Bentonite and other healing clays are simple, cost-effective ways to support the body in detox both topically and internally. I frequently recommend these as part of specific patient treatment plans and I also utilize them regularly myself. There are many different types of healing clays but I’ve chosen to focus on bentonite clay because it is the most common and quite easy to find. I use and recommend Aztec Secrets: Indian Healing Bentonite Clay.
Bentonite clay is composed mainly of montmorillonite clay (1), which belongs to a clay mineral subtype called smectite (2). This type of clay will swell when water is added and has both drawing and adsorptive qualities. It can be found in both liquid and powder forms. The liquid form is generally a suspension for internal use. Powders can be used internally or externally, but do make sure that the powder is labeled food grade if using internally.
Internal uses of bentonite clay include:
- Absorbing some heavy metals (3)
- Protecting the gut lining from mycotoxin damage (4)… or in other words, it can help prevent leaky gut
- Preventing poisoning and liver damage from aflatoxins (5, 6). Aflatoxins are commonly found in corn and peanuts and are a type of mold toxin that promotes liver cancer.
- Possibly modulating the gut microbiota by acting as a prebiotic (food for beneficial bacteria in the gut) and removing endotoxins from the gut thus decreasing metabolic issues and obesity (7). Endotoxins are also a major issue in autoimmune conditions.
- Treating diarrhea, including traveler’s diarrhea and food poisoning
- During treatment for gut dysbiosis, candida, parasites, or other gut infections to address or prevent “die-off” reactions
I most frequently recommend the internal use of bentonite as a binder for those with biotoxin illnesses (this includes mold toxicity), as a part of a seasonal cleanse, and during treatment for gut dysbiosis and infections.
Using Bentonite Clay Internally
To use powdered bentonite internally, mix ½ to 1 heaping tsp of clay with 8 oz of filtered water. It should be taken 45 minutes before or 2 hours after a meal, unless it is being used for a belly that has been immediately upset by food. I recommend chasing this with a second large glass of water. The clay absorbs a lot of water, so staying hydrated is important.
Unless specifically instructed, you should not take bentonite clay internally on a daily basis. I recommend using it for the above conditions, as part of a general cleanse, or on a week-on/week-off basis. It has been found to be safe for short-term use internally (8).
External uses of bentonite clay include:
- Cleaning and reducing pores
- Insect bites
- Contact dermatitis (9)
- Skin burns from radiation… this is miraculous for those following conventional treatment for breast cancer
- DIY deodorant
- As a base for a natural tooth powder
- Detox baths
Using Bentonite Clay Externally
For topical applications like the first 6 listed, mix bentonite clay with filtered water until a thick paste forms. I start with just a little water and add small amounts as I mix. Spread the clay over the affected area. Ideally, you apply at least a quarter-inch thick layer but, admittedly, I often use a thinner layer as a regular face mask. Apple cider vinegar can be used in combination with water for face masks and on insect burns. For applications to the face, leave on for 15-20 minutes. Applications elsewhere on the body can be left on up to an hour. A good detox bath recipe with instructions is at Wellness Mama.
What About You?
Do you use bentonite clay or something else regularly as a part of your detox routine? I would love to hear what you have to say in our comment section. Please inspire each other!
As a registered Naturopathic Doctor in the state of Colorado, I specialize in addressing the underlying issues related to thyroid, autoimmunity, digestion, chronic congestion, and adult acne. If you’re interested in working with me, schedule a free “Is this a good fit?” office or phone consult so that you can find out how I can help you.
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