Activated charcoal (By mouth)


Activated Charcoal (AK-ti-vay-ted CHAR-kole)

Treats poisoning.

Brand Name(s)

Actidose-Aqua, CharcoCaps, EZ-Char, Kerr Insta-Char, Reese's Charcoal, Requa Activated Charcoal

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

How to Use This Medicine

Tablet, Granule, Powder, Liquid, Capsule

  • Your doctor will tell you how much medicine to use. Do not use more than directed.
  • This medicine is not for long-term use.
  • Follow the instructions on the medicine label if you are using this medicine without a prescription.
  • Liquid: You may need to shake the product container for at least 30 seconds before use.
  • Missed dose: Take a dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Many other drugs can interact with activated charcoal. Tell your doctor about all other medicines you are using.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have any digestive problems such as a bowel obstruction or constipation.
  • Tell your doctor if you have a fructose (fruit sugar) allergy. This medicine may contain a sweetener that can cause an allergic reaction if you have a fructose allergy.
  • Do not use this medicine to treat poisoning unless you are told to do so by a doctor or poison control center. This product can be dangerous if it is not used correctly. Do not give this medicine to a person who is not fully awake.
  • Some forms of this product should not be given to a child younger than 1 year. Do not give this product to a child who is younger than 12 years, unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Drink plenty of liquids to help avoid constipation.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • New or worsening abdominal pain, or severe constipation
  • Severe diarrhea

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Dark urine, or urinating less often than usual
  • Dark or black stools
  • Nausea or vomiting

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 12/4/2015

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.