Posted on: June 28, 2020 at 8:49 am
Last updated: September 18, 2020 at 1:08 pm

Civilisations around the world have been using various clays for centuries to promote better health, improve skin, and ward off disease. The use of clay to promote better health, however, is a fairly new concept to North Americans, and we are only just beginning to research the science behind the potential benefits of clay. In particular, Bentonite clay appears to be very useful and provides a number of health benefits.

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While the research is either new or limited, you may want to consider making bentonite clay a part of your daily health routine.

What is Bentonite Clay?

Bentonite clay is an absorbent aluminum silicate that is formed from volcanic ash and is one of the most available types of clay in nature [1]. It was discovered around 1890 and is named for the area in which it was discovered, near Fort Benton, Wyoming, although it can be found in other parts of the world [3].

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Bentonite is composed primarily of montmorillonite, which may contain sodium or calcium. Sodium montmorillonite is found in the largest quantity in bentonite, along with various other minerals including feldspar, calcite, silica and gypsum [3].

Benefits and Uses of Bentonite Clay

Since ancient times, humans have used clays, either internally or externally, to maintain health or treat disease. There has, however, been very few studies done to assess the benefits of clay or to understand how it acts in and on the body. Most of what we know about bentonite clay comes from traditional remedies and anecdotal evidence, though there is mounting scientific evidence for various health benefits [4].

Bentonite Clay May Help Rid the Body of Toxins

One potential use of bentonite clay is as a detoxifying agent. This is possibly because of the clay’s poly-cationic nature, which means it carries positively-charged ions at several points. These positively-charged points are what allows the clay to absorb toxins that carry a negative charge [5].

There have been a couple of studies, one in rats and one in pigs, that demonstrated bentonite’s ability to absorb fungus and aflatoxins and assist the animals with excretion.[6][7].

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Ingesting clay has been deemed relatively safe in humans, however, more long-term human trials need to be done to assess the efficacy of bentonite in populations who are at higher risk for aflatoxin exposure [8].

In animal models, bentonite clay has also shown to be an effective treatment for metal toxicity or metal poisoning, such as lead poisoning, copper, or cadmium toxicity, as a treatment for diarrhea and other ailments of the gastrointestinal tract, and to help support the health of the kidneys [4]. While the above sounds promising, these studies were not conducted on humans, so more research is warranted in this respect.

Read: DIY Natural Shampoo – Better Alternative That Works Compared To Harsh Chemicals

Bentonite Clay as a Skincare Product

Bentonite clay has been used as a treatment for dermatitis [4], a condition in which the skin becomes red, swollen, and sore, usually caused by contact with an external irritant, or an allergic reaction.

Quaternium-18 bentonite lotion has been shown to be useful as a treatment for dermatitis caused by poison ivy or poison oak [4], and for individuals with chronic hand dermatitis due to allergies [11]. Bentonite has also been found to be useful for diaper dermatitis in infancy [12].

The reason bentonite is an effective treatment for dermatitis could be because it acts as a barrier between your skin and potential irritants or toxins [9]. 

Bentonite clay also appears to be a beneficial ingredient to add to sunscreens, and it has been reported that the clay improves functional properties such as water resistance and helps it to adhere more effectively to your skin [10].

Bentonite clay has also shown to be very effective at absorbing excess oil for people with acne-prone skin. 

“It absorbs sebum and is good for those with oily skin,” says Dr. Cybele Fishman, MD, an integrative board-certified dermatologist in New York City [2].

Are there any Side Effects of Bentonite Clay?

Currently there are no known side effects to using bentonite clay. There have been some cases of people becoming sick after ingesting too much clay, however this is rare. When taken in modest amounts, there is very little risk of having a negative reaction [4].

It is important to note that bentonite clay supplements are not regulated by the FDA, which means it is difficult to be certain that what you’re consuming is safe. Given its absorptive nature, there is a chance that the clay could be contaminated with heavy metals, although there does not seem to be very many reports of incidents wherein someone ingested contaminated bentonite clay [2]. 

When using on the skin, always first apply it to a small area to see how your skin reacts. If you have no negative reaction, then you are likely fine to use it on a larger area of the body.

How to Use Bentonite Clay

Bentonite clay can be used orally or topically. The easiest way to ingest the clay is in capsule-form. Clay capsules can be purchased online or from a health food store.

One way to use bentonite clay on the skin is to make a mask. You can make a mask at home by purchasing bentonite clay powder and mixing it with purified water to form a paste. The following are two mask recipes from cbdmedic.com:

Bentonite Acne Fighting Mask

Ingredients:
2 tbsp bentonite clay
3 drops tea tree oil
¼ tsp apple cider vinegar
Rosewater or distilled water (as needed)

Instructions:
Mix the rosewater with bentonite clay until it forms a smooth, wet paste.

Once that is done, add the other ingredients.

Apply the mask on your face, excluding your eyes and mouth.

Leave on until it hardens.

Wash off with warm water.

Bentonite Hydrating Skin Mask

Ingredients:
2 tbsp bentonite clay
Rosewater (as needed)
¼ tsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp jojoba seed oil
3 drops lavender oil
5 drops calendula infused oil

Instructions:
Again, mix the rosewater with clay until it forms a paste

Next, add the rest of the ingredients.

Apply the mask all over your face, but avoid your eyes and mouth.

Leave the mask on for 15 minutes.

Then, wash it off with warm water.

A Low-Risk Treatment

While more research needs to be done to determine exactly how bentonite clay acts in and on the body, there is some evidence to suggest that it can be beneficial both orally and topically to human health. 

Because it appears to have very few side effects, bentonite clay may be a beneficial addition to your skincare or health routine. Be sure to speak to your doctor if you are currently taking any medications that bentonite may interfere with.

Keep Reading: Want better skin? Try this DIY coconut oil baking soda facial cleanser

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.

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Brittany Hambleton
Team Writer
Brittany is a freelance writer and editor with a Bachelor of Science in Foods and Nutrition and a writer’s certificate from the University of Western Ontario. She enjoyed a stint as a personal trainer and is an avid runner. Brittany loves to combine running and traveling, and has run numerous races across North America and Europe. She also loves chocolate more than anything else… the darker, the better!

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