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Is Zeolite Safe for Human Consumption?

author image Lexa W. Lee
Lexa W. Lee is a New Orleans-based writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has contributed to "Central Nervous System News" and the "Journal of Naturopathic Medicine," as well as several online publications. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Reed College, a naturopathic medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and served as a postdoctoral researcher in immunology.
Is Zeolite Safe for Human Consumption?
A raw rock of zeolite sits on a white background. Photo Credit: Stellar-Serbia/iStock/Getty Images

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 Effects

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.

How It Works

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.

Additional Information

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.

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