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Studies show that Activated Charcoal is harmless when ingested or inhaled, or when it comes in contact with the skin. In rare cases, charcoal may mildly irritate the bowel in sensitive persons, but no allergies or side effects have been recorded. Ingested Charcoal may linger in the colon, but this is not harmful. Many pediatricians and pediatric handbooks recommend that Activated Charcoal be kept on hand as an antidote in the family medicine chest, especially in households that include small children (5, 10, 38, 41, 53, 64).
Scientific experiments over many years attest to the effectiveness of charcoal as an antidote. In one experiment, 100 times the lethal does of Cobra venom was mixed with charcoal and injected into a laboratory animal. The animal was not harmed (15). In other experiments, arsenic and strychnine were mixed with charcoal and ingested by humans under laboratory conditions. The subjects survived even though the poison dosages were 5 to 10 times the lethal dose (1, 3, 14, 16, 17, 38).