Bentonite is a type of absorbent clay that is usually refined from volcanic ash. Its high absorbency makes it a useful substance in industrial applications, in products like kitty litter and even in natural medicine. While you may be able to purchase bentonite as wet clay or as a gel-like substance, its most common, affordable and versatile form is powder. Bentonite powder is available without a prescription wherever natural supplements are sold, though a consultation with a physician is recommended before beginning any bentonite regimen, especially for people with iron intolerance, high blood pressure and life-sustaining prescriptions.
In the world of alternative medicine, bentonite powder is most commonly marketed for the purposes of intestinal detoxification and cleansing. Because it is such an absorbent substance, it is believed that bentonite powder can attract and absorb toxins and impurities that may otherwise languish in the intestines for years. These toxins are then expelled normally as waste, and successful results may include relief from stomach discomfort, improved mood, increased energy and healthier skin, hair and eyes. Instructions for intestinal cleanses will vary, and while some may call for the use of bentonite powder alone, others will require additional substances like psyllium seed husks, which are also highly absorbent and mildly abrasive in the intestines. Bentonite powder is usually taken by being completely dissolved in water and then consumed, and such intestinal cleanse processes usually last two weeks or less. Daily intake of more than 1 teaspoon of bentonite powder is not recommended for long-term bentonite regimens.
A commonly purported benefit of the bentonite powder intestinal cleanse is improved intestinal regularity, and success with bentonite powder has been reported as a treatment for both constipation and diarrhea. For these reasons, bentonite powder is also sometimes marketed specifically as a regularity aid. By helping to purge the intestines of toxins and accumulated impurities, bentonite powder dissolved in water promotes a natural bacterial balance, which can relieve constipation. Bentonite also can bind stools quickly, making it a fast-acting diarrhea reliever. As a diarrhea treatment, bentonite powder can be dissolved in water or stirred into a serving of applesauce, which is another natural treatment for runny stool.
External Packs and Compresses
Bentonite powder can also be hydrated and turned into a wet clay that can be used in a variety of external applications. Even hydrated bentonite is powerfully absorbent, which makes it an excellent alternative treatment for eczema, acne, oily skin and other skin conditions in which gentle drying can be helpful. It can be used as a therapeutic clay mask on the face or as a compress on other parts of the body that are affected with eczema patches or rashes. Bentonite clay packs also can be placed over the eyes to relieve eye strain, on the neck and forehead to ease chronic headaches and around injured muscles or organs to soothe internal injuries. To hydrate bentonite powder, combine a 1-4 ratio of powder to distilled water in an appropriately sized container. Add the powder first, then gently pour the water over the top and allow the container to sit undisturbed for at least 48 hours. Depending on the amounts used, full hydration may take up to five days. The clay can be turned over gently midway through the hydration process if need be for even absorption, but excessive stirring and turning can make the clay clumpy.
- "The Clay Cure: Natural Healing from the Earth"; Ran Knishinsky; 1998
- "The Healing Power of Clay: The Natural Remedy for Dozens of Common Ailments"; Michel Abehsera; 2001
- Eytons' Earth: General Uses of Healing Clays
- Eytons' Earth: Using Bentonite, Illite & Montmorillonite Healing Clays Internally
- Healing Daily: Bentonite Clay for Internal Healing