combination with a low-protein diet, activated carbon can benefit patients with kidney failure by keeping their excretory system clean (R).

By keeping the kidneys and liver clean and healthy, activated carbon acts as an anti-aging compound.

6)  Activated Charcoal Promotes Skin and Body Health

Activated charcoal in combination with baking soda reduces and eliminates body odor (R).

In cases with venomous or non-venomous snake or spider bites, activated charcoal has shown to be an effective way to remove the toxins and heal wounds (R).

In addition, activated charcoal combined with aloe vera gel can reduce acne, but there is no published clinical study yet.

7) Activated Charcoal Treats Bile Flow

Activated charcoal has shown to have high clearances of bile acid, as well as, some amino acids. This was especially true within the first hours of ingestion (R).

This is an effective way to reduce bile acid in pregnant women (R).


  • The relationship between adsorption capacity and the polarity index and vapor pressure of adsorbate shows an opposite trend, and the adsorption capacities and adsorption energies of three kinds of activated carbon for these three adsorbates had the following order: xylene > toluene > acetone (R).
  • Stage 1 activated carbons NaOH/char ratios of 0-1, surface pyrolysis being the main reaction; stage 2 activated carbons  NaOH/char ratios of 2-4, etching and swelling being the main reactions. The physical properties of stage 2 activated carbons were similar, and specific area was from 1478 to 1887m(2)g(-1) (R).
  • In comparison to a placebo, activated carbon significantly (p less than 0.05) reduced breath hydrogen levels in both the population groups (R).
  • After one week and ten months of charcoal use significant decrease in blood urea and creatinine levels was observed and none of them required emergency dialysis during this time (R).
  • Serum total bile acids, aminotransferases, alkaline phosphatase, albumin, total cholesterol, and bilirubin (total and conjugated) were evaluated after overnight fasting at the start of the study and on days 4 and 8 of follow-up. By day 8 of treatment serum total bile acid concentrations were lower in patients of the charcoal group than in the control group (P < 0.05) (R).

Safety and Dosage

  • For at-home use, the recommended dosage of charcoal is usually 10 – 25 grams with water.
  • If your aim is a digestive cleanse with activated charcoal, take 10 grams 90 minutes prior to each meal, for two days.
  • For adults who have taken a substantial overdose of a toxic substance no more than two hours previously, 50-100 g of activated charcoal is suggested (R).
  • The total dose given is probably more important than the frequency of dosing.

Side Effects

Activated charcoal has shown to aggravate patients with variegate porphyria (VP) and should not be taken if you have VP because of the potential increase in urine and plasma porphyrins (R).

Gastrointestinal side effects include nausea, vomiting, and constipation. People also report bowel obstruction, ileus, chalk like taste, and black colored stools (R).

Metabolic side effects of activated charcoal include hypernatremia, hypermagnesemia. electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, and shock (R).

Activated Charcoal Interactions

Activated charcoal can stop Acetaminophen, a drug that reduces pain and fevers, from affecting a patient. This is true for other drugs such as N-acetylcysteine, Digoxin, Theophylline, and Tricyclic antidepressants (R).

When combined with sorbitol, activated charcoal can cause metabolic side effects (R).

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