This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
Bentonite clay has been used throughout history but has recently gained popularity. In this article, we will discuss its many uses and benefits.
Bentonite clay is a powder derived from volcanic ash called “Montmorillonite,” It is an ingredient used in many detox and cleansing products such as skincare recipes, mud packs, and detox baths. It is believed to absorb and remove toxins, chemicals, heavy metals, and other impurities from the body. Bentonite clay has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments. Both Aristotle (384–322 BC) and Marco Polo (1254 – 1324) wrote about humans consuming bentonite clay for health reasons.
Over the centuries, bentonite clay has been used in a variety of ways. Here are the most common uses of the powder and its benefits:
- Skin Health: To improve skin health, bentonite clay has been used to help remove impurities that clog the pores, applied to the skin as a mask or cleanser, and used to remove excess oil for those with oily skin. An animal study found that bentonite clay promoted an increase in the number of collagen fibers on the treated skin.  Collagen is the protein that allows the skin to heal and give it firmness.
- Digestive Relief: Bentonite clay may help with digestive issues by relieving constipation, treating diarrhea, and removing harmful particles from the digestive tract. A study on aflatoxins (poisonous substances produced by some types of fungi) found that clay-rich in montmorillonite protected the toxin in both humans and animals by decreasing their bioavailability the gastrointestinal tract. 
- Promotes Weight Loss: Bentonite clay expands in the stomach when consumed with water. Drinking this mixture before meals can help reduce feelings of hunger. This could lead to less food consumed, and ultimately, weight loss. A lab study found that montmorillonite played a role in “preventing obesity, hyperlipidemia, and hepatic steatosis in rats fed a high-fat diet.” 
- Assists Thyroid Function: The thyroid is a gland that regulates metabolism. When the thyroid produces too much hormone, hyperthyroidism occurs. This can cause weight loss, weakness, irritability, and a racing heart. Montmorillonite consumption has been shown to have an anti-hyperthyroidism effect on rats. 
There are many ways to reap the benefits of bentonite clay. Here are some of the most popular methods:
- Bentonite Clay Face Mask: Face masks are used to help with treating oily skin and breakouts. They also have a calming effect on the skin, decreasing the risk of skin infections, pimples, and breakouts.
- Bentonite For Hair: Bentonite clay can remove excess dirt and oil from the hair. It also helps strengthen damaged or dry hair, alleviate frizziness, heat damage, lack of shine, and eliminate dandruff.
- Bentonite Clay Bath: Taking a bath with bentonite clay has is believed to provide the following benefits:
- Soothe irritated skin
- Lessen the severity of skin allergies
- Helps heal skin burns
- Anti-aging benefits
- Detox heavy metals such as mercury
- Soothes insect bites and stings
A foot bath can also help alleviate joint pain, remove grime, unclog pores, and soften rough skin on the heels.
- Bentonite Clay Deodorant. Bentonite clay is an all-natural deodorant. It helps decrease odor and inflammation, reduces redness and potential irritation after shaving underarms, and pulls impurities and toxins out of the body. It can also absorb sweat and relax the sweat glands.
- Drink Bentonite Clay Consuming just 1 to 2 teaspoons of bentonite clay in 8 ounces of water is believed to help detoxify the body, improve digestion, boost the immune system, improve alkaline levels, and have an anti-radiation effect. For best results, drinking a minimum of 60 minutes before meals or 2-3 hours after meals is recommended.
There have been no serious side effects associated with bentonite clay. However, it is advised to drink from a glass container and refrain from using metal utensils to mix the clay and water: (the bentonite could attract the metals in the utensils). In addition to eliminating toxins and other impurities from the body, good bacteria and nutrients could be inadvertently removed from the body as well. To reduce this risk, consume bentonite clay on an empty stomach. Another option is to take a dietary supplement.
To prevent constipation, drink water throughout the day after consuming bentonite clay. Some choose to add psyllium (a fiber laxative) to their water to decrease the risk of constipation. Pregnant and lactating women should avoid consuming bentonite clay, as well as older individuals. Individuals taking medication should consult with their physician before taking bentonite clay.
The FDA does not regulate bentonite clay, but in 2016, they advised consumers not to use “Best Bentonite Clay,” a Best Bentonite product, located in Guthrie, Oklahoma. It was determined that the “product contains elevated lead levels and may pose a lead poisoning risk.” 
For centuries, bentonite clay has been used in many ways, such as improving digestion, aiding in weight loss, detoxifying the body, improving skin health, and more. Bentonite clay is an all-natural product with no serious side effects and may be an excellent option for those seeking to improve their health.
- D M Z Valenti 1, J Silva, W R Teodoro, A P Velosa (et al.). Effect of Topical Clay Application On The Synthesis Of Collagen In Skin: An Experimental Study. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2012 Mar;37(2):164-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2230.2011.04216.x. [PMID: 22340693].https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22340693/
- J-S Wang 1, H Luo, M Billam, Z Wang, (et al.). Short-Term Safety Evaluation Of Processed Calcium Montmorillonite Clay (Novasil) In Humans. Food Addit Contam. 2005 Mar;22(3):270-9. [PMID: 16019795] doi: 10.1080/02652030500111129. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16019795/
- Pengfei Xu,1 Shu Dai,1 Jing Wang, (et al.). Preventive Obesity Agent Montmorillonite Adsorbs Dietary Lipids And Enhances Lipid Excretion From The Digestive Tract. Sci Rep. 2016; 6: 19659. Published online 2016 Feb 19. doi: 10.1038/srep19659. [PMCID: PMC4759552] PMID: 26891902. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4759552/
- Yan Cai 1, Xin-fang Meng, Yong-xiao Cao, (et al.). Montmorillonite Ameliorates Hyperthyroidism Of Rats And Mice Attributed To Its Adsorptive Effect. Eur J Pharmacol. 2006 Dec 3;551(1-3):156-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2006.08.053. Epub 2006 Sep 7. [PMID: 17027745]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17027745
- FDA Warns Consumers Not to Use “Best Bentonite Clay.” https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-warns-consumers-not-use-best-bentonite-clay
Medical Disclaimer: This article is based upon the opinions of Dr. Daniel Pompa. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Pompa and his associates. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD for accuracy of the information provided, but Dr. Pompa encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.