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Bentonite: Public Research Project

An Educational Compilation of Related Commentaries and Articles: 1995 & 2006

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Sodium Bentonite & Montmorillonite: Hydrated Clay For Internal Use

The Value of Bentonite for Diarrhea*

Fredic Damrau, M.D.
New York City

In a group of 35 cases of acute diarrhea of diverse etiology, the use of a special preparation of bentonite** provided substantial relief in 34 cases ( 97 percent ). The causative factors included virus infections, food allergy, spastic colitis, mucous colitis, and food poisoning.

Nature of Bentonite

Bentonite is a native, colloidal, hydrated aluminum silicate. It occurs as a very fine, odorless, pale buff or cream-colored powder, free from grit, and has a slightly earthy taste. Although it is insoluble in water, it swells to approximately 12 times its volume when added to water. Bentonite magma is prepared by adding 50 gm. of bentonite to a sufficient quantity of purified water to make 1 liter.1

Geologically, bentonite is a rock composed of clay minerals formed by the alteration of minute glass particles that once composed volcanic ash. The name was derived from the Fort Benton series of cretaceous rocks in Wyoming, where it was first found.2

Bentonite has been used extensively, in the form of a gel, as a bulk laxative and also as a base in many dermatological formulations.3 The desirable property of bentonite is its avid adsorption of other substances, both organic and inorganic.4

History of Medical Uses

Hydrated aluminum silicate was used for centuries in China for summer diarrheas and cholera.5 In 1712 Father Deutrecolle, a Jesuit missionary, described the clay works in China and mentioned that the clay was used in treating diarrhea.6

The use of hydrated aluminum silicate with other medications during the Balkan war of 1910 reduced the mortality from cholera among the soldiers from 60 to 3 percent, and it also proved valuable in the 1919 epidemic of cholera in China.7 In India, hydrated aluminum silicate was found useful in the treatment of acute bacterial food poisoning encountered in the British Army.8

Hydrated aluminum silicate has been used as an adsorptive in the symptomatic treatment of various forms of enteritis9 including ulcerative colitis.10

Gastrointestinal adsorbents including hydrated aluminum silicate are presently recommended in acute diarrhea and bacillary dysentery to adsorb the toxins which produce the diarrhea.11 Hydrated aluminum silicate has been used in the treatment of abnormal intestinal fermentation to adsorb gases, toxins and bacteria.12 In a fluid medium it carries down large numbers of bacteria and adsorbs the toxins of cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and apparently of the putrefactive and proteolytic bacteria.13

In vitro studies suggest that the beneficial action of hydrated aluminum silicate in cholera depends on the adsorption of the cholera toxins and inclusion of the bacteria. Later investigations indicate that bentonite adsorbs certain viruses including those of intestinal influenza, as suggested by my successful results in that disease. Bacteriologically, bentonite is used for purification of viruses.14, 15

The specific properties of bentonite have been shown to have an important bearing on its therapeutic uses. 16 A paste made from hydrated aluminum silicate is recommended by Russian radiologist to deactivate hands contaminated by radium salts.17 In Russia, bentonite has been used in the therapy of peptic ulcer.18

Since bentonite has such strong adsorptive powers, its consumption in excessive amounts over a considerable period of time could render vitamin A and other necessary nutrients unavailable by adsorbing them from the alimentary canal. Independent experiments purposely designed to determine how much this adsorption would adversely affect the growth and health of experimental animals indicated no ill effects when the intake of bentonite did not exceed 25 percent of the total diet.19

Present Study

The therapeutic efficacy of bentonite for acute diarrhea of diverse etiology was evaluated in a group of 35 cases. The causative factor was virus infection in 18 cases, food allergy in 8, spastic colitis in 4, mucous colitis in 3, and food poisoning in 2.

The symptoms were diarrhea in 35 cases ( watery stools in 29, soft stools in 6 ), abdominal cramps in 30, anorexia in 18, malaise in 15, headache in 14, nausea in 13, and weakness in 7.

The group included 25 females and 10 males. The average person was 51.8, with a range from 23 to 76 years. The average weight was 153.2 lbs., with a range from 92 to 260 lbs.

A complete physical and routine urinalysis were made in every case to eliminate concomitant diseases which might affect their course of the diarrhea. Where indicated, laboratory and X-ray examinations were performed as part of the diagnostic procedure. Every effort was made to obtain a homogeneous group of patients so as to eliminate variables from the study.

The standard treatment employees was 2 tablespoonfuls of bentonite in distilled water as a vehicle 3 times daily. In cases of food allergy the dosage was increased above 6 tablespoonfuls daily.

Therapeutic Results

Acute diarrhea was relieved by bentonite in 34 of the 35 cases ( 97 percent ) in an average period of 3.8 days, ranging from 1 to 4 days. Following treatment the number of bowel movements per diem was reduced from an average 4.0 ( range 2 to 6 ) to an average of 1.8 ( range 1 to 3 ).

In the 18 cases of diarrhea due to virus infection the therapeutic response was unusually prompt. Hence in this group the average duration of treatment was 2.2 days with a range of 1 to 3 days. In the 8 cases due to food allergy the diarrhea persisted longer and on many occasions returned if the same allergenic food was eaten again.

The concomitant symptoms were relieved in the following case percentages: Abdominal cramps in 24 of 30 cases ( 80 percent ), anorexia in 14 of the 18 cases ( 78 percent ), malaise in 12 of the 15 cases ( 80 percent ), nausea in 11 of the 13 cases ( 85 percent ), and weakness in all of the 7 cases ( 100 percent ).

No side-effects attributable to the medication were observed in any case. Routine chemical and microscopic examination of the urine was negative in all 35 cases.


A preparation of bentonite with distilled water s a vehicle was found to be safe and highly effective in the treatment of acute diarrhea. The diarrhea was relieved in an average of 3.8 days in the 34 out of 35 cases ( 97 percent ) of diverse etiology. The number of bowel movements per diem was reduced from an average of 4.0 to an average of 1.8. The concomitant symptoms were also effectively relieved in most cases, namely, abdominal cramps ( 80 percent ), anorexia ( 78 percent ), malaise ( 80 percent ), headache ( 71 percent ), nausea ( 85 percent ), and weakness ( 100 percent ).

Fastest results were observed in intestinal influenza, in which the diarrhea was controlled in an average of 2.2 days.

Bentonite is a native, colloidal, hydrated aluminum silicate. A survey of medical literature disclosed that hydrated aluminum silicate was used for centuries in China for summer diarrheas and cholera. Favorable results have been reported in cholera, bacillary dysentery, acute bacterial food poisonings, ulcerative colitis, and various form of enteritis.

It has been established in vitro and in vivo that hydrated aluminum silicate adsorbs toxins, bacteria and viruses. This property helps to explain its therapeutic usefulness in acute diarrhea of diverse etiology.

By virtue of its physical action bentonite serves as an adsorbent aid in detoxification of the intestinal canal.


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  Mercury Poisoning can occur due to numerous sources of contamination, including eating fish, industrial exposure, amalgam fillings, and vaccinations. View our page on mercury toxicity and potential alternative treatments for mercury poisoning and mercury toxicity.


Green healing clay, bentonite, Fuller's Earth, Montmorillonite

See Also:


General Uses of Healing Clay
Introduction to Healing Clays of the World


Eytons' Earth - Clay Chemistry



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