Bentonite Clay for Gut Problems

A lot of websites make claims about the ability of bentonite (montmorillonite) and other clays to detox bad bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. from the gut.

For example, here is a statement I saw again and again, on literally dozens of sites:

According to the Canadian Journal of Microbiology, bentonite can absorb pathogenic viruses, the mold aflatoxin and pesticides and herbicides including Paraquat and Roundup.

Now here’s the thing: I know from my own experience, discussions I’ve had with MDs and NDs, and my own readers’ experiences that this statement is true. BUT I still like to see the data. Especially if you’re going to quote a scientific source.

However, the only reference I could find for this statement (quoted on numerous websites) was: Canadian Journal of Microbiology, 1985, 31: 50-53

Looks legit, right? Who would question a reference like that? Well….. after searching that publication, I believe the article all those websites are referring to is this one (it’s the only article in that issue that is even content-related):

Specificity of virus adsorption to clay minerals, Steven M. Lipson, G. Stotzky, Canadian Journal of Microbiology, 1985, 31(1): 50-53, 10.1139/m85-011

But guess what? This paper does NOT actually support that statement! I won’t bore you with the whole thing, but just this first sentence gives you an indication that this paper is not making the claims put forth in the statement quoted on so many websites:  “Competitive adsorption studies indicated that reovirus type 3 and coliphage T1 did not share common adsorption sites on kaolinite and montmorillonite”…

SO, then of course, I had to go and find the legitimate scientific research to prove that bentonite clay does indeed help the gut to detox by adsorbing disease-causing bacteria, viruses, mold, parasites, etc. and carrying them out of your body via your feces (poo).

Because, I used to carry a fantastic stool softening and bulking agent called MetaCleanse in my LTYG Shoppe that contained bentonite clay (along with psyllium and flaxseed – just a great combo) and I want my readers to know that I’m telling them the truth about it. Likewise, we also carry just straight bentonite clay – and I have used this myself in large amounts for a two-week cleanse and detox. Followed by lots of probiotics, of course! Since the manufacturer has stopped producing MetaCleanse, in its place you can use 1 tbsp. sprouted flax and chia powder along with 1/2 tsp. bentonite clay.

Intestinal Brooms

The point about bentonite and other clays used as an “intestinal broom” is that they don’t just carry out the bad bacteria. Clay cannot distinguish between species of microorganism – it just adsorbs it all and carries it out! So let’s also talk about that word “adsorb” – no it is not a spelling error and it has a different meaning to the word “absorb”.

The value of montmorillonite (the active ingredient in Bentonite) lies in its ability to adsorb (not absorb) many times its own weight and volume in a liquid medium. It has a predominantly negative charge that is capable of attracting many kinds of positively charged particles. Bentonite Clay’s structure assists it in attracting and soaking up toxins and contaminants on its exterior wall and then drawing them into the interior center of the clay where they are held and then excreted out in your stool.

It is this sponge-like quality of the Clay that makes it a good anti-diarrhea substance whilst detoxing your body! However, since montmorillonite draws both good and bad bacteria out of the intestines, if your bacterial flora is unhealthy, this is a good thing. But, if you’re supplementing with probiotics, trying to implant a healthy bacterial flora, then you certainly don’t want to be ingesting large amounts of a substance that’s going to pull all these good bacteria out of your gut as well!

Bentonite For Detox Or To Stop Diarrhea

Therefore, I would only use large amounts of pure Bentonite Clay in the short-term for detox or to stop diarrhea and then get yourself on the high dose probiotic supplementation that will address the root-cause of your diarrhea. For two weeks at a time, every so often, bentonite clay provides a good, but gentle detoxification – and then follow with oral probiotics and Jini’s Probiotic Retention Enema.

However, your best option for alleviating diarrhea or constipation may be to use the MetaCleanse blend since it contains a combination of psyllium, flaxseed and bentonite clay. But, since it only has a small amount of bentonite per serving, it is safe for ongoing use and of course you would not use it together with your probiotics anyway.

A rule of thumb if you are using ANY detox, or stool bulking agent, or ‘intestinal broom’ is to take it 2 hours away from your probiotics – since you want your probiotics to implant and stick to your intestinal wall, not be carried or detoxed out!

Bentonite Combination For Constipation

So here’s another important distinction: If you use bentonite clay on its own (in substantial amounts), it absorbs a lot of water and so can be used to stop diarrhea, or in people with normal bowel function, it can cause constipation.

BUT, when it’s used in smaller amounts and in combination with stool bulking/softening agents like ground flaxseed, psyllium or chia it relieves constipation, because it makes your stools soft and spongy; stimulating peristalsis and making them easier to pass. Hence, in both conditions, it helps avoid hemorrhoids.

So for pure detox, you may want to use the bentonite, on its own, for 2 weeks or less. But for ongoing or intermittent diarrhea or constipation, combining bentonite with sprouted flax and chia seed powder would be the better option. Use 1/2 tsp. bentonite to every 1 tbsp. of chia/flax. This will bulk up your stools and help absorb the excess water in diarrhea. If you suffer from constipation, it will keep your stools soft and spongy, stimulating peristalsis and making them easier to pass. Hence, in both conditions, it helps avoid hemorrhoids.

Bentonite Scientific Data

Anyway, now that you understand more about how bentonite works, let’s get into that hard, scientific proof I was talking about, it’s short, but sweet…

“Because of the ubiquitous and widespread occurrence of clays in soils and sediments, it is not surprising that clays were long used for the control of toxic materials albeit at a small scale or only locally. For example, ‘Lemnian earth’, known only by its location, was used medicinally in ancient Greece and Turkey to counter the effects of snake-bites and poisons, and to cure festering wounds (Robertson, 1986). Likewise, Sudanese villagers long the Nile long used a local clay – recently identified as bentonite – to purify the river’s turbid water. As a consequence, these people suffer fewer gastrointestinal disturbances than other communities nearby. Experiments showed that viruses (Lund and Nissen, 1986), parasites (Olsen, 1987) and many types of bacteria (Madsen and Schlundt, 1989) are removed from the water through addition of the clay, probably acting as both an adsorbent and a flocculant for the disease-bearing organisms.”(1)

So there you have it: viruses, parasites, bacteria, poisons – pretty great stuff eh? But wait, there’s more…

“Clay therapy is based on the ability of clays and clay minerals to adsorb and retain harmful and toxic substances. The beneficial effects of these materials to human health, notably in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, were recognized. Indeed the eating of clay (‘geophagy’) was practiced since antiquity in all parts of the world.
Examination of the diets of certain tribes in the high Andes of South America and central Africa, and those of Australian aborigines, showed that these people use clay to avoid getting stomach-ache, dysentery, and food infections.
Although recent research confirmed that clays and clay minerals possess general curative properties, it is the treatment of disorders that remains the focus of attention. By adsorbing ‘aggressors’ (infectious factors) of the gastrointestinal mucosa barrier, these materials can serve as both prophylactic and therapeutic agents.”(2)

In addition, clay can also be used externally (on the skin, in a bath, in a poultice, etc.) for a variety of therapeutic purposes, but that’s another blog post…!

p.s. I’d like to offer an invitation to all the clay websites currently quoting the wrong data, to please come here and copy/paste the correct stuff! And please feel free to double-check my sources… : )


1.  Chapter 11.1 Clays and Clay Minerals For Pollution Control, GJ Churchman, WP Gates, BKG Theng, G Yuan, Handbook of Clay Science, 2006 Elsevier, edited by F. Bergaya, B.K.G. Theng, G. Lagaly

2.  Chapter 11.6 Clays And Clay Minerals As Drugs, MT Droy-Lefaix, F. Tateo, Handbook of Clay Science, 2006 Elsevier, edited by F. Bergaya, B.K.G. Theng, G. Lagaly, page 743


Robertson, RHS, 1986, Fuller’s Earth: A History of Calcium Montmorillonite. Volturna Press, Hythe, Kent.

Lund, E. and B. Nissen (1986). “Low Technology Water Purification by Bentonite Clay Flocculation as Performed in Sudanese Villages: Virological Examinations.” Water Research 20:37-43.

Olsen, A. (1987). “Low Technology Water Purification by Bentonite Clay and Moringa Oleifera Seed Flocculation as Performed in Sudanese Villages: Effects on Schistosoma mansoni Cercariae.” Water Research 21(5):517-522.

Madsen, M. & Schlundt, J. ‘Low Technology Water Purification by Bentonite Clay Flocculation as performed in Sudanese Villages: Bacterial Examinations’ J. Water Research vol. 23 issue 7 July, 1989.


26 thoughts on “Bentonite Clay for Gut Problems

  1. Hello Jini,
    It’s very hard to get Natren probiotics in my country. Do you think it’s safe to do the Wild Oregano Oil Protocol with non-Natren probiotics?

  2. please show the report that shows probiotics are adsorbed by bentonite clay.
    “According to research done in the 1970′s, you would have to drink/eat an incredible amount of bentonite in order to cause a problem with the flora of the intestines ( over 20% of your total diet would need to be clay ). ”

    Start with a small amount of bentonite mixed in water, taken at least two to three hours apart from taking your probiotics.”

  3. STARED – probiotics are bacteria. And bacteria are adsorbed by bentonite. The research quoted above that shows this is:

    Madsen, M. & Schlundt, J. ‘Low Technology Water Purification by Bentonite Clay Flocculation as performed in Sudanese Villages: Bacterial Examinations’ J. Water Research vol. 23 issue 7 July, 1989.

    However, the research you referred to from the 70′s that talks about the AMOUNT of bentonite needed to disrupt gut flora is very interesting – can you post the paper or study that supports that claim?

    Bacteria can be gram positive or gram negative and much of the disease-causing bacteria are gram positive. This gives a good overview:

  4. Also, Bentonite Clay is used in a poultice for pulling the venom out after a spider bite. I found the information online after my 2 year old was bitten by a brown recluse spider (we found them on glue traps) and the spot was growing larger. The Dr basically said to watch it as they only treat bites if they become infected like with Staph. We’ve all seen the horror photos! I was not going to wait on that or on the “Brown Recluse Kit” to come in the mail. I used the liquid bentonite clay and colloidal silver, reapplied 4X a day, kept the dressing moist and covered with saran wrap and bandage. That big bit shrunk with every application and my son was healed :) And then we moved!

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  6. Question, can you take bentonite clay and collodial silver internally at the same time?

  7. Hi Kenneth,

    We do not have any information suggesting that using the two products together would have any adverse effects.

    Kind regards,
    Customer Care

  8. I looked up the study on the Sudanese treatment of water with clay and could only read a small section of it. From the little I read, they were saying that the clay reduced bad bacteria in the water. Nothing was said about it reducing good bacteria from the villagers’ digestive tracts. Is there some way you could post the full study or put a link up to it for us to read? I find it interesting that your post on the Sudanese use of clay said “Likewise, Sudanese villagers long the Nile long used a local clay – recently identified as bentonite – to purify the river’s turbid water. As a consequence, these people suffer fewer gastrointestinal disturbances than other communities nearby.” I would think the clay wasn’t negatively impacting the beneficial flora in the intestines of these villagers if they had fewer gastrointestinal disturbances.

  9. Hi Gail, as you see in the Footnote, the reference is from the book – which is copyrighted. And yes, you’re correct, filtering the water with clay had a beneficial effect, NOT a negative impact.

  10. Jini – I reread your article and realize I was misunderstanding the point you were making. I agree it isn’t a good idea to take a lot of clay all the time. I personally only take 1/2 to 1 tsp per day in a glass of water and I don’t even take what settles to the bottom. I’ve learned the hard way that with everything, less is more.

  11. Question: I’ve been drinking a tablespoon of Bentonite Clay every day, in 8 ounces of water, followed by another 8 ounces of water. Then drinking water throughout the day. I notice my feces went from brown to almost a clay colored look, grey in color. Is this normal?

  12. Hi Fred,

    It’s an expected outcome for the consistency of your stool to change when using bentonite clay but it’s also not uncommon to experience a change in the color as well. As Jini mentions, the clay acts like a broom in your GI tract so it’s possible that the color change has to do with a purge of toxins and gut flora. Jini doesn’t recommend using bentonite clay for more than two weeks at a time and you should definitely consider supplementing with probiotics (if you aren’t already) since the clay will also sweep out good gut flora.

    Kind regards,
    Customer Care

  13. I am interested in your comment with reference to clay adsorbs bacteria from your gut, good or bad. I looked at your referenced scientific report but could only find the abstract. It appeared the report was focused on purifying drinking water in a Sudanese village more than studying the health benefits of clay. I saw no place where it was inferred that clay adsorbed good bacteria. In fact the report only mentioned bad bacteria.

    It seems like common sense that if clay removes bacteria with no discrimination to good or bad that a person’s immune system would cave in after years of consuming clay. I have read hundreds of testimonials and never came across that kind of outcome. It makes much more sense as stared said above that clay’s negative charge attracts positive which would not include most probiotics.

  14. NORM – I hear you. It’s the same discussion as to whether wild oregano oil and olive leaf kill all bacteria, or just ‘bad’ species/strains. Bottom line is, until someone carries out the research, we don’t know! So I prefer to work around either scenario. For example, if you take your clay in the morning, then your probiotics 1.5 to 2 hours later, you should be fine either way.

  15. It’s always somethin to quote Gilda? I take olive leaf too. Anyway I’m going to try your recommendation on healthy trinity. I’ve tried 3 different brands over the years that didn’t do much, at least nothing more than my homemade sauerkraut doesn’t already do.

    I’ll give the trinity 3 month trial.

  16. Since Metacleanse is no longer available, I have ordered the clay from your website and also the sprouted flax/chia powder from your link. For my son who has Crohn’s, who alternates between constipation and diarrhea, should I mix the two products together in water, or can he use the powder separately sprinkled on food, and take the clay in water? Should they be at the same time?


  17. Hi Annette,

    You can do either one, whatever works for you. The efficacy of the two products shouldn’t be affected if taken separately.

    Kind regards,
    Customer Care

  18. I’m pretty confused about what’s being said here. In your candida protocol, you suggest using the clay and psyllium husk purge daily every time the anti-fungals are taken. In this blogpost I’m seeing you say not to take the bentonite for more than two weeks at a time.

    I’m confused – why would I want to take it long-term for candida if it’s not good to take it long term for IBS?

  19. Hi Ann,

    Sorry for the confusion! Not everyone who has IBD or IBS has an issue with candida overgrowth so the recommendation to use the bentonite + psyllium would be for 2 weeks on and 1-2 weeks off depending on the severity of your overgrowth and how your body is handling things. If you have any additional questions please let me know!

    Kind regards,
    Customer Care

  20. So, just to be clear, bentonite and psyllium should only be taken for two weeks on and then two weeks off no matter what I’m using it for? It didn’t mention that in Jini’s candida protocol, hence my confusion.

    For candida, would I then continue with the oregano oil without the bentonite and psyllium? If so, what is Jini’s recommendation with regard to using something like charcoal for the die off?

  21. I keep finding alternative health websites that claim that Gram-negative and Gram-positive are indicators of the ionic charge of a bacterium. They have nothing to do with charge, and thus nothing to do with the attraction or repulsion by negatively-charged clay particles. Gram-positive and Gram-negative refer only to the capacity of the bacterium to be dyed in the Gram staining protocol, because of differences in their cell wall structures. I wish this were cleared up. Although many pathogens are Gram-negative, there are also Gram-positive pathogens, such as Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and Clostridium. Everyone seems to have this confused and backwards….

  22. Hi Jessica,

    That’s a very good point, Jessica, especially when talking about these so called “intestinal brooms” like bentonite clay. The clay will attract positively charged particles as it makes its way through the GI tract but it probably won’t attract much bacteria which are negatively charged, regardless of whether they are gram positive or negative.

    Kind regards,
    Customer Care

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