The mechanism of the hypocholesterolaemic effect of activated charcoal

Eur J Clin Invest. 1989 Jun;19(3):251-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2362.1989.tb00226.x.


The hypocholesterolaemic mechanism of activated charcoal was studied in seven patients with primary hypercholesterolaemia. The reduction of serum cholesterol was correlated with the serum concentrations of cholesterol precursors and of two plant sterols. Activated charcoal, 8 g t.i.d. for 4 weeks, reduced serum concentration of total cholesterol by 27% (P less than 0.01). The effect was accompanied by a moderate elevation (P less than 0.05) in serum squalene and desmosterol concentrations and by a marked increase (up to 300-700%) in serum lathosterol and delta 8 lathosterol concentrations. The levels of two plant sterols, campesterol and beta-sitosterol, were unchanged or only slightly decreased by the use of activated charcoal. The decrease of serum cholesterol concentration had significant negative correlations with serum lathosterol and delta 8 lathosterol, and significant positive correlations with serum cholestanol and beta-sitosterol. These observations suggest an increased cholesterol synthesis upon treatment with activated charcoal, probably caused by the interference with the enterohepatic circulation of bile acids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anticholesteremic Agents*
  • Charcoal / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cholesterol / analogs & derivatives
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Desmosterol / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phytosterols / blood
  • Sitosterols / blood


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Phytosterols
  • Sitosterols
  • Charcoal
  • Desmosterol
  • gamma-sitosterol
  • lathosterol
  • Cholesterol