For the most part, activated charcoal should be safe to use. It is worth noting at this point that you should only be consuming activated charcoal for poisoning in a health care facility. This is because you may end up dealing with side-effects related to the poison. Therefore, you need to ensure that you are under the watchful eye of a health care practitioner. There is nothing inherently wrong with taking activated charcoal on your own for a poisoning, and if you are in a situation where this is your only remedy, it can definitely save your life, but at least this way you know that the poisoning is going to be treated properly and in a controlled environment.
The side effects of activated charcoal are exceedingly rare. If they do occur, it is likely down to the fact that somebody is consuming the activated charcoal on a long-term basis and in a large amount i.e. if you are using the activated charcoal to deal with bloating or excessive gas. It is unlikely that there will be any side-effects of the activated charcoal if it is applied to your skin. It only occurs when you eat it.
To minimize the risk of activated charcoal, you should ensure that you only consume it based upon the suggested dosage on the packaging. Never take more than that. Once again, we must stress that the risks are exceedingly minimal, but it is probably best to not ‘risk’ it.
Perhaps the most common side effect of consuming activated charcoal will be black stools. This can be a little bit scary at first, but we promise you that there is nothing wrong with it! Your body can’t digest the activated charcoal and it needs to come out eventually. The blackness will disappear when you lower the amount of activated charcoal you are consuming, or at least when it has disappeared completely from your body.
The first time you take activated charcoal, it is likely that you will notice that your tongue has turned black. Again, there is nothing wrong so do not be alarmed! Sometimes giving your tongue a scrape with your toothbrush should be more than fine here. If you chewed the activated charcoal, then it is likely that your teeth will be black too. This works to your benefit. Activated charcoal is fantastic for helping to keep your teeth white. Just scrub them (very lightly and gently!) and the activated charcoal will take off the plaque at the same time!
In serious cases, you may notice vomiting or diarrhea. Again, it is likely that there will be blackness involved. In both these cases, it may appear that your body is rejecting the activated charcoal. This is something which normally only occurs when you are taking the activated charcoal for poisoning as your body wants to rid itself of the poison quickly.
It is absolutely vital that if you cannot pass a stool, that you seek medical help. Consuming too much activated charcoal over a long period of time can cause your intestines to become blocked. Again this is based on a high daily consumption of activated charcoal, but this is a problem which can easily be rectified as soon as you notice constipation.