Activated charcoal may be a life saver

Activated charcoal is used to remedy mild digestive disturbances, especially intestinal gas and diarrhea. A recent study finds it can also be a very effective poison antidote for children and may help prevent a trip to the hospital.

Activated charcoal binds to many types of poisons and can keep them from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Charcoal is considered effective for a broad range of household items including cough medicines, painkillers and disinfectant cleaners.

Recently a group of Kentucky researchers found that in 115 out of 138 cases for which the substance was recommended and instructions on use were given, children were able to be treated at home, with no complications. In many of the home cases, children received the substance within an hour of ingesting poison, which is optimal for reducing poison absorption, say researchers. It’s also a lot quicker than the time it might take to get them emergency room treatment, they said. They recommend that parents add activated charcoal to their home first-aid kit. However, always call a poison control centre immediately if you suspect a child has ingested poison.

Source: Pediatrics, Dec 2001