CLAY

OTHER NAME(S):

Arcilla, Argile, Beidellitic Montmorillonite, Calcium Aluminosilicate Clay, Calcium Montmorillonite, Dioctahedral Smectite, Diosmectite, Hydrated Sodium Calcium Aluminosilicate Clay, Medicinal Clay, Montmorillonite de Calcium, Montmorillonite Beidellitique, Smectite, Smectite Dioctaédrique.

Overview

Overview Information

Clay is a type of fine-grained rock or soil. Some types of clay are used to make medicine.

People take clay for diarrhea, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, and other stomach disorders. It is also used for poisonings and to prevent liver cancer.

Clay is applied in the mouth for sores caused by cancer drugs.

How does it work?

Clay might bind to certain metals and prevent them from being absorbed by the stomach and intestines. This might help treat or prevent poisoning due to toxic metals such as mercury. Clay might also protect cells in the intestines by covering them.

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • Diarrhea caused by rotavirus. Taking clay by mouth seems to reduce the duration of acute diarrhea by about 1 day in infants and children. It might also increase the number of children cured by day 3. In most studies, acute diarrhea was caused by rotavirus.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Diarrhea caused by cancer drug treatment. Taking clay by mouth doesn't seem to improve symptoms in people with diarrhea caused by cancer drug treatment. But the results from this study are unreliable due to the low rate of severe diarrhea the occurred during the study. The low rate of severe diarrhea may have caused to study to be too small to determine differences between the treatment and control group.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some early research suggests that taking a type of clay by mouth for 8 weeks improves pain, discomfort, and bloating in people with IBS who have diarrhea. Other research suggests that taking another form of clay improves pain and discomfort in people with IBS in which the major symptom is constipation but not diarrhea. However, some research suggests that clay is less effective than a product containing karaya gum at improving pain and intestine function in people with IBS.
  • Inflammation (swelling) and sores inside the mouth (oral mucositis). Applying a cream containing clay and a form of iodine to sores inside the mouth seems to help sores heal faster. It's unclear if this benefit is due to clay, iodine, or the combination.
  • Nausea.
  • Poisoning.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of clay for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

Some types of clay are POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for a short period of time or when used in a cream in the mouth. Calcium montmorillonite and calcium aluminosilicate seem to be safe when taken by mouth in doses up to 3 grams daily for 3 months or 4 grams daily for 6 weeks. A clay called dioctahedral smectite 12 grams daily has been used safely in the mouth as a cream for 5 days.

But clay is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth for a long period of time. Eating clay long-term can cause low levels of potassium and iron. It might also cause lead poisoning, muscle weakness, intestinal blockage, skin sores, or breathing problems.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Clay is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for pregnant women when taken by mouth for a long time. Taking clay by mouth while pregnant might increase the risk of high blood pressure or swelling. Not enough is known about the short-term use of clay during pregnancy.

Not enough is known about the use of clay during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Clay is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth, short-term. A type of clay called calcium montmorillonite seems to be safe for children ages 3-9 years when taken in doses up to 1.5 grams daily for 2 weeks. Another type of clay called dioctahedral smectite seems to be safe when taken for up to 6 days in doses of 6 grams daily by infants up to 12 months old and 12 grams daily by children 12 months and older.

Anemia: Clay might interfere with iron absorption and worsen this condition.

Low potassium levels (hypokalemia): Clay might lower potassium levels and make this condition worse.

Interactions

Interactions?

We currently have no information for CLAY Interactions.

Dosing

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

CHILDREN

BY MOUTH:

  • For diarrhea caused by a rotavirus: Clay has been given to infants and children daily for up to 6 days or until recovery. The most common doses used are 1.5 grams for infants up to 12 months old and 3 grams for infants 12 months and older. Doses are given up to four times daily.

View References

REFERENCES:

  • Afriyie-Gyawu E, Ankrah NA, Huebner HJ, et al. NovaSil clay intervention in Ghanaians at high risk for aflatoxicosis. I. Study design and clinical outcomes. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess 2008;25(1):76-87. View abstract.
  • Andrews PL, Horn CC. Signals for nausea and emesis: Implications for models of upper gastrointestinal diseases. Auton Neurosci 2006;125(1-2):100-15. View abstract.
  • Bateson EM, Lebroy T. Clay eating by Aboriginals of the Northern Territory. Med J Aust 1978;1 Suppl 1:1-3. View abstract.
  • Bennett A, Stryjewski G. Severe hypokalemia caused by oral and rectal administration of bentonite in a pediatric patient. Pediatr Emerg Care 2006;22(7):500-2. View abstract.
  • Blum M, Orton C, Rose L. The effect of starch ingestion on excessive iron association, abstracted. Ann Intern Med 1968;68:1165.
  • Booth EM. A case of tetanus of intestinal origin. Irish J Med Sci 1934;6:670-4.
  • Carpenter WM. Observations on Cachexia Africana, on habits and effects of dirt eating in negro race. New Orleans Med Surg J 1844;1:146-68.
  • Chang FY, Lu CL, Chen CY, Luo JC. Efficacy of dioctahedral smectite in treating patients of diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2007;22(12):2266-72. View abstract.
  • Corbett RW, Ryan C, Weinrich SP. Pica in pregnancy: does it affect pregnancy outcomes? MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs 2003;28(3):183-9. View abstract.
  • Delaitre B, Lemaigre G, Acar JF, et al. [Necrotizing enteritis and geophagia]. Nouv Presse Med 1976;5(28):1743-6. View abstract.
  • Dominy NJ, Davoust E, Minekus M. Adaptive function of soil consumption: an in vitro study modeling the human stomach and small intestine. J Exp Biol 2004;207(Pt 2):319-24. View abstract.
  • Ducrotte P, Dapoigny M, Bonaz B, Siproudhis L. Symptomatic efficacy of beidellitic montmorillonite in irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized, controlled trial. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2005;21(4):435-44. View abstract.
  • Edwards CE, McDonald S, Mitchell JK, et al. Effect of clay and cornstarch intake on women and their infants. J Amer Diet Assoc 1964;44:109-15. View abstract.
  • Edwards CH, McDonald S, Mitchell JR, et al. Clay- and cornstarch-eating women. J Amer Diet Asoc 1959;35:810-5. View abstract.
  • FDA sampling results in recall of candy: FDA lab analysis discloses lead in candy as high as 4.60 ppm. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/EnforcementStory/EnforcementStoryArchive/ucm107280.htm. Accessed November 22, 2014.
  • Franzblau A, Hedgeman E, Chen Q, et al. Case report: human exposure to dioxins from clay. Environ Health Perspect 2008;116(2):238-42. View abstract.
  • Frate DA. Last of the earth eaters. The Sciences 1984;24(6):34-38.
  • Fredj G, Farinotti R, Salvadori C, et al. [Topical digestive drugs with a clay base. Influence on the absorption of cimetidine]. Therapie 1986;41(1):23-5. View abstract.
  • Gonzalez JJ, Owens W, Ungaro PC, et al. Clay ingestion: a rare cause of hypokalemia. Ann Intern Med 1982;97(1):65-6. View abstract.
  • Guggenheim S, Martin RT. Definition of clay and clay mineral; joint report of the AIPEA nomenclature and CMS nomenclature committees. Clays Clay Minerals 1995;43(2):255-256.
  • Guinee VF. Pica and lead poisoning. Nutr Rev 1971;29(12):267-9. View abstract.
  • Gutelius MF, Millican FK, Layman EM, et al. Nutritional studies of children with pica. I Controlled study evaluating nutritional status. Pediatrics 1962;29:1012-23. View abstract.
  • Halsted JA. Geophagia in man: its nature and nutritional effects. Am J Clin Nutr 1968;21(12):1384-93. View abstract.
  • Hayward DG, Nortrup D, Gardner A, Clower M Jr. Elevated TCDD in chicken eggs and farm-raised catfish fed a diet with ball clay from a Southern United States mine. Environ Res 1999;81(3):248-56. View abstract.
  • Hunter JM, DeKleine R. Geophagy in Central America. Geogr Rev 1984;74(2):157-69. View abstract.
  • Love RG, Waclawski ER, Maclaren WM, et al. Risks of respiratory disease in the heavy clay industry. Occup Environ Med 1999;56(2):124-33. View abstract.
  • Mengel CE, Carter WA, Horton ES. Geophagia with iron deficiency and hypokalemia. Cachexia Africana. Arch Intern Med 1964;114:470-4. View abstract.
  • Minnich V, Okcuoglu A, Tarcon Y, et al. Pica in Turkey. II. Effect of clay upon iron absorption. Am J Clin Nutr 1968;21(1):78-86. View abstract.
  • Morri RJ, Williams DE, Luu HA, et al. The adsorption of microcystin-LR by natural clay particles. Toxicon 2000;38(2):303-8. View abstract.
  • O'Rourke DE, Quinn JG, Nicholson JO, Gibson HH. Geophagia during pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 1967;29(4):581-4. View abstract.
  • Pariente EA, De La Garoullaye G. A multicenter comparative study of a mucilage (Karaya gum + PVPP) versus clay in functional intestinal disorders. Med Chir Dig 1994;23(3):193-9.
  • Phillips TD, Afriyie-Gyawu E, Williams J, et al. Reducing human exposure to aflatoxin through the use of clay: a review. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess 2008;25(2):134-45. View abstract.
  • Phillips TD, Sarr AB, Grant PG. Selective chemisorption and detoxification of aflatoxins by phyllosilicate clay. Nat Toxins 1995;3(4):204-13. View abstract.
  • Phillips TD. Dietary clay in the chemoprevention of aflatoxin-induced disease. Toxicol Sci 1999;52(2 Suppl):118-26. View abstract.
  • Prasad AS, Halsted JA, Nadimi M. Syndrome of iron deficiency anemia, hepatospelenomegaly, hypogonadism, dwarfism and geophagia. Am J Med 1961;31:532-46.
  • Reid RM. Cultural and medical perspectives on geophagia. Med Anthropol 1992;13(4):337-51. View abstract.
  • Sanchez A JE. Perforation of the colon due to clay ball. Arch Surg 1978;113(7):906. View abstract.
  • Schettler, T. Human exposure to phthalates via consumer products. Int J Androl 2006;29(1):134-9. View abstract.
  • Severance HW Jr, Holt T, Patrone NA, Chapman L. Profound muscle weakness and hypokalemia due to clay ingestion. South Med J 1988;81(2):272-4. View abstract.
  • Trivedi TH, Daga GL, Yeolekar ME. Geophagia leading to hypokalemic quadriparesis in a postpartum patient. J Assoc Physicians India 2005;53:205-7. View abstract.
  • Ukaonu C, Hill DA, Christensen F. Hypokalemic myopathy in pregnancy caused by clay ingestion. Obstet Gynecol 2003;102(5 Pt 2):1169-71. View abstract.
  • Wang JS, Luo H, Billam M, et al. Short-term safety evaluation of processed calcium montmorillonite clay (NovaSil) in humans. Food Addit Contam 2005;22(3):270-9. View abstract.
  • Woywodt A, Kiss A. Geophagia: the history of earth-eating. J R Soc Med 2002;95(3):143-6. View abstract.
  • Afriyie-Gyawu E, Ankrah NA, Huebner HJ, et al. NovaSil clay intervention in Ghanaians at high risk for aflatoxicosis. I. Study design and clinical outcomes. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess 2008;25(1):76-87. View abstract.
  • Andrews PL, Horn CC. Signals for nausea and emesis: Implications for models of upper gastrointestinal diseases. Auton Neurosci 2006;125(1-2):100-15. View abstract.
  • Bateson EM, Lebroy T. Clay eating by Aboriginals of the Northern Territory. Med J Aust 1978;1 Suppl 1:1-3. View abstract.
  • Bennett A, Stryjewski G. Severe hypokalemia caused by oral and rectal administration of bentonite in a pediatric patient. Pediatr Emerg Care 2006;22(7):500-2. View abstract.
  • Blum M, Orton C, Rose L. The effect of starch ingestion on excessive iron association, abstracted. Ann Intern Med 1968;68:1165.
  • Carpenter WM. Observations on Cachexia Africana, on habits and effects of dirt eating in negro race. New Orleans Med Surg J 1844;1:146-68.
  • Chang FY, Lu CL, Chen CY, Luo JC. Efficacy of dioctahedral smectite in treating patients of diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2007;22(12):2266-72. View abstract.
  • Corbett RW, Ryan C, Weinrich SP. Pica in pregnancy: does it affect pregnancy outcomes? MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs 2003;28(3):183-9. View abstract.
  • Delaitre B, Lemaigre G, Acar JF, et al. [Necrotizing enteritis and geophagia]. Nouv Presse Med 1976;5(28):1743-6. View abstract.
  • Dominy NJ, Davoust E, Minekus M. Adaptive function of soil consumption: an in vitro study modeling the human stomach and small intestine. J Exp Biol 2004;207(Pt 2):319-24. View abstract.
  • Ducrotte P, Dapoigny M, Bonaz B, Siproudhis L. Symptomatic efficacy of beidellitic montmorillonite in irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized, controlled trial. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2005;21(4):435-44. View abstract.
  • Edwards CE, McDonald S, Mitchell JK, et al. Effect of clay and cornstarch intake on women and their infants. J Amer Diet Assoc 1964;44:109-15. View abstract.
  • Edwards CH, McDonald S, Mitchell JR, et al. Clay- and cornstarch-eating women. J Amer Diet Asoc 1959;35:810-5. View abstract.
  • Frate DA. Last of the earth eaters. The Sciences 1984;24(6):34-38.
  • Fredj G, Farinotti R, Salvadori C, et al. [Topical digestive drugs with a clay base. Influence on the absorption of cimetidine]. Therapie 1986;41(1):23-5. View abstract.
  • Gao X, Miao R, Tao Y, Chen X, Wan C, Jia R. Effect of Montmorillonite powder on intestinal mucosal barrier in children with abdominal Henoch-Schonlein purpura: A randomized controlled study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018;97(39):e12577. View abstract.
  • Getahun H, Lambein F, Vanhoorne M, Van der Stuyft P. Neurolathyrism risk depends on type of grass pea preparation and on mixing with cereals and antioxidants. Trop Med Int Health 2005;10(2):169-78. View abstract.
  • Gonzalez JJ, Owens W, Ungaro PC, et al. Clay ingestion: a rare cause of hypokalemia. Ann Intern Med 1982;97(1):65-6. View abstract.
  • Guggenheim S, Martin RT. Definition of clay and clay mineral; joint report of the AIPEA nomenclature and CMS nomenclature committees. Clays Clay Minerals 1995;43(2):255-256.
  • Guinee VF. Pica and lead poisoning. Nutr Rev 1971;29(12):267-9. View abstract.
  • Gupta M, Sachdev A, Lehl SS, Singh K. Clay impaction causing acute dysphagia. BMJ Case Rep. 2013;2013. pii: bcr2013008929. View abstract.
  • Halsted JA. Geophagia in man: its nature and nutritional effects. Am J Clin Nutr 1968;21(12):1384-93. View abstract.
  • Hunter JM, DeKleine R. Geophagy in Central America. Geogr Rev 1984;74(2):157-69. View abstract.
  • Kee BK, Morris JS, Slack RS, et al. A phase II, randomized, double blind trial of calcium aluminosilicate clay versus placebo for the prevention of diarrhea in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer treated with irinotecan. Support Care Cancer. 2015;23(3):661-70. View abstract.
  • Lin JX, Fan ZY, Lin Q, et al. A comparison of dioctahedral smectite and iodine glycerin cream with topical mouth rinse in treatment of chemotherapy induced oral mucositis: a pilot study. Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2015;19(2):136-41. View abstract.
  • Mengel CE, Carter WA, Horton ES. Geophagia with iron deficiency and hypokalemia. Cachexia Africana. Arch Intern Med 1964;114:470-4. View abstract.
  • Minnich V, Okcuoglu A, Tarcon Y, et al. Pica in Turkey. II. Effect of clay upon iron absorption. Am J Clin Nutr 1968;21(1):78-86. View abstract.
  • Mitchell NJ, Kumi J, Aleser M, et al. Short-term safety and efficacy of calcium montmorillonite clay (UPSN) in children. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2014;91(4):777-85. View abstract.
  • Morri RJ, Williams DE, Luu HA, et al. The adsorption of microcystin-LR by natural clay particles. Toxicon 2000;38(2):303-8. View abstract.
  • O'Rourke DE, Quinn JG, Nicholson JO, Gibson HH. Geophagia during pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 1967;29(4):581-4. View abstract.
  • Pariente EA, De La Garoullaye G. A multicenter comparative study of a mucilage (Karaya gum + PVPP) versus clay in functional intestinal disorders. Med Chir Dig 1994;23(3):193-9.
  • Pérez-Gaxiola G, Cuello-García CA, Florez ID, Pérez-Pico VM. Smectite for acute infectious diarrhoea in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;4:CD011526. View abstract.
  • Phillips TD, Afriyie-Gyawu E, Williams J, et al. Reducing human exposure to aflatoxin through the use of clay: a review. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess 2008;25(2):134-45. View abstract.
  • Phillips TD, Sarr AB, Grant PG. Selective chemisorption and detoxification of aflatoxins by phyllosilicate clay. Nat Toxins 1995;3(4):204-13. View abstract.
  • Phillips TD. Dietary clay in the chemoprevention of aflatoxin-induced disease. Toxicol Sci 1999;52(2 Suppl):118-26. View abstract.
  • Pollock BH, Elmore S, Romoser A, et al. Intervention trial with calcium montmorillonite clay in a south Texas population exposed to aflatoxin. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2016;33(8):1346-54. View abstract.
  • Prasad AS, Halsted JA, Nadimi M. Syndrome of iron deficiency anemia, hepatospelenomegaly, hypogonadism, dwarfism and geophagia. Am J Med 1961;31:532-46.
  • Reid RM. Cultural and medical perspectives on geophagia. Med Anthropol 1992;13(4):337-51. View abstract.
  • Sanchez A JE. Perforation of the colon due to clay ball. Arch Surg 1978;113(7):906. View abstract.
  • Severance HW Jr, Holt T, Patrone NA, Chapman L. Profound muscle weakness and hypokalemia due to clay ingestion. South Med J 1988;81(2):272-4. View abstract.
  • Trivedi TH, Daga GL, Yeolekar ME. Geophagia leading to hypokalemic quadriparesis in a postpartum patient. J Assoc Physicians India 2005;53:205-7. View abstract.
  • Ukaonu C, Hill DA, Christensen F. Hypokalemic myopathy in pregnancy caused by clay ingestion. Obstet Gynecol 2003;102(5 Pt 2):1169-71. View abstract.
  • Wang JS, Luo H, Billam M, et al. Short-term safety evaluation of processed calcium montmorillonite clay (NovaSil) in humans. Food Addit Contam 2005;22(3):270-9. View abstract.
  • Woywodt A, Kiss A. Geophagia: the history of earth-eating. J R Soc Med 2002;95(3):143-6. View abstract.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.