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Hum Toxicol. 1986 May;5(3):211-2.

Does alcohol absorb to activated charcoal?


Activated charcoal seldom is used in pure-alcohol poisoning since it is absorbed rapidly from the gut. Furthermore in early reports activated charcoal was found to adsorb alcohol poorly. However, in 1981 North et al. [North, D. S., Thompson, J. D. & Peterson, C. D. (1981). Am. J. Hosp. Pharm., 38, 864-866] demonstrated in dogs that charcoal given at the same time as alcohol can reduce the blood alcohol concentration significantly. To study whether charcoal is of value in a clinical situation, a randomized cross-over study in two phases was conducted. Each person drank 88 g of alcohol and 30 min after either 20 g of activated charcoal was taken or the same volume of water was drunk. There were no significant differences in plasma alcohol concentrations with or without charcoal.

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