Do charcoal tablets work?


Quick Answer

Charcoal tablets absorb toxic drugs and chemicals, making them effective for treating poisoning and life threatening overdoses. The charcoal passes through a person's bowel movements without being digested, removing absorbed toxic substances from the body along with it.

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Full Answer

The activated charcoal used in charcoal tablets has a fine particle size that significantly increases its capacity for absorbing substances. However, charcoal tablets do not only absorb toxic substances, as they also absorb vitamins, minerals and important nutrients, making them appropriate for emergency use only. Charcoal tablets are not particularly effective at absorbing hydrocarbons, lithium and alcohols. Sorbitol, which works similarly to a laxative, is sometimes given along with charcoal tablets to decrease the risk of constipation.

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