How long does activated charcoal stay in your system?

Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal has been used for centuries to help detoxify the body from harmful toxins. It works by binding to certain substances in our digestive system and preventing them from being absorbed into the bloodstream, thus eliminating them from our bodies.

But how long does activated charcoal stay in your system?

Activated charcoal stays in the body until it is expelled with feces and the collected toxins. It does not get absorbed into the body, so its stay in the system depends on how quickly it can be eliminated through regular bowel movements. On average, activated charcoal may remain in your digestive system for up to four days.

This article will discuss its effects on the body and how long it takes to be expelled from your body. Read on to find out more about this natural remedy!

Table of Contents

What is Activated Charcoal and How Does it Work?

Activated charcoal, also known as activated carbon, is a type of absorbent material that works by trapping toxins and chemicals in its tiny pores.

It's created when materials like bamboo, wood, coal, or coconut shells are heated to high temperatures with a gas that causes the material to develop small crevices. These little holes give the charcoal its absorbency and increase its surface area.

How it works

Activated charcoal binds itself to molecules, ions, and particles through adsorption. This is similar to absorption, but instead of taking a substance into itself, it binds to the particulates on the surface of the activated charcoal.

This makes it much easier for toxins and other chemicals to be pulled out of whatever they are attached to.

Activated charcoal has been used for centuries as an antidote for certain types of chemical poisoning because one gram can have up to 1000 square meters of surface area! 


It's also becoming more popular as a supplement due to its ability to help detoxify the body by binding with things like bacteria, fungi, parasites, and heavy metals before they can be absorbed into our systems.

Activated charcoal is often taken in powder form or capsules to reach further into our digestive systems and bind with these toxins before they are broken down and absorbed. 


Not only does activated charcoal work inside the body, but it can also be used externally on skin conditions such as acne and bug bites.

The tiny pores draw out impurities from deep within pores while absorbing excess oil from the skin's surface, resulting in a clear complexion free from blemishes or irritants.

This is why activated charcoal has become an increasingly popular ingredient in many skincare products over recent years!

Benefits of Taking Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is an incredibly beneficial natural substance with various uses. It is made from organic materials, such as wood, coconut shells, peat, and coal, which are heated to very high temperatures that cause the materials to become porous.

This porousness allows activated charcoal to absorb large amounts of toxins and chemicals from the surface it comes into contact with.

Here are some of the excellent benefits of taking activated charcoal: 

It is used for overdose treatments

Activated charcoal can treat overdoses and poisonings by absorbing the toxic substances in the body. It binds to these toxins and prevents them from being absorbed into the bloodstream, allowing them to be passed out safely through urine or stool.

This makes it an invaluable tool for medical emergencies involving ingesting a toxic substance, as it can reduce its toxicity quickly and effectively. 

It reduces bad breath.

Activated charcoal can help reduce bad breath by binding to odor-causing substances like sulfur compounds and other airborne molecules in your mouth.

This helps remove these molecules before they can cause bad breath, so you can have fresher air when you talk or smile! 

It has anti-aging properties.

Activated charcoal also has anti-aging properties because it binds to free radicals that damage healthy skin cells and promote premature aging signs like wrinkles and dark skin surface spots.

By binding to these free radicals, activated charcoal helps slow down its effects on your skin and prevent damage caused by environmental pollutants like smoke or smog. 

It improves digestive health.

Activated charcoal has been known to help improve digestive health. It does this by binding bile acids in the gut, preventing them from reabsorbing into the bloodstream. This can help with problems like diarrhea or stomach upset.

This process may also help improve nutrient absorption in people who have difficulty digesting certain nutrients due to gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

It may help lower cholesterol levels.

Activated charcoal can help people who have high cholesterol levels. This is because activated charcoal helps by binding cholesterol molecules in the intestine. This prevents them from being reabsorbed into the bloodstream.

Risks and Side Effects of Taking Activated Charcoal

Taking activated charcoal can benefit many health concerns, including digestive issues and detoxification.

However, there are risks and side effects to consider before deciding to use this substance. 


One of the most common side effects of taking activated charcoal is constipation. This can occur because charcoal binds with substances in the gastrointestinal tract, which includes water and electrolytes that help digestion and elimination.

Dehydration is also a potential risk when taking activated charcoal as it binds with water in the gut. Too much charcoal can increase the risk of dehydration, so it's essential to drink plenty of fluids when taking this supplement. 

Stomach cramping and diarrhea

Stomach cramping and diarrhea can also occur due to the binding properties of activated charcoal.

Furthermore, suppose you are simultaneously taking other medications or supplements such as activated coal.

In that case, it may interfere with their absorption as it binds with many substances in the stomach and intestines.

As a result, it's best to take medications separately from activated coal if possible or at two hours apart at least. 

Black stools

Another possible side effect of taking too much-activated charcoal is black stools or darkening of your tongue or teeth.

This occurs because some particles remain in your digestive system after ingestion and often cause discoloration in your stool or mouth for up to several days after ingesting the substance. 

Decreased vitamin levels

In addition, long-term use of activated charcoal has been linked to decreased vitamin levels due to its ability to bind with vitamins as well as other compounds like minerals and herbs taken along with it.

If you are considering using this supplement over an extended period, make sure you speak with your doctor about any concerns, including decreased vitamin levels due to long-term usage.  


Taking too much-activated carbon may lead to severe toxicity if ingested in high doses (over 10 grams).

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), hypotension (low blood pressure), and dizziness, among other things, which can require medical attention right away.

Additionally, persons with underlying liver dysfunction should not take large amounts due to its potential effects on liver enzymes which could cause further damage in some cases. 

How to Take Activated Charcoal Properly

Activated charcoal is available in powder, capsule, or tablet form. The recommended dosage depends on your age, health concerns, and the type of product used.

It is best to speak with your doctor before taking activated charcoal to determine the correct dose. Additionally, always follow the manufacturer's instructions when taking this supplement. 

By doing so, you can enjoy its potential health benefits while minimizing the risk of any adverse side effects.

Foods that Should be Avoided When Taking Activated Charcoal

When taking activated charcoal, it is essential to avoid certain foods.

Fried and fatty foods

Fried and fatty foods should be avoided since they can interfere with the absorption of activated charcoal. This includes red meat, fried fish, fast food, and processed snacks.

Dairy products and nuts

Additionally, it's a good idea to stay away from dairy products as well as high-fiber items such as applesauce and nuts.

Charcoal supplements can also bind to specific vitamins and minerals in your body, so it's best to avoid taking them around the same time as multivitamins or other nutritional supplements.


Furthermore, you may want to stay away from alcohol for a few hours after taking activated charcoal because it binds to the toxins in alcohol and prevents them from being absorbed by your body.

Final words

Activated charcoal is a natural remedy that can help detoxify your body and remove toxins.

It works by binding to certain substances in the digestive system, preventing them from being absorbed into the bloodstream, thus eliminating them from our bodies.

However, it does stay in your system for up to four days until it is eliminated through regular bowel movements.

Be sure to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider before taking activated charcoal products, as they may interact with other medications or cause side effects.

DISCLAIMER: does not provide medical advice, examination, or diagnosis.

Medically reviewed and approved by Nataniel Josue M D.