Bentonite clay has been used to improve health for thousands of years, but modern trends are just starting to catch on. Made of weathered, volcanic ash, bentonite clay is a natural product from the earth that has unlimited potential for wellness.
Named for Fort Benton, Montana, bentonite clay is used to refer to clay harvested there and other locations. It has become the ubiquitous term when it comes to weathered, volcanic ash clays.
Bentonite clay has many health benefits largely due to the fact that when clay is used topically or internally it initiates chemical processes that attract positive ions to its negative electrical charge.
This means that it can help to rid the body of toxins, but also boost digestion and lead to reduced inflammation.
9 Health Benefits of Bentonite Clay
Bentonite clay has numerous health benefits, both internal and topically. These are the most popular ways to use this natural, earthy supplement.
1. Rich in Nutrients
Bentonite clay is chock full of nutrients. Because clay is a natural product from the earth, it is safe for ingestion and in fact offers a hefty nutritional boost.
While there are no known side effects, children and pregnant women should not take it, and anyone who takes prescription medications should be sure to check with their doctor to make sure there are no overlapping concerns.
Clay is rich in minerals which are commonly low in many people’s diets. It includes:
While these nutrients can be received from other supplements, taking them in via a natural substance like bentonite clay can help to ensure that they absorb better in the digestive tract.
2. Boosts Digestion
Bentonite clay is safe to take internally and when used, can help to boost digestion. This works in several ways.
First, clay can neutralize bacteria in the body which is harmful and can lead to digestive and gut problems. Secondly, not only can clay absorb viruses and other invaders in the body, but it can also address digestive upset symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, and intestinal pain.
It can even address more chronic conditions like IBS and certain forms of irritable bowel disease, although it always needs to be run by your doctor if you’re facing chronic disease.
Bentonite clay has a protective effect on the gut lining, which means it can naturally help to defend against the development of leaky gut and can prevent it from worsening if it is already present.
Clay is best used for digestive benefits when taken regularly.
3. Increases Natural Immunity
In the same way that clay can remove viruses or bacteria from the digestive system, so it protects overall immunity. It can absorb and prevent growth of common bacteria but it can also treat more dangerous infections like salmonella, staph, MRSA, and E. coli. (source)
It can even work in situations where the bacteria have become antibiotic resistant.
While clay has proven benefits, it’s always important to keep your doctor in the loop, especially when it comes to dangerous bacteria.
Don’t self-medicate with clay if antibiotics have been recommended and don’t take with antibiotics as the clay can reduce the efficiency of them.
4. Detoxes the Body
In a similar way that it can remove bacteria and viruses from the body, clay can also promote natural detox. Because clay has negative ions, it can attract positively charged ions in the body and bind with them.
Items with positive charges in the body can include toxins and chemicals from the environment that make their way into the body, such as VOCs (volatile organic compounds), heavy metals, and other harmful substances.
You can take advantage of bentonite clay’s detox benefits by ingesting clay daily. Add a half-teaspoon to a full glass of water and drink it. While you might notice a slight earthy taste, it doesn’t have a strong flavor or scent, making it easy to consume.
When you’re just starting a bentonite clay detox, start very small—perhaps even just one-eighth of a teaspoon, and gradually increase over several days to a few weeks. Pay attention to how you feel. Don’t exceed more than one full teaspoon daily.
You can drink bentonite clay daily, or you can do it a few times per week, or you can do it sporadically (drink it daily for a week or two, and then take a few weeks or months off).
When you’re first getting started with a clay detox, you may notice detox symptoms like headaches, body aches, or fatigue as the clay rids the body of toxins. Hydrate more as needed to help address this discomfort.
Before ingesting clay, ensure that the type you’ve purchased is for internal use as some products are exclusively for topical purposes.
5. Supports Healthy Skin
Clay can help to promote healthy, supple, and vibrant skin by adhering to bacteria and other toxins on the surface and removing them.
Clay masks are a popular spa therapy that can also help to promote skin firmness and elasticity and can help to keep pores free and clear, leading to reduced blemishes and acne occurrence.
Clay is so nourishing and supportive of healthy skin that it’s also an effective topical therapy for cuts, burns, stings, and rashes—even poison ivy.
Bentonite clay can be used regularly without harsh side effects. It’s also beneficial for addressing eczema and psoriasis without further aggravating the conditions.
6. Builds Respiratory Health
Respiratory infections can range from mildly irritating to dangerous, especially in those with compromised immune systems or existing chronic conditions. Clay can help to combat adenovirus and similar infections that cause respiratory issues like difficulty breathing.
It can be taken internally with water, one-quarter to one-half teaspoon daily. It’s important to understand that clay can’t replace medical treatment of infections, but is a natural therapy that may improve health and help other treatments to be more effective.
7. Encourages Natural Weight Loss
Fat in the body stores toxins, so in much the same way that clay can bind to toxins and remove them from the body, it can help to encourage the shedding of excess body fat.
Consuming clay internally can work well in conjunction with eating antioxidant rich and alkalizing foods and gut-boosting nutrients.
While research on the effects of clay on weight loss is limited, it has shown that regular intake of bentonite clay can lower cholesterol levels and result in lowered inflammation, both of which are associated with healthier body weights.
8. Purifies Drinking Water
Fluoride is added to drinking water and dental products because it’s thought to prevent cavities, but the problem is that fluoride stays in the body and has been linked to chronic conditions like thyroid disease, diabetes, hormone disruption, brain damage, inflammation, and toxicity.
When clay is added to basic tap water along with magnesium or pH balanced drops, it can help to increase the purity of the water. It’s far simpler and less expensive than most in-home filtration or purification systems and is perfect for drinking water on the go.
9. Improves Dental Health
The mouth has the potential to be a breeding ground for bacteria, toxins, and chemicals. Even with proper dental healthcare methods, the gums can still be susceptible to inflammation and disease, many times in response to hormone changes, diet, lifestyle, and side effects from medications.
Clay can bind to the toxins in the mouth, including around the teeth and gums, and remove them. This can both be preventive for gum disease or inflammation and can also help to naturally address it.
Bentonite clay is naturally antibacterial which is why it’s commonly seen in natural toothpaste and mouthwash. You don’t have to buy existing products though—you can easily make your own.
Even brushing your teeth with pure clay powder is an effective way of cleansing the mouth.
Swishing with clay in water once or twice daily can help to address gum inflammation and can even work to balance mouth irritations like canker sores, cuts, or burns.
Bottom line: Bentonite clay has numerous health benefits that stem from its ability to bind with toxins, chemicals, and bacteria and remove them from the body. It can be used internally or topically, and is safe for regular use.
14 Ways to Use Bentonite Clay
Bentonite clay is a completely natural product with few known side effects or complications. Use it in the following ways to boost your health and level up your wellness routine.
Whether it’s for your skin, your mouth, or your digestion, or anything in between, bentonite clay is the kind of staple you’ll always want to have in your medicine cabinet.
- Apply clay directly to skin to address conditions like eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and rashes. Mix clay and water in a one-to-one ratio to form a paste. Apply to affected areas a few times a day for as long as needed.
- Use clay for acne, pimples, or skin blemishes. Apply to the affected area after mixing with water and allow to dry. Gently cleanse with warm water. Use once or twice daily as needed.
- Exfoliate the skin by making a facial mask with clay.
- Fight wrinkles and saggy skin by using clay masks, which help to boost collagen and increase natural firmness.
- Take the sting out of bug bites and stings by applying the area as a poultice.
- Address minor burns by applying a clay paste.
- Add one-third of a cup of bentonite clay to your bath for a whole-body skin-soothing and nourishing experience. Soak for 30 minutes and moisturize with coconut oil or a similar body oil afterward.
- Spread clay paste on your armpits daily for a few weeks to a month to ease the transition from conventional, toxic antiperspirants to natural deodorants, or even to eliminate the need for deodorant altogether. Alternatively, you can use it to make your own deodorant by pairing it with some coconut oil and applying as a deodorant paste. You can even add your preferred essential oils for a scented version.
- Gargle clay in your mouth for 30-60 seconds as a detoxifying mouth wash. Spit and rinse afterward. Do not swallow, as the clay will collect toxins from the mouth that you don’t want to ingest. This is especially beneficial for gum disease or gingivitis.
- Dip your tooth brush in bentonite clay and use as a natural tooth powder. It is basically tasteless and can help to clean the teeth without harmful ingredients and does not bother sensitive teeth.
- Swish daily with bentonite clay in water to help add necessary minerals to the mouth but also to strengthen tooth enamel and boost natural whiteness.
- Bentonite clay can be used as a baby powder to cut down on redness, irritation, or infection in the diaper area. Apply the plain powder in the same way that other baby powder works.
- Use clay as a natural way to help pets recover from illness, too. It’s safe and can reduce vomiting or diarrhea.
- Clay can bind to parasites within the body and help to remove them, although if you have a true parasite its essential to consult a qualified medical practitioner for a proper line of treatment.
How and Where to Purchase Bentonite Clay
Bentonite clay is available for purchase in most health food stores and online. When choosing a product, make sure that it suits your purposes.
While all clay can be used topically, some of it will be marked that it’s not to be used internally. To ingest clay, make sure to choose a supplemental form of clay that is safe for internal use.
Clay is a grayish or cream color that can sometimes have a greenish hue. If clay appears to be bright white it can be a sign that the product has gone bad and should not be used. Most clay will appear brown, tan, or a medium gray color.
Clay doesn’t have a strong odor and only has a mildly earthy taste.
To determine the dose, follow the instructions on your product, but always start smaller than recommended and work your way up to avoid any unpleasant detox symptoms, which can be more common when first starting to use clay.
Aimee McNew, MNT, CNTP, is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, thyroid problems, infertility, and digestive wellness. She ate her way back to health using a Paleo diet, lost 80 pounds, and had a healthy baby after numerous miscarriages. She focuses on simple nutrition practices that promote long-lasting results.