What is bentonite clay used for?
Bentonite clay, also known as montmorillonite clay or calcium bentonite clay, is an ancient home remedy that is used for a variety of skin issues. It is a fine powder obtained from volcanic ash.
The composition of bentonite clay varies from region to region as per the geographical location. But its main ingredient is hydrated aluminum silicate. Other constituents in it include minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium.
People have been eating or applying bentonite clay on their skin. It is used for treating various health issues such as
Nowadays, bentonite clay is also used as a base in various cosmetics and products of daily use such as
What are the health benefits of bentonite clay?
Most of the research studies conducted on the health benefits of bentonite clay have been conducted on animals. Studies conducted on humans are lacking or are insufficient. The clay offers an array of possible benefits, but for which, further research is needed.
As per the current research, bentonite clay can offer following health benefits
- Removing aflatoxins from the liver
- Providing antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity on skin infections and ulcers
- Relieving the allergic reactions to poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac
- Alleviating dermatitis
- Soothing diaper rash
- Preventing skin tan or sunburns
Bentonite clay is a good absorbent. It absorbs dirt and oil from the skin and helps cleanse oily, acne-prone skin. The clay absorbs excess water from stools and, thus, can help relieve occasional diarrhea.
Do not substitute bentonite clay for any of the treatments that your doctor has advised. There is not enough substantial research to recommend bentonite clay as the primary treatment for any of the health issues.
Is bentonite clay safe?
It is generally OK to apply bentonite clay on your skin and hair as long as you do not get any allergic reaction. Therefore, before applying on a large part of your face or skin, apply only a little bit first. As the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the production and labeling of cosmetics, it is difficult to say how the products that contain bentonite clay will turn out after their use. Therefore, you need to try them out by yourself.
There are two reports of bentonite clay causing low potassium levels (hypokalemia)—one in a cat and the other one in a girl after oral consumption. But the side effects can be attributed to the intake of excessive quantities of bentonite clay.
Though safety studies suggest that bentonite clay is safe, there is a possibility they are contaminated with poisonous metals such as arsenic, mercury and lead. The FDA has banned at least two branded products of bentonite clay because of the presence (more than the permissible limit) of lead in them. Hence, always ask your doctor before taking any brand of bentonite clay.
Eating a lot of bentonite clay can be a sign of an underlying condition known as pica. Pica is a compulsive eating disorder to eat items other than food. It is a sign that either your diet lacks minerals or you have a psychological problem.
There is a lack of safety data in specific populations, such as pregnant and lactating women, children, older people and those with specific medical conditions. Hence, we recommend asking your doctor before taking bentonite clay.
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Iranian Journal of Public Health