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You are here : 3-RX.com > Drugs & Medications > Detailed Drug Information (USP DI) > Charcoal, Activated

Charcoal, Activated (Oral)

Description and Brand Names | Before Using | Proper Use | Side Effects

  • Antidote, adsorbent - Charcoal, Activated
  • Antidote, adsorbent-laxative - Charcoal, Activated and Sorbitol

Activated charcoal is used in the emergency treatment of certain kinds of poisoning. It helps prevent the poison from being absorbed from the stomach into the body. Sometimes, several doses of activated charcoal are needed to treat severe poisoning. Ordinarily, this medicine is not effective and should not be used in poisoning if corrosive agents such as alkalis (lye) and strong acids, iron, boric acid, lithium, petroleum products (e.g., cleaning fluid, coal oil, fuel oil, gasoline, kerosene, paint thinner), or alcohols have been swallowed, since it will not prevent these poisons from being absorbed into the body.

Some activated charcoal products contain sorbitol. Sorbitol is a sweetener. It also works as a laxative, for the elimination of the poison from the body. Products that contain sorbitol should be given only under the direct supervision of a doctor because severe diarrhea and vomiting may result .

Activated charcoal has not been shown to be effective in relieving diarrhea and intestinal gas.

Activated charcoal may be available without a doctor's prescription; however, before using this medicine, call a poison control center, your doctor, or an emergency room for advice. Activated charcoal is available in the following dosage forms:

  • Activated Charcoal
    • Powder (U.S. and Canada)
    • Oral suspension (U.S. and Canada)
  • Activated Charcoal and Sorbitol
    • Oral suspension (U.S. and Canada)

Brand Names

Some commonly used brand names are:

In the U.S. -

  • Actidose-Aqua 1
  • Actidose with Sorbitol 2
  • CharcoAid 2
  • CharcoAid G 1
  • CharcoAid 2000 1
  • Insta-Char in an Aqueous Base 1
  • Insta-Char in an Aqueous Base with Cherry Flavor 1
  • Insta-Char Pediatric in an Aqueous Base with Cherry Flavor 1
  • Insta-Char Pediatric with Cherry Flavor in a Sorbitol Base 2
  • Insta-Char with Cherry Flavor in a Sorbitol Base 2
  • Liqui-Char 1
  • Liqui-Char with Sorbitol 2

In Canada -

  • Aqueous Charcodote 1
  • Aqueous Pediatric Charcodote 1
  • Charcodote 2
  • Charcodote TFS-25 2
  • Charcodote TFS-50 2
  • Pediatric Charcodote 2


For quick reference, the following medicines are numbered to match the corresponding brand names.

This information applies to the following medicines:
1. Activated Charcoal (AK-ti-vay-ted CHAR-kole)‡§
2. Activated Charcoal and Sorbitol (AK-ti-vay-ted CHAR-kole and SOR-bi-tole)
‡ Generic name product may be available in the U.S.
§ Generic name product may be available in Canada


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Charcoal, Activated: Before Using

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