Never heard of bentonite clay before? Well, then you may be very surprised to hear that it’s a “healing clay” that cleanses and heals the body. In fact, many people enjoy bentonite clay benefits by taking internally (in other words, drinking and eating it), on top of using it externally on the skin.
Bentonite clay, also called Montmorillonite clay, is taking off as a wellness trend among people who are looking to help detoxify their bodies and defend against illnesses. While it’s been used for centuries around the world to promote better health and ward off disease, this healing clay recently gained some spotlight in the U.S. and Europe as a trusted product* that can be added to any detoxification program.
Bentonite Clay Benefits in History
Bentonite clay is composed of ash made from volcanos. The largest known source of bentonite clay is found in Fort Benton, Wyoming where numerous volcanos are present, so the name of the clay stems from the town where today much of the supply is still harvested.
The other name that bentonite clay is typically given, Montmorillonite clay, stems from the region of France called Montmorillon, where the clay was first discovered. Today the clay is harvested mostly in the U.S., France and Italy. “Bentonite” is actually the trade name that the clay has been given, but people for the most part speak about Montmorillonite and Bentonite clay interchangeably and are referring to the same product.
Bentonite clay stems back far in history as a traditional healing method for protecting the body from disease. It has been reported that several traditional cultures living in regions of the Andes, Central Africa and Australia have consumed clays in numerous ways for centuries. Because the clay is readily available and required no modern processing, it has been a popular and cost-effective way of “detoxing” the body for quite some time.
How Bentonite Clay Works
We come into contact with a range of toxins numerous times every day, as toxins are given off from common products like paint, cleaning supplies, markers, substances used in building homes, low-quality unpurified water, and even pesticides that are widely sprayed regions that have farming present. It is quite common to inject a range of different toxins just by breathing in the fumes that are present all around us, not to mention the toxins that we receive from an unhealthy diet filled with low-quality processed foods.
“Heavy metal toxins” usually refer to substances like mercury, cadmium, lead and benzene. These can be found in the products previously mentioned, and also in foods that contain high fructose corn syrup or certain types of fish. Bentonite clay benefits your body by helping to expel many of these toxins (thus as part of a heavy metal detox) and can increase immunity and reduce inflammation. (1)
On top of being able to draw-out toxins from the body, the clay itself has a range of nutrients. Bentonite clay is known to have an abundance of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, silica, sodium, copper, iron and potassium.
When ingested into the body, either in a drink form or by eating the clay, its vitamins and minerals are absorbed similarly to how a supplement would be. Therefore, some people use it as a supplement since the clay is a natural source of important dietary nutrients.
Bentonite clay also benefits the body because it has the ability to produce a charge that is electrical in nature when it comes in contact with liquid — similar to how earthing (touching your bare feet to the earth, in particular wet grass). When the clay touches any type of fluid (normally water), it takes on a different charge and is thought to bind to any present toxins within the fluid.
While in its natural state, bentonite clay has negatively charged molecules, most toxins and heavy metals have positively charged molecules. This allows the two to bind together easily and stay united while the toxin removal process happens.
Bentonite clay essentially “seeks” toxins in the body to bind with because naturally any substance that has a missing ion (which gives it its “charge”) looks for oppositely charged types of substances that will make it complete. Upon binding, the clay is then able to help remove toxins, chemicals, impurities and “heavy metals” from the gut, skin and mouth.
If you ever use chia seeds in baking and combine them with any milk or water, you have likely experienced their ability to swell and soak up the fluid that is around them, creating a gel-like consistency. Bentonite clay has a similar ability: It absorbs the liquids that is comes into contact with and expands to extract toxins from the liquid.
10 Bentonite Clay Benefits and Uses
When combined with water and left to dry on the skin as a clay mask, the clay is able to bind to bacteria and toxins living on the surface of the skin and within pores to extract these from the pours. This helps to reduce the outbreak of blemishes, alleviate redness, and also to fight allergic reactions from irritating lotions or face washes, and even helps help poison ivy.
Thanks to the clay’s special ability to act as an antibiotic treatment when applied topically to the skin, the clay can help to calm skin infections and speed up healing time of wounds or eczema, even when prescription antibiotics were not able to help solve the problem. (2, 3, 4)
2. Used in the Bath as a Soaking Liquid to Remove Toxins
The clay can be added to your bath water and used as a soaking liquid, binding to the toxins that are dispelled from your skin. The clay leaves skin feeling smooth, hydrated, and less inflamed, all while you relax in the tub effortlessly!
3. Allows Cells to Receive More Oxygen
Bentonite clay helps to get oxygen into the cells because it has the ability to pull excess hydrogen from the cells, leaving room for oxygen to take its place.
When cells have more oxygen entering them, you feel more energized and your body can repair itself more easily from illness or hard workouts, including improving muscle recovery.
Much of the foods that are present in the “Standard American Diet” have an acidic reaction in the body, meaning they alter the body’s preferred pH level to make it more acidic than we’d like for it to be.
The less healthy someone’s diet is, normally the more acidic their body is. This is the case because the stomach needs to work extra hard to produce strong acids in order to break down these foods, creating the need for even more alkalizing foods to balance things out.
Proper digestion requires enzymes that are made from alkalizing minerals, so when alkalizing foods do not enter the body, acidity remains high and digestion suffers. Bentonite clay contains alkalizing minerals, which brings the level of the body’s pH to a more optimal balance between acidity and alkalinity, helping to make the blood, saliva and urine more alkaline.
5. Boosts Probiotics
By removing toxins, digestive-distress causing chemicals and heavy metals from the gut, bentonite clay helps to promote the “good bacteria” or probiotics living in your gut wall and decrease the amount of harmful “bad bacteria.”
A healthy gut wall prevents us from experiencing malabsorption of nutrients from our food, increases our immunity, and also helps to elevate our mood and brain function. Research has also shown that bentonite clay can bind to particular toxins like “aflatoxins” that are common in the standard diet, found in things like peanuts and some grains.
When left unattended, an influx of aflatoxins can contribute to liver damage and potentially even the onset of certain cancers. Because of bentonite clay’s negatively charged electrons, it’s able to withstand acids found in the gut and survive long enough to bind to toxins. (5)
6. Relieves Digestive Problems (Constipation, IBS, Nausea, etc.)
Thanks to its ability to neutralize bacteria in the gut and kill viruses, bentonite clay helps to alleviate many digestive problems. It is often used as relief for nausea and vomiting by pregnant women, is a safe way to remedy constipation, and helps with IBS.
Results from one study carried out in 1998 showed that bentonite clay was extremely successful at absorbing harmful rotavirus and caronavirus toxins within the gut of young mammals. Rotaviruses are one of the leading causes of gastrointestinal distress, such as diarrhea and nausea, in infants and toddlers. (5)
Bentonite clay benefits your pets as well. It is safe for pet consumption within your own home and can alleviate pet’s nausea and vomiting in the same way. You can add bentonite clay to your pet’s water to help reduce symptoms like vomiting. Mix ¼ cup or less of the clay into their water until it dissolves; they should not taste anything or even notice that it’s there, but should feel better pretty quickly.
7. Boosts Immunity by Killing Harmful Bacteria and Viruses
Bentonite clay was also found to be effective at killing harmful bacteria. In a study published by the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, “results indicate that specific mineral products have intrinsic, heat-stable antibacterial properties, which could provide an inexpensive treatment against numerous human bacterial infections.” (6)
More research is still needed on the topic but results of studies so far appear to be promising in terms of how the clay can be used as a treatment for these gut-related illnesses. On top of killing these types of infections and viruses, bentonite clay benefits your immune system by keeping the gut wall strong.
Much of the immune system actually lives inside of the gut, and when the gut wall is compromised, toxins are better able to leach into the bloodstream and cause serious problems. By protecting the gut wall and decreasing the amount of pesticides, toxins, bacteria and chemicals that could potentially enter the blood, the body is better able to protect its health.
8. Improves the Health of Teeth and Gums
The mouth is one of the most susceptible areas of the body when it comes to harmful outside “invaders” taking over, like bacteria and toxins.
Bentonite clay binds to unhealthy substances in the mouth, such as around the teeth and on the tongue and gums, and helps to remove them before you swallow them and become sick. Because of Bentonite’s antibacterial properties, it has been used in natural toothpastes and even mixed with water and used as a daily rinse.
Bentonite clay has been researched as an effective way to remove some of the fluoride that is often in drinking water.
When combined with magnesium, the clay has been shown to benefit the purity of tap water, which leads to some promising possibilities for using it in the future as a widespread cost-effective water purification method. (7)
10. Useful As a Baby Powder Alternative
Bentonite clay can be applied to any area on the skin of babies that is irritated, red or needs soothing in the same way that traditional powders are used. Plus, it is very gentle and naturally cleansing.
Apply a small amount of the clay directly to the skin and allow it to sit for several minutes before wiping/rinsing it away.
How to Effectively Start Using Bentonite Clay
Bentonite clay normally comes in a gray or cream color, not a bright white color, which can indicate that it may have gone bad. The clay should also be odorless and not have much of any taste at all.
If you plan on consuming bentonite clay by mouth (ingesting it either by eating or drinking the clay), try this:
- Drink 1/2 to 1 teaspoon once per day as many days of the week as you’d like. Mix the clay with water, preferably in a jar with a lid where you can shake the clay and make it dissolve. Then drink it right away.
If you plan on only using it externally on your skin, try this:
- Enjoy the bentonite clay benefits by adding a ¼ of a cup of the clay to your bath and massage your skin with it. Or just allow the clay to dissolve into the water and soak it in for as long as you’d like, then rinse your skin well with clean water.
- Try gargling the clay in your mouth with some water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, similarly to using mouth wash. Then spit out the clay and rinse your mouth with clean water.
- Try creating a face mask by smearing the clay directly onto your skin, especially anywhere where you have blemishes, red spots, irritations or scarring. Allow the clay to dry (this usually takes about 20 minutes) and then rinse it off with warm water. It’s recommended to use the clay mask one or twice per week for best results.
- For scrapes or bug bites, apply a concentrated amount of the clay directly to the trouble area and cover with a Band-Aid or gauze, then let it sit for about 2 hours, then rinse it off.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive and safe way to help rid toxins from your body, consider trying bentonite clay in one of its many uses. Whether you are looking to clear skin irritations or undergo a more dramatic internal detox, experiment with this traditional and completely natural method of healing that has been practiced for hundreds of years.
Some bentonite clay products contains trace amounts of lead and may not be appropriate for consumption by children and pregnant women.
*The FDA is warning consumers to not purchase “Bentonite Me Baby” by Alikay Naturals because of a potential lead poisoning risk, as this product apparently has unsafe levels of lead. (8)