Activated Charcoal for Food Poisoning

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Activated Charcoal for Food Poisoning
activated charcoal for food poisoning
KayaWell Expert

Activated charcoal is well-known for its usage in treating a drug overdose or poisoning. When activated charcoal gets into the body, it combines drugs and toxins therein and helps the body to eliminate unwanted toxins. 

Made from coal, wood, or other elements, charcoal becomes activated charcoal when combined with a gas or activating agent under high temperatures to expand its surface area. 

If you are having stomach flu or getting food poisoning, then this special kind of charcoal, "activated charcoal," can help you out in resolving issues associated with the stomach. Like stomach flu, stomach bug, and poisoning. Thanks to its stomach-soothing medical properties. 

If records are to be believed, almost 19 to 21 million Americans get the stomach flu each year,, and people benefit from this charcoal remedy to treat their digestive problems.

Here in this blog, we will shed light on how and why people take activated charcoal. what stomach issues activated charcoal can treat, its benefits, risks, and more.

Why do People Take Activated Charcoal?

People take activated charcoal to manage their poisoning or overdose issues. They can use activated charcoal with their ongoing treatments as well. However, it will turn out to be effective only for acute poisoning. But in some cases, it doesn't work out. Likewise, if an individual gets poisoned from 

  • Alcohol

  • Cyanide

  • Iron tablets

  • Lithium

Besides, activated charcoal can't treat poisons such as strong acids or bases. 

Furthermore, given below are some of the less studied uses of activated charcoal, which include: 

  • Lowering high cholesterol

  • Preventing gas 

  • Treating a pregnancy condition wherein the normal flow of bile is affected 

  • Preventing a hangover

The use of charcoal for treating the abovementioned issues has already been seen in earlier research and studies. However, those research and studies and their results are not enough to prove that the use of charcoal is safe and effective for these health issues. Therefore, it would be better to consult your doctor once before taking activated charcoal for such issues. 

How Do People Take Charcoal to Treat Poisoning?

Activated charcoal is a powder used to treat poisoning mixing with a liquid. Once mixed well, it is consumed directly through the mouth or by using a tube placed through the mouth and into the stomach. 

Can you get activated charcoal naturally from foods?

No, you can't because activated charcoal is a manufactured product and not available in foods naturally.  

Risks of Taking Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is safe and effective if used to treat poisoning or overdose. But it is recommended that it be taken under a healthcare expert's guidance or in a healthcare facility. 

If talked about the side effects of activated charcoal, they are highly prone only when consumed long-term to treat conditions like excess gas. 

More likely Side Effects of Activated Charcoal:

One can face the following side effects of consuming charcoal through the mouth. 

  • Constipation

  • Black tongue

  • Black stools

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

In the worst-case scenario, one can experience gastrointestinal blockages. 

Risks Associated with Consumption of Activated Charcoal

If activated charcoal is combined with drugs used for constipation, including sorbitol or magnesium citrate. There are chances that individuals can experience electrolyte imbalances or other problems using activated charcoal along with constipation drugs. 

Interactions with Medications:

Activated charcoal, when interacted with the other drugs, may reduce or prevent the absorption of certain drugs, including 

  • Acetaminophen

  • Digoxin 

  • Theophylline

  • Tricyclic antidepressants

Therefore, it is recommended that individuals taking the medicines mentioned above not use activated charcoal as a supplement, as it can reduce the absorption of certain nutrients. 

However, dietary supplements are administered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But, the authoritative government body considers them as food rather than medications. Also, supplement manufacturers' don't have to showcase their products as safe, unlike drug manufacturers, before selling them in the market. 

Therefore, if you take any dietary supplements, inform your doctor about them. No matter if they are natural or not. Letting your doctor know about them is the right approach. Because the doctor will tell you about the possible side effects or interactions with medications, foods, or other herbs and supplements, they can tell you if the supplements might increase the risk or not. 

What is Stomach Flu?

The stomach flu, stomach bugs, or even food poisoning is a kind of inflammation caused by bacterial infections or viruses. The most common of them is Norovirus. The stomach flu is the result of viral gastroenteritis, and it can cause symptoms like  

  • Diarrhea

  • Gas, bloating

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

One can witness these symptoms early and suffer from them for almost 1 to 3 days. 

If we talk about the treatment, mostly recommended treatments include drinking fluids, getting enough rest, and following the BRAT diet, which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. But adding charcoal can do wonders and set you free earlier from bacterial infection. 

How can Activated Charcoal Help in Stomach Flu?

Activated charcoal has a superb quality of absorbing the bacteria responsible for stomach flu. It works similarly as used for absorbing poisons. Infact, the process of activating charcoal turns it into ultra-absorbent. That's how it helps in letting your body from harmful toxins effectively. 

In case you have a virus and are struggling with the same stomach issues. Activated charcoal can effectively help get rid of the symptoms. 

Even when an individual gets poisoned then, besides stomach pumping, activated charcoal came out as a more effective way because of its incredible ability to absorb different kinds of toxins. 

Can Activated Charcoal be Used in Diarrhea?

Usually, toxins or bacterial infections are among the reasons that cause diarrhea, similar to what causes most stomach bugs. One can eradicate these harmful toxins or bacteria from its body just by using activated charcoal because it is considered a really effective remedy to attract and eliminate unwanted substances. According to a study, it can effectively treat diarrhea with the least possible side effects as compared to other treatments.

Is Activated Charcoal Safe for Children?

Activated charcoal is safe for children, but it is recommended to consult with your pediatric pediatrician before giving it to your child.

Once you get an okay from your concerned pediatrician, you can start with ¼ of a tablespoon in some applesauce but don't forget; the dosages should not be more than twice a day. 

If a child or an adult is suffering from constant abdominal pain and persistent fever, it is advised to see your doctor first.


Activated charcoal is good for treating a drug overdose or poisoning. Other than this, it has a proven record of resolving digestive issues caused by toxins, viruses, or bacteria. It can easily treat the stomach flu, stomach bug, diarrhea, or other tummy-related issues. 

One can take activated charcoal with applesauce or liquid and get rid of his/her harmful toxins and unwanted substances.

However, always prefer to consult with your doctor to know about the dose, time period, and other information for your good health.

Hope this blog will help you and enable you to know about activated charcoal and resolve your queries and doubts concerned with activated charcoal for food poisoning.

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