Zeolite is the name of related volcanic minerals consisting of hydrated aluminum and silicon. Found in natural soils, these minerals can also be made synthetically, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Whether zeolite is truly safe for human consumption has not yet been determined, although it is sold as a dietary supplement.
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Zeolite products are used commercially as water and air purifiers, adsorbent material, detergents and animal feed additives. The texture of zeolite is fine and porous. It is available in forms including powder, liquid and capsules. As noted by Cancer Research UK, manufacturers claim that the preparation is safe to take and can be used to boost your immune system, remove toxins and treat cancer. However, no human or animal studies support what they say.
Zeolite is not digestible when you take it orally. Animal studies have shown that it is poorly absorbed in the digestive tract. Whether oral zeolite supplements cause systemic effects in humans is not known. However, when inhaled, the powder can cause mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs. The particles can also produce abnormal changes in some white blood cells. Zeolite may interact with medications such as aspirin, tetracycline, phenobarbital and some chemotherapy drugs.
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Because zeolite is alkaline, it can buffer acidity and may therefore raise the pH of the intestinal tract. The resulting increase in alkalinity may interfere with the action of some drugs. Although it has yet to be proven in humans, zeolite is thought to adsorb various substances in the stomach and intestines, such as alcohol, glucose, microbes and compounds called nitrosamines, some of which have been associated with cancer.
Other than the potential dangers of inhaling zeolite dust, other possible hazards associated have to do with skin and respiratory irritation upon contact with the dust. It may also have an abrasive effect on the eyes, according to its Material Safety Data Sheet. If you wish to take zeolite as a supplement, consult your doctor. You should not substitute an unsubstantiated alternative therapy, such as taking zeolite, for traditional treatments for cancer or any other health condition.