For centuries, cultures the world over have turned to ancient clays like bentonite for therapeutic purposes ranging from healing rashes and bug bites to drawing out poisons and promoting digestive health. Fast-forward to the twenty-first century and bentonite clay is still a popular and effective therapy. Here we’ll look at how bentonite clay supports whole-body wellness and cleansing.
What Is Bentonite Clay?
Also known as montmorillonite, bentonite clay is clay formed from the ash of volcanoes. The name “Bentonite” comes from the location of the largest source of the clay: Fort Benton, WY. Since the time of Aristotle, clays like bentonite have been used internally (known as “geophagy”) to soothe digestive ailments and topically (known as “pelotherapy”) to absorb toxins from the skin. If you have read stories or seen movies that depict sick people being slathered with mud, wrapped in a sheet, and miraculously healed—these experiences may very well be the result of bentonite clay.
How Does Bentonite Clay Work?
When a remedy like bentonite clay has been used for centuries, you know there’s something to it. Though our ancestors didn’t know how this clay worked, modern research has provided answers.
Believe it or not, it’s all about electricity. You see, your body is as much electric in nature as it is chemical. Your nervous system, brain, and circulatory system all operate on electrical impulses. This is what is measured when you have an EKG, for example.
Bentonite clay produces an electrical charge when it contacts water. This negative charge attracts positively-charged toxins like toxic metals and chemicals. Like a magnetic sponge, it holds onto impurities and carries them out of the body for elimination.
6 Health Benefits of Bentonite Clay?
Bentonite clay supports normal digestion, bacterial balance, the immune system, the liver, the body’s natural detoxification abilities, and more. Let’s look at the science behind the health benefits of bentonite clay.
1. Detoxes the Digestive Tract
Animal studies have shown that bentonite is effective at removing specific types of gastrointestinal pathogens, including aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are commonly found in foods that harbor mold, such as peanuts and certain grains. When ingested frequently, aflatoxins can lead to liver damage, impaired immune function, digestive complaints, and debilitating illness.
2. Encourages pH Balance
Without a diet that’s rich in vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods, most of us don’t get enough alkalizing, mineral-rich foods in our diet. This matters because your body requires a complete collection of minerals to function. When those minerals aren’t present, it affects your health. Bentonite clay is naturally rich in minerals, and it can provide the minerals and trace minerals that you need for a healthy pH balance.
3. Promotes a Healthy Gut Microbiota
Due to its ability to keep toxins at bay in the digestive tract, bentonite helps support a diverse and robust gut microbiota. A healthy gut is essential not just for digestive health, but also a strong immune system.
4. Resists Harmful Organisms
Studies published in such prestigious journals as The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy found that the minerals in bentonite clay, and other clays, have an impressive action against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
5. Removes Fluoride From Water
Common in dental products and added to nearly all municipal water systems in the United States, fluoride is a tricky toxin to avoid. Contrary to its perceived “safety,” integrative doctors have long warned against consumption and oral use of fluoride.
Researchers at Harvard and China Medical University in Shenyang, have raised red flags over the effects of fluoride on the developing brains of children, and fluoride was officially acknowledged as a neurotoxin by The Lancet in 2014. Bentonite clay, when combined with magnesium, is a helpful water filtration tool that removes fluoride.
6. Helps Remove Environmental Toxins
Due to its magnetic properties, bentonite clay has shown promise in attracting and removing health-damaging environmental toxins like VOCs, which are a broad collection of toxic chemicals commonly found in paints, cleaning supplies, office equipment, permanent markers, and hundreds of other household products.
How You Can Use Bentonite Clay
Now that you know the science behind bentonite clay let’s look at a few practical ways you can use it to enhance your life.
Bentonite Clay Face Mask
Clays, such as bentonite, make excellent, natural face masks. They are especially beneficial for oily skin, clogged pores, or acne. Simply mix one tablespoon of bentonite clay with one tablespoon of water or two tablespoons natural yogurt (its natural probiotics nourish your skin’s microbiome). Apply a thick layer to your face and neck and allow it to dry for 15-20 minutes before rinsing with warm water. Use weekly or as a spot treatment on areas that need focused attention.
Bentonite Clay and Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Treatment
Clay-based shampoos, conditioners and hair treatments are wonderful for adding shine and body to your hair. They’re also expensive and may contain unnatural ingredients.
Instead, before your next shower, mix one cup bentonite clay, a half cup raw, organic apple cider vinegar, and one cup of warm water in a small bowl with a lid. Massage a small handful into your scalp and coat your hair thoroughly. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes and rinse. The clay will naturally draw out oil and dirt while conditioning your hair, no extra shampoo or conditioner is needed.
Save any remaining clay treatment for future use. Repeat once a week, or even use it in place of your normal shampoo and condition routine.
Bentonite Clay for Bug Bites
Bentonite can take the sting and irritation out of a bug bite. Just mix a little bentonite clay with enough water to form a paste, and apply directly to the bite. Affixing a bandage on top can prevent the paste from wearing off. Repeat as needed for relief.
Bentonite Clay for Gastrointestinal Harmony
Bentonite clay is effective at removing a variety of stomach bugs. The next time you have a stomach ache or other gastrointestinal troubles, mix a teaspoon of bentonite clay in water and chug it back. The taste is surprisingly mild and easy.
Bentonite Clay as a Natural Deodorant
Typical deodorants contain preservatives, fragrances, and other unwanted chemical ingredients like aluminum. Instead of applying those toxic concoctions, try bentonite clay. It has moisture-absorbing properties that can help reduce sweat and odors. To apply, simply use a facial brush to dust on your armpits and go!
Bentonite Clay as a Mineral Supplement
Municipal water systems (which remove trace minerals), poor soil quality, over-consumption of processed foods, medications that affect nutrient absorption, and a lack of fruits and vegetables in our diets are just a few of the reasons that most Americans don’t get enough minerals and trace minerals in their diets.
Though there are a lot of good multi-mineral and trace mineral supplements out there, bentonite clay is a great option that’s affordable, completely natural, rich in dozens of minerals and trace minerals, tasteless, and doubles as a detox remedy.
To use as a supplement, simply take a teaspoon per day in water, or add it to your smoothie. That’s it!
Are There Precautions With Using Bentonite Clay?
Though the prospect of eating clay may not seem particularly appetizing, consuming bentonite clay may offer immense benefits to your digestive and detoxification systems.
The key is to choose the right form of bentonite clay. Bentonite clay is available in food grade and non-food-grade form. Sodium Bentonite is the form of bentonite clay that’s suitable for human consumption, and Calcium Bentonite is typically used for topical application.
Don’t use bentonite clay unless it’s from a trusted source that uses third-party testing to ensure the clay is free of heavy metals and other contaminants. Talk to your natural healthcare provider before using bentonite clay if you’re pregnant or before giving it to children. And, be aware that inhaling bentonite powder can irritate the lungs.