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Optimum Charcoal

Generic name: activated charcoalCHAR-coal ]
Brand names: Actidose-Aqua, Activated Charcoal, Charcocaps, Char-Flo Aqueous Base, EZChar, Insta-Char, Optimum Charcoal
Drug classes: Antidotes, Miscellaneous GI agents

Medically reviewed by on Aug 3, 2023. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is Optimum Charcoal?

Common charcoal is made from wood, coconut shell, peat, coal, or petroleum. "Optimum Charcoal" is a processed form of common charcoal that contains pores that can trap other chemicals and prevent them from being absorbed by the body.

Optimum Charcoal is used to treat certain types of chemical poisonings.

Optimum Charcoal has also been used in alternative medicine as an aid in treating gas and indigestion.

It is not certain whether Optimum Charcoal is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA. This medicine should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.

Optimum Charcoal is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Optimum Charcoal may also be used for purposes not listed in this product guide.

Optimum Charcoal side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Although not all side effects are known, Optimum Charcoal is thought to be likely safe for most people when used for a short period of time, and possibly safe when used long term.

Optimum Charcoal may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:

Common side effects of Optimum Charcoal may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Follow all directions on the product label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

Do not use this product without medical advice to treat poisoning. Optimum Charcoal may cause more serious problems if used to treat poisoning caused by certain chemicals such as turpentine, lye, strong acids, kerosene, gasoline, paint thinner, cleaning fluid, or furniture polish.

Ask a doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider if it is safe for you to use this product for other conditions if you have ever had:

Ask a doctor before using this product if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

If possible during an emergency, tell your medical caregivers if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without medical advice.

How should I take Optimum Charcoal?

Call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 before using Optimum Charcoal to treat a poisoning.

When considering the use of activated charcoal, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.

If you choose to use Optimum Charcoal, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.

Shake the oral suspension (liquid). Measure a dose with the supplied measuring device (not a kitchen spoon).

Swallow the tablet or capsule whole and do not crush, chew, break, or open it.

The granules or powder must be mixed with liquid before you swallow them.

To treat a poisoning in a person who has been given ipecac syrup to cause vomiting, wait until the person has vomited before given Optimum Charcoal.

Do not attempt to treat poisoning in a person who is having seizures or is not fully conscious. Seek emergency medical help right away.

To treat indigestion or gas, Optimum Charcoal is usually taken right before meals or after eating foods that might cause stomach discomfort. Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Optimum Charcoal is used when needed. If you are on a dosing schedule, skip any missed dose. Do not use two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking Optimum Charcoal?

Avoid drinking alcohol.

What other drugs will affect Optimum Charcoal?

Optimum Charcoal can make it harder for your body to absorb other medicines you take by mouth. Take your this medicine dose at least 1 to 2 hours before or after taking other medicines by mouth.

Other drugs may affect Optimum Charcoal, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.