Bentonite clay is a natural clay with a fine, soft texture that forms a paste when mixed with water. Some people use this paste for medical or cosmetic purposes, including treating rashes and acne.

Bentonite clay is present in many skin products, but some people also add it to foods or drinks hoping to relieve digestive issues or remove toxins from the body.

Research has looked at the health benefits of bentonite clay, though many studies use animal or cell models. More research is necessary for experts to understand the benefits and risks of bentonite clay in humans.

People should always speak with a doctor before using bentonite clay to treat health issues to ensure they are using the clay safely and in appropriate amounts.

This article examines the research behind 11 potential health benefits of bentonite clay and potential risks.

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Researchers believe bentonite clay adsorbs materials by sticking to their molecules or ions. As the clay leaves the body, it takes the toxin or other molecules.

When someone uses it on the skin, bentonite clay may have the power to adsorb oils and bacteria. When someone consumes the clay, it may adsorb toxins or other unwanted substances from the digestive tract.

Bentonite clay contains natural minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron, which may provide additional benefits.

Bentonite clay forms from volcanic ash. It gets its name from Fort Benton in Wyoming, where it occurs in large amounts.

People can also find this clay in other places where volcanic ash has settled into the ground. Montmorillonite clay, named after Montmorillon in France, is the same type of clay.

The following list looks at the potential benefits of bentonite clay and what the research says.

Various studies have examined bentonite clay’s effect on toxins in different models.

A 2019 study highlights bentonite clay’s effectiveness at aflatoxin sorption in earlier animal and human trials.

The researchers also tested a sodium bentonite clay on computational, in vivo, and in vitro models, suggesting it may offer a method to combat emergencies, such as an outbreak of acute aflatoxicosis.

A 2022 case study used a combination of bentonite clay, probiotics, and black seed oil to treat a 2 year old with a Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection. After four days, there were no traces of C. diff in the child’s stool samples.

According to a 2020 review, bentonite’s success as a detoxifying agent may stem from its structure.

However, a 2022 study suggests that the effectiveness of clays, including bentonite, to bind to various toxins in animal feed may depend on the type of toxin.

Despite this research, further studies on human models are necessary to further understand the extent of bentonite clay’s ability to remove toxins from the body.

How to use

People should not consume bentonite clay without speaking with a healthcare professional first. Healthcare professionals will be able to recommend the correct dosage and frequency of consuming bentonite to rid the body of toxins.

Although research suggests bentonite clay does not have toxic side effects, some types may contain traces of heavy metals, which can be harmful to human health.

A doctor can ensure that someone uses safe types and amounts or can suggest alternative treatment options.

Bentonite clay’s adsorbent power may help treat acne breakouts and oily skin. The clay may help remove sebum, or oil, from the skin’s surface, and it may have a calming effect on inflamed breakouts.

A clay face mask may help remove impurities from the skin to reduce the risk of pimples and skin infections.

However, further studies are necessary to prove the benefits of bentonite as an acne treatment.

How to use

Some commercial facial masks contain clays because of their clarifying effect on the skin. Some skin care masks contain bentonite, but people can also make a bentonite mask at home.

Mix bentonite clay powder with water to make a thick paste. Apply to the areas of skin that are prone to oil or acne. Leave the mask on for 20 minutes and rinse thoroughly. Repeat two or three times per week.

Some people use bentonite clay to cleanse specific parts of their body, including the following areas:

Many people are allergic to urushiol, the oil that poison ivy plants produce. When their skin comes into contact with poison ivy, they may develop the characteristic rash as an allergic reaction.

A poison ivy rash can cause redness, irritation, and severe itching. Bentonite clay may be an effective treatment option after exposure to poison ivy.

How to use

Wash the skin with soap and water as soon as possible after touching poison ivy. Use dish soap or a soap able to remove oils to help remove the urushiol from the skin.

Mix bentonite clay with water to form a paste and apply it to the affected area. Cover with a clean bandage or gauze pad. Repeat several times per day until the rash is gone.

Bentonite clay may be a helpful supplement for people trying to lose weight.

However, current research provides mixed evidence and typically focuses on animal models. Further research on human models is necessary to understand if bentonite can be an effective, safe weight-loss aid.

Although some traditional healing methods have used clay products for many years, there are better ways to lose weight. Reducing calorie intake and increasing physical activity levels are still the best choices.

Learn more ways to lose weight fast.

Because bentonite clay can stick to toxins, it may help regulate a person’s digestive tract.

One 2017 review suggests the clay may help some people with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation by regulating bowel movements. This use of bentonite clay merits more research but shows promise.

Adsorbent clays, such as bentonite, may also help alleviate virus-related digestive issues, such as diarrhea.

For example, rotavirus can cause severe diarrhea and spreads easily from person to person. One study found that an adsorbent clay called diosmectite helped stop rotavirus from replicating.

The 2022 case study suggests that bentonite can also help to treat diarrhea due to C. diff.

If diarrhea does not subside after treatment with clay products, a person should continue to drink plenty of fluids, try more common approaches to treating diarrhea, and contact their doctor.

How to use

People should speak with a healthcare professional before consuming bentonite clay in an attempt to treat diarrhea. A healthcare professional can suggest safe amounts to take or alternative options to relieve symptoms.

Healthcare professionals may suggest that people use barrier creams to help relieve symptoms of diaper rash.

A 2023 study suggests that calcium montmorillonite clay may enhance the antibacterial effect of barrier creams against Escherichia coli formation.

The authors highlight that montmorillonite clay may occur in creams to treat diaper rash due to its adsorption properties.

How to use

People should always speak with a healthcare professional before using a new remedy, such as bentonite clay, on a baby or child.

A healthcare professional can recommend safe products containing bentonite or specific amounts to mix and apply to their baby’s skin.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve bentonite as a sunscreen ingredient.

However, a 2023 review suggests that clay-based sorbents have an ultraviolet (UV) protection level ranging from 250–400 nanometers (nm).

The authors also highlight that creams with clay-based sorbents may increase a skin care product’s water resistance and adherence to the skin.

For this reason, people may wish to use it alongside FDA-approved sunscreens.

Excessive exposure to heavy metals, such as lead, can cause health problems, including heart problems and kidney damage. Lead exposure may also affect brain development in children.

Avoiding exposure to lead and getting tested for lead exposure are the best ways to prevent lead poisoning.

A 2022 study suggests bentonite clay nanoparticles helped to remove trace elements of residual lead and cadmium from milk.

A 2017 review also suggests that bentonite is an effective treatment for metal toxicity in animal models.

However, further research is necessary to prove this benefit in humans.

How to use

Ask a doctor before consuming bentonite clay or giving it to a child. The doctor can recommend appropriate, safe amounts of bentonite clay to remove heavy metals.

High cholesterol can increase the risk of health conditions such as heart disease. High cholesterol causes fats to build up in the blood vessels, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

A 2021 study suggests the following combinations of ingredients have a cholesterol-lowering effect on mice:

  • bentonite, grape seed extract, and turmeric
  • bentonite, grape seed extract, psyllium, and turmeric
  • bentonite, grape seed extract, turmeric, and flaxseed

However, further research is necessary to identify if this effect is true in human models.

How to use

People receiving treatment for high cholesterol should talk with their doctor before using bentonite clay or other natural remedies. Bentonite clay should not replace medical treatment for high cholesterol or heart disease.

The FDA does not regulate all bentonite clay products. As such, it can be difficult to know whether the product contains only the ingredients on the label. In fact, experts have found that some bentonite clay products may contain heavy metals.

In 2016, the FDA warned consumers not to use a certain type of bentonite clay due to its high lead levels.

Bentonite may also cause side effects when a person uses large amounts. People should always speak with a doctor before trying bentonite as a treatment option.

If someone wants to use bentonite clay, they should speak with a healthcare professional about safe options. They may also wish to have a doctor check their blood lead levels to ensure they have no exposure to lead from bentonite clay.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day while using bentonite clay. This will help flush the clay from the digestive tract and prevent constipation.

Before using bentonite clay or any natural remedy on the skin, do a patch test for allergies. Apply a small amount of the product to the area inside the elbow and wait for 24 hours. If no reaction occurs, proceed with using the product.

Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions about bentonite clay.

Can people use bentonite clay on their teeth?

Anecdotal claims may suggest that bentonite clay can help to clean or whiten teeth. However, further reputable research is necessary to understand whether there is any truth to these claims.

Is bentonite clay antifungal?

According to a 2022 research article, bentonite clay may offer some antimicrobial resistance. However, the authors emphasize that more research is necessary.

If someone is experiencing a fungal infection, they can speak with their doctor for treatment.

Bentonite clay is an ancient remedy that could hold promise as a treatment for various health conditions. It has a low risk of side effects when a person uses it in moderate amounts.

As with any natural remedy, people with health conditions should talk with their doctor before using bentonite clay to ensure that it is safe.

A doctor may be able to suggest other, more effective treatment options.