Bentonite clay is a popular name and has widespread use as a component in various dermatological formulations. Along with providing excellent skin benefits, this clay also has numerous health benefits. Bentonite acts as a natural laxative and helps alleviate constipation in people with irritable bowel syndrome. It absorbs toxins and pollutants from our body and helps in detoxification.
Bentonite can also help balance the pH of our body, changing it from acidic to alkaline. Let us find out what is bentonite clay, which gives bentonite its versatility, and how we can use this excellent product.
What is Bentonite Clay?
Bentonite clay the collective term for montmorillonite is a clay formed from the ash of volcanoes. Bentonite forms from weathering of the volcanic ash, most often in the presence of water. The name Bentonite originates from the location of the most extensive source of the clay which is Fort Benton, WY.
For centuries bentonite is in use for geophagy which is internally soothing digestive ailments and pelotherapy which is a topical application to absorb toxins from the skin (1). Bentonite clay produces an electrical charge on contact with water; it becomes negatively charged. This negative charge attracts positively charged particles like toxic metals and chemicals.
Bentonite clay holds onto impurities and helps in their elimination from the body. It also affects the body’s pH and helps our body reach a proper balance. Bentonite clay is a mineral-rich recuperating substance that has been used for a considerable length of time to treat various ailments, predominantly skin-related.
Bentonite clay molecules hold an electrical charge when it contains water in it. It does a fabulous work of drawing out oils or other impurities from your skin pores. When you apply the clay mask, your skin gets all the minerals, and the contaminants are pulled out in exchange. It also provides an aid in circulation, which helps with general skin health as well as tone.
Types of bentonite clay
Different types of bentonite are available and are each named after the dominant element found in them such as potassium, sodium, calcium, and aluminum. The two most commercially used bentonite clays are sodium and calcium bentonite clay.
Sodium bentonite expands when wet, absorbing as much as several times its dry mass in water. This property of swelling makes sodium bentonite a very useful sealant since it provides a self-sealing and a low permeability barrier. It also possesses excellent colloidal properties.
Calcium bentonite is the main active ingredient of fuller’s earth. It is a useful adsorbent of ions in solution. Calcium bentonite clay can be treated with sodium bentonite to add to its properties.
Top bentonite clay benefits?
1. Treating stomach disorders
Bentonite, when taken orally, relieves from constipation, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and stomach disorders (2). Bentonite is mostly prescribed as a natural laxative source for sufferers of regular constipation and bowel irregularities.
For those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, bentonite modulates the bowel habits in constipation (3). Research has shown that bentonite increases the digestive enzyme activities in the pancreas and small intestinal in pigs.
2. Skin health
Bentonite clay is used as a base for many dermatologic formulations. The essential minerals present in the bentonite clay, like silica and calcium, strengthens the connective tissue including muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, thus preventing the skin from sagging.
Also, it makes your skin super soft. Bentonite clay gets negatively charged on contact with water when used as a face pack, it pulls out hydrogen from cells, allowing room for oxygen.
This helps with circulation and increases the overall skin tone and health. It helps shrink the pores by drawing out the impurities and toxins. It also helps in balancing sebum production.
3. Alleviates skin conditions
Poison ivy and poison oak causing allergic contact dermatitis can be treated effectively with bentonite. Bentonite lotion helps diminish the allergic reaction. Bentonite when used as a formulation in a moisturizing cream, improves chronic hand dermatitis in a majority of individuals with previously uncontrolled dermatitis (4).
Bentonite has proven to act as a barrier and shield for toxic organophosphorus compound transfer across the skin. It offers physical protection which makes them an excellent substrate for skin products.
4. Detoxes the digestive tract
Animal studies have shown that bentonite clay is effective at removing specific types of gastrointestinal pathogens which includes aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are commonly found in foods such as peanuts and certain grains. Those who have unknowingly consuming aflatoxins can show signs of liver damage, improper digestion, constipation and other digestive complaints, impaired immune function, and other debilitating illness (5).
Bentonite clay adheres to these aflatoxins and ensures the removal of this toxin from our body. Creatine, a waste product from the kidneys, if not eliminated timely can increase the toxic load in the body. Bentonite decreases the serum creatinine levels by absorbing them in the gastrointestinal tract and accelerating its excretion from the intestine (6).
5. Encourages pH balance
Our everyday lifestyle, smoking, consumption of processed junk food, aerated drinks, eliminates the essential minerals from our body. Our body requires certain critical minerals to maintain optimal health. When those minerals are in deficiency, it affects your health. Our body shifts from normal pH to slightly acidic pH in the absence of minerals. Many bacteria, fungus, and yeasts thrive in this acidic environment.
Bentonite is naturally rich in minerals, high alkaline pH. One of its primary functions is to act as a catalyst, to assist the body in returning to a balanced state. Bentonite clay provides minerals and trace minerals which helps in reducing the acidic environment to alkaline.
6. Promotes a healthy gut flora
The bentonite serves as a colon cleansing agent as well as an intestinal cleanser due to its ability to eliminate toxins. These toxins are detrimental to the essential bacteria in the gut lining (7). Thus, bentonite helps support diverse and essential gut flora. A healthy gut is essential for digestive health and also for a robust immune system. Bentonite has also proven to be effective in treating the leaky gut condition.
7. Removes fluoride from water
Fluoride when present in excess can cause fluorosis and severe health hazards (8). The primary source of fluoride is water. When present in excess, fluoride can cause mottling of the enamel of the teeth and severe calcification of the joints. Bentonite clay in combination with magnesium is a helpful water filtration tool that removes excess fluoride.
8. Helps remove environmental toxins
Due to its electromagnetic properties, bentonite clay removes health-damaging environmental toxins like volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are an extensive collection of toxic chemicals commonly found in paints, cleaning supplies, office equipment, and numerous other household products.
On a daily, the exposure rate of VOCs is high, montmorillonite in bentonite filters the VOCs and thereby limits human exposure to these dangerous compounds (9).
9. Can be used as a desiccant
Bentonite is used as a desiccant due to its excellent adsorption properties. Bentonite desiccants are used to protect the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and diagnostic products from moisture degradation, and it also extends their shelf life. Bentonite desiccant offers a higher adsorption capacity than the silica gel desiccants, and it also complies with the FDA standards.
10. Other research on bentonite
- Bentonite is shown to decrease the bleeding and clotting time and therefore can be used as a hemostatic agent (10).
- Studies suggest that bentonite inhibits the growth of human cancer cell lines U251 (central nervous system, glioblastoma).
- Bentonite absorbs the thyroxine and triiodothyronine in vitro and also reduces these hormones in hyperthyroidism model mice.
- Particles of bentonite are proven to inhibit the lipopolysaccharide or concanavalin A-induced red blood cell proliferation and antibody response in vitro.
How to Use Bentonite Clay?
It is recommended not to use bentonite clay in a metal container. Do not let it come in contact with any metal object. You can use a glass bowl or cup and mix it water using a plastic stirrer or spoon. Also, do not consume it within an hour after food. Consult with your doctor if you are under medications or supplements. Let’s see how to use this healthy clay.
- If you are going to use bentonite clay as a face mask then make a face pack with the help of water. You can apply this face mask directly on to your face. Leave the pack for 15-20 minutes for drying. Clean it off with cold water. You will achieve healthy and fresh-looking skin.
- Application of bentonite clay on skin conditions, such as insect bites, cuts, itching, eczema, psoriasis, and burns, can do wonders in accelerating the healing process. You can apply its paste, after mixing clay with water, directly on the affected skin area. Leave it for some time, like 1-2 hours, and wash it off.
- You can even add a one-fourth cup of bentonite clay in the bath and enjoy a relaxing detox bath for providing you with soft skin.
- Bentonite clay can also be used as a tooth powder ingredient along with other elements such as baking soda, Cinnamon powder, Cloves powder, Calcium powder, Mint leaf powder, and essential oils.
- Use bentonite clay and water as a mouth rinse solution. Mix 1 teaspoon of clay with 1/2 cup of water in a glass jar and mix it well with a plastic lid. Rinse your mouth for 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat the process until the whole solution finishes off. Thereafter, clean your mouth with normal water.
- If you want to improve your digestion then drink 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of bentonite clay in a cup of water. Make sure that the clay is safe for internal use. You will soon experience better digestion and energy throughout your body.
Also read: Detox Drinks – How Do They help?
Final words on bentonite clay benefits
On coming in contact with water, Bentonite gets charged and binds to pollutants, toxins, and heavy metals. Thus, bentonite clay acts as an excellent detoxifying agent. Furthermore, it has proven effective in treating numerous skin conditions and helps manage various digestive ailments. Research is being undertaken to understand the efficacy of bentonite for treating countless other diseases and conditions.