General tips for using activated charcoal

General tips for using activated charcoal

What to keep in mind when considering usage for alternative purposes

  • If an individual has any known physical ailments or health conditions, it is wise to consult a medical professional or pharmacist before using activated charcoal for any particular reason. A doctor can best assess whether it is likely or not that usage of activated charcoal could interfere with a particular treatment / therapy (i.e. counteracting its effectiveness) or potentially spark an allergic reaction. Any medical conditions, known allergies and substance usage (i.e. medications – prescription and over-the-counter; supplements and herbal mixtures) must be brought to the attention of the consulting physician or pharmacist.
  • Women should exercise caution if pregnant, breastfeeding or intending to fall pregnant. It is best to discuss any potential risks with a medical professional before using activated charcoal. If the use thereof is determined to be potentially beneficial, guidelines for usage can be recommended by the doctor in question.
  • Ensure that proper usage is well understood, as well as all possible side-effects. Severe adverse reactions are rare but can occur – especially in the case of allergies, which can result in rash, hives, blistered or peeling skin, fever, breathing difficulties, tightness or pressure in the chest or throat, or swelling of the tongue, throat or mouth. In general, side-effects should be mildly uncomfortable, typically lasting the length of time a person is on the substance or clearing shortly after usage discontinuation.

ctivated charcoal capsules and glass of water on a blue background.

Tips for using activated charcoal for alternative purposes

Although not strictly regulated, product labels do generally provide specific usage instructions. If in doubt, it is best to consult a medical doctor or pharmacist for guidance or advice.

It is unwise to ever take more than is specified by a dosage label or instructed by a medical professional. Higher dosages won’t necessarily provide ‘more benefit’ in relation to the treatment purpose or aim.

If more than is specified is taken and adverse reactions occur, an individual must consult with a medical doctor for a thorough check / physical evaluation.

In general, activated charcoal tablets, capsules and powder mixes should be:

  • Taken shortly after a meal.
  • Tablets or capsules must be swallowed whole (not crushed, broken, chewed or emptied).
  • Powder products can be mixed as per label instructions (usually with water) for drinking, when applied as toothpaste or during any other external application.
  • Taken with a full glass of water (this will help alleviate any constipation side-effects if being used for internal purposes).
  • Taken 1 to 2 hours before or after any other required medication (to help reduce interference).
  • Thoroughly rinsed if being used for external purposes.

Activated charcoal liquid is generally best used by:

  • Shaking the container before use (for up to 30 seconds).
  • Following the directions of a product label or the express guidelines from a medical professional or pharmacist.

General activated charcoal usage tips

  • It is not advisable to share activated charcoal with others or take any that belongs to others.
  • Any products kept in the home should be stored well out of reach of others, especially children and pets.
  • Products are best stored at room temperature and kept in a dry environment (not in rooms or areas prone to moisture, like the bathroom). Products used in the home should also be stored in closed containers (away from moisture, heat or direct sunlight / light).
  • Unused (or expired) activated charcoal should not be poured down the drain, flushed down the toilet or discarded along with everyday waste (trash). It is advisable to consult a pharmacist, medical doctor or local waste disposal company for safe disposal guidelines.
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