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How does activated charcoal stop posion in the body?

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.

This product is available in the following dosage forms:

Liquid
Suspension
Tablet
Tablet, Chewable
Kit
Powder for Suspension