What if there was a “magic powder” that purifies the water, enriches the soil, and prevents nuclear disasters? What if that same powder could detox your body, boost your gut health, prevent free-radical damage, fight infections, and more? Well, zeolite does it all – without even entering your body. Read on to learn everything about zeolite, including its not-so-magical side.
What is Zeolite?
Zeolite is a complex mineral which forms in the contact of volcanic lava and water. This process can take thousands or even millions of years; scientists estimate that the first zeolite minerals formed over 300 million years ago.
“Zeolite” is a common name for over 240 unique structures (or frameworks), of which 40+ occur in nature. The most common types of zeolite include [R+]:
Ancient Romans used zeolite B.C. to build bridges. Then it fell into oblivion and found its way back in 1756 when Swedish mineralogist Axel Cronstedt first described and named it.
He merged two Greek words: zéō, meaning “boiling” and líthos, meaning “stone.” Zeolite released plenty of steam when heated and thus reminded Cronstedt of a “boiling stone.” [R]
Structure and Components
In a clash of scalding lava and cold seawater, zeolite forms a unique cage-like structure and negative surface charge. Aluminum and silicon make the basis of this structure, but it often includes other elements such as oxygen, tin, zinc, and titanium.
Tiny cages enable zeolite to act as a “molecular sieve,” filtering molecules based on their particle size. Negative surface charge loosely binds minerals – such as sodium, potassium, and calcium – and replaces them with large ions and heavy metals [R+, R+].
In other words, zeolite can pick up plenty of “bad stuff” and replace it with “good stuff.”
Fast forward from its re-discovery, miners are now producing around 3 million tons of zeolite each year. China leads the way, followed by South Korea, Japan, and Jordan. Natural zeolites are abundant but often contaminated with other minerals, quartz, metals, etc.
The industry mostly relies on synthetic zeolites, which are pure and have uniform structures. Some of them don’t exist in nature, such as Zeolite A.
- Farming: removes odors and helps manage wastewaters
- Agriculture: controls moisture and provides minerals
- Public health and ecology: purifies water and helps remove nuclear waste
- Household: in deodorizing agents, cleaning products, and personal care
- Chemistry: speeds up chemical reactions
Traditional medicine recognizes clay eating (geophagia) as a natural detox method. Zeolite has similar properties and traditional uses [R].
- Separation and detection of biomarkers
- Controlled drug delivery
- Imaging methods such as NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance)
- Skin and bone tissue engineering
- Wound treatment and bleeding control
Snapshot of Zeolite
- Helps you detox
- Supports gut health
- Blocks oxidative damage
- Stops bleeding
- May lower blood lipids and glucose
- May protect the brain and the liver
- Cleans and protects your skin
- May cause lung damage when inhaled
- May block the absorption of drugs and nutrients
- Not well studied in humans
- May be contaminated with heavy metals
How Does Zeolite ‘Detox’ the Body?
Zeolite can bind and remove a wide range of toxins from the human body, drinking water, and waste materials. Its tiny cages and surface charge trap heavy metals, natural and chemical poisons, radioactive elements, microbes, metabolic products, and more [R, R, R, R].
- Reverse oxidative damage
- Maintain a healthy microbiome
- Kill bacteria and viruses
- Boost the levels of minerals and trace elements
- Repair skin lesions and stop bleeding
For these reasons, it’s often used to detox heavy metals and other toxins from the body.
Zeolite does it all in your gut without being absorbed. That makes it safe for human use, with a few notable exceptions (see “Side Effects”).
Benefits of Zeolite
Note: Clinoptilolite is the most common type of zeolite for medical uses. All benefits refer to clinoptilolite unless stated otherwise.
1) Helps You Detox – Big Time!
In a clinical trial on 33 volunteers, zeolite enhanced the elimination of aluminum, arsenic, lead, mercury, and other heavy metals. People who took liquid zeolite (30 drops a day) had significantly higher levels of these metals in their urine samples. Lab analysis confirmed that zeolite wasn’t contaminated, attributing the results to heavy metal detox [R+].
In rats, clinoptilolite stimulated aluminum detox and stopped it from reaching the blood [R].
Cadmium is another heavy metal that can cause anemia and impair different organs. In cadmium-poisoned pigs, zeolite prevented anemia and protected the liver. However, it didn’t impact the cadmium concentration in the kidneys [R].
Brain Damage & Mood
The ability of zeolite to detox lead, mercury, aluminum, and other heavy metals makes it a promising supplement for the above-mentioned mood disorders. However, no studies have investigated the impact of zeolite on mood yet [R, R, R, R].
In 12 healthy drinkers, clinoptilolite (5 g) reduced blood levels of alcohol by up to 43%. It blocked alcohol absorption when combined with a drink [R].
In another clinical trial, 25 volunteers took zeolite (2.25 g – 4.5 g) the morning after a “night out.” It was too late for alcohol detox, but their hangover symptoms improved by 40 – 50% [R].
Aflatoxins may contaminate foods and wreak havoc on our bodies, especially in the liver [R].
Clinoptilolite was able to detox chickens from aflatoxin and protect their liver, bile duct, and kidneys. Immune system organs such as the thymus also suffered less damage [R].
Given to cows, zeolite lowered levels of aflatoxin in their milk, which is a major source of human poisoning. In test tubes, zeolite could remove aflatoxin from water (60%) and animal feed (80%) [R, R, R].
Zeolite porous structure is a perfect trap for large radioactive elements. In rats and sheep, clinoptilolite blocked the absorption of radioactive cesium and reduced its concentration in animals’ organs [R, R].
Clinoptilolite can bind radioactive atoms in nuclear waste and help solve this burning ecology issue [R].
Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), although toxic, are widely used to make furniture, clothes, and non-stick pans (Teflon). Doctors reported a single case of a successful PFCs detox with zeolite. However, the effect was weak and had no clinical value [R].
Nitrates are toxins that can contaminate drinking water and disturb the health of humans and animals. In cows, zeolite reversed the metabolic damage caused by nitrates [R].
2) Repairs the Gut
In a clinical trial on 52 endurance athletes, zeolite (1.85 g daily for 12 weeks) tightened the intestinal wall and prevented leaking. It also had a mild anti-inflammatory effect on the gut [R].
In mice with ulcerative colitis, a type of IBD, clinoptilolite was able to repair gut damage. It proved equally effective as a standard IBD drug (5-aminosalicylic acid). Tests verified that mice didn’t absorb zeolite particles into the bloodstream [R].
Zeolite showed similar action in a study on pigs with gut inflammation [R].
The buildup of urea, ammonia, and gases in the gut may lead to ulcerative colitis, IBS, and even colon cancer. High levels of urea in the blood (uremia) can be life-threatening. Zeolite binds both urea and ammonia, offering protection against these health risks [R, R, R, R, R].
3) Restores Gut Microbiome
The positive impact of zeolite on gut bacteria contributes to the above benefits but also helps relieve diarrhea and improves overall health.
Cuban doctors have developed a drug for diarrhea (Enterex) made of clinoptilolite. They proved its safety and efficacy in 4 clinical trials and additional cell experiments. The ability of clinoptilolite to restore healthy gut flora played a crucial role in this effect [R+].
When added to chicken feed, zeolite cut the number of harmful bacteria in their gut without disturbing the good bacteria. Chicken infected with Salmonella, a major cause of food poisonings, recovered faster and suffered less oxidative damage [R, R, R].
In cell studies, zeolite inhibited the growth of 2 viral strains (coxsackievirus and echovirus) that invade us through the gut but may harm the entire body [R].
4) Relieves Acid Reflux and Stomach Ulcers
In gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux damages the esophagus, causing heartburn and other unpleasant symptoms [R].
In a clinical trial on 25 people with GERD, clinoptilolite (1.5 g daily for 2 weeks) relieved heartburn, pain, and discomfort by 45 – 55%. The same protocol protected another 23 patients from stomach ulcers caused by a common NSAID, naproxen [R+].
5) Stops Bleeding
Uncontrolled bleeding is the 2nd cause of death in severe injuries and accidents. A mixture containing zeolite and clay (CoolClot) significantly decreased bleeding time in dogs with a life-threatening injury. In human blood samples, it enhanced clotting by 40% [R].
Clinoptilolite stopped uncontrolled bleeding in almost 70% of treated rats and increased their chance of survival by 60% [R].
6) Reduces Cholesterol and Blood Lipids
In a clinical trial on 41 patients, micronized (fine-ground) zeolite lowered blood levels of the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and blood lipids, while raising the “good” cholesterol (HDL). After 8 weeks (6 – 9 g daily), these values improved by 20 – 25% [R].
The lack of a control group in this study prevents us from drawing reliable conclusions.
7) Combats Oxidative Damage
- Boosted antioxidant enzymes (glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase-SOD)
- Increased total antioxidant capacity
- Protected the organs from injury
8) Improves Oral Hygiene
In 11 volunteers, a mouth rinse with silver-zeolite (zeolite packed with silver ions) greatly reduced dental plaque formation. In a cell study, silver-zeolite cut candida growth and acid production, two major causes of dental plaque and oral infections [R, R].
Additionally, zeolite can eliminate volatile odors and thus combat bad breath [R].
Benefits with Limited Evidence
Zeolite showed the following benefits in animal and cell studies only.
9) Liver Protection
The antioxidant power of zeolite may be crucial for liver protection.
In rats with partially removed liver, clinoptilolite provided antioxidant support by boosting glutathione and protective enzymes. As a result, blood markers of oxidative damage dropped [R].
As described above (see “Detox”), zeolite also protects against liver-damaging aflatoxins.
- Shrink tumors and prevent their growth
- Improve overall health and prolong the lifespan
- Boost the effects of chemotherapy
Both oral and skin treatment showed the above benefits.
Clinoptilolite cut the number of melanoma (skin cancer) metastases in mice and boosted their immune response [R].
The ability of zeolite to bind radioactive elements, fungal toxins, and other cancer-causing substances also makes it a promising candidate for future cancer prevention research.
In one study on diabetic rats, clinoptilolite reduced blood glucose levels to normal. In the other 2 studies, it prevented rapid weight loss and oxidative damage but failed to control glucose and insulin levels [R, R, R].
To sum it up, zeolite is likely safe and possibly beneficial in diabetes, but more research is needed.
12) Alzheimer’s Disease
In Alzheimer’s disease, free-radical damage and protein mutations kill brain cells, causing progressive memory loss. Zeolite protected mice from these changes by boosting antioxidant enzymes in the hippocampus, the brain’s center for memory and emotional balance [R+, R].
Benefits of Zeolite for the Skin
Due to its detox and antibacterial properties, zeolite can benefit the skin in different ways. Many wound-healing and personal care products have zeolite as their chief ingredient.
13) Wound Healing
In a Russian clinical trial, zeolite enhanced the cleaning and recovery of burn wounds and improved overall complaints. Important note: patients consumed zeolite and didn’t apply it on the wounds. This study doesn’t reveal essential details such as dosage and sample size [R].
Zeolite loaded with nitric oxide (NO) boosted wound healing in rats. It killed bacteria and fungi while protecting skin cells [R].
- P. aeruginosa, which can cause hospital-acquired infection
- E. coli, known for causing ulcers and infecting wounds
- S. aureus and MRSA, hard-to-treat strains of bacteria
- Candida albicans
14) Inflammation and Allergies
But that’s not all.
One cell study verified the ability of zeolite to bind histamine and thus relieve inflammation and allergic reactions [R].
Air pollutants may trigger inflammation, allergies, and autoimmune issues. Since zeolite can bind to toxins and heavy metals, it might reduce the detrimental impact of pollution on the skin too.
15) Personal care
In a clinical trial on 39 volunteers, deodorant spray with 10% silver-zeolite showed a strong and lasting (24 h) effect against armpit microbes, which produce unpleasant odors. A spray with a control substance failed to achieve this [R].
Zeolite forms a protective film on the skin, acting as a natural sunscreen. In one cell study, zeolite even reversed oxidative damage triggered by another sunscreen ingredient, titanium-dioxide [R].
These properties make zeolite a central ingredient in various personal care products, most of which are already on the market (see “Forms of Supplementation”).
Since zeolite binds heavy metals and other toxins, some people voiced concerns about potential poisoning from contaminated supplements. However, zeolite has a high affinity for those toxins and keeps them trapped under all conditions [R, R+, R].
No studies have confirmed the safety of zeolite in children, pregnant or breastfeeding women. These groups may want to avoid it just in case
Limitations and Caveats
A good deal of zeolite research lacks confirmation in humans. Clinical trials point to some crucial benefits of zeolite, but the evidence is limited to a small number of patients. Some of these trials come with other notable caveats, such as [R, R, R, R]:
- Lack of control
- Unknown study details
- Conflict of interest
We need more extensive, well-designed clinical studies to verify the medicinal uses of zeolite.
Food and Drug Interactions
Zeolite’s super-binding properties come with a price. Although it prefers heavy metals and environmental toxins, essential nutrients may also end up trapped inside its tiny cages.
Most other studies didn’t mention nutritional deficits.
Zeolite binds complex organic toxins but also drugs with similar structures. For example, it can remove antibiotics, which is great for water purification but dangerous if you’ve been prescribed antibiotics [R].
To stay on the safe side, make sure not to combine zeolite with any drugs or supplements. And, of course, always consult your doctor first if you take prescription medication.
Due to its ability to lower blood cholesterol and lipids, zeolite may enhance the effects of statins and other lipid-lowering drugs [R].
Forms of Supplementation & Dosage
- Source: check if the manufacturers source their zeolite from reputable, clean regions
- Handling: look for a purified product, tested for heavy metals and other contaminants
- Physical properties: activated and micronized (fine-ground) zeolite showed the best results
The most common form on the market is zeolite powder, containing 90 – 97% of clinoptilolite. Micronized products have a particle size <20 µm. Other available forms include:
- Pills with 700 – 800 mg of powder (mostly clinoptilolite)
- Liquid zeolite (suspension in water)
- Zeolite wound patches (usually loaded with silver)
Some websites claim that activated liquid zeolite is more potent and cleansed from toxins during the so-called liquid purification process. However, no evidence is available to back up these claims. What’s more, “activation” only implies mechanically reducing the size of zeolite particles.
Liquid zeolite is sometimes enriched with dihydroquercetin (DHQ), a potent antioxidant [R].
As mentioned, zeolite is also a common ingredient in personal care products, such as:
- Face masks
- Body scrubs
The following doses of zeolite proved effective in clinical trials:
- Relieving hangover symptoms: 2.25 g – 4.5 g, the morning after a ‘night out’ [R]
- Inhibiting alcohol absorption: 5 g with a drink [R]
- Strengthening the gut lining: 1.85 g daily for 3 months [R]
- Soothing GERD and stomach ulcers: 1.5 g daily for 2 weeks [R]
- Reducing cholesterol and blood lipids: 6 – 9 g daily for 2 months [R]
- Boosting antioxidant support: 5.5 – 6 g daily for 1 month [R, R]
Powdered clinoptilolite is the most popular supplement, followed by liquid forms. Many users have reported positive experiences with zeolite. They were able to stop diarrhea, relieve digestive issues, detox, improve general wellbeing, and save pets from poisoning.
Interestingly enough, many parents report symptom improvement in their children with developmental disorders. The mentioned role of heavy metals in brain damage and strong detox action of zeolite may explain this phenomenon.
On the other hand, some users complained about constipation, dehydration, stomach discomfort, and the lack of desired effects.
When it comes to cosmetics, users seem to love face masks and toothpaste with zeolite. Some complain about its drying and staining effects.
DIY Recipes With Zeolite
Mix 1 tbsp. of zeolite and just enough water to make a paste (around 2 tbsp.).
Apply to your face and leave 15+ mins (less for dry skin).
Rinse and proceed with your usual skin care.
For a daily cleanse, rinse the mask as soon as it dries.
Use your palm or a body brush to apply 1 – 2 tbsp. of zeolite on your skin before you take a shower.
Be careful around sensitive areas.
Optional ingredients: bentonite clay, sugar, coffee.
- 2 tbsp. zeolite powder
- A pinch of Himalayan salt and/or baking soda
- A pinch of cinnamon and dried herbs (cloves, sage, peppermint, etc.)
- 5-10 drops of essential oils of your choice
My Experience With Zeolite
Zeolite is one of my favorite “biohacks.” I use it to detox my body and relieve digestive issues. I never did a lab test for heavy metals or other toxins to measure its effects, though.
It may cause constipation if you don’t drink enough water. Wouldn’t suggest it to people with lazy bowels.
I’ve tried a lot of DIY products with zeolite and, while they all work great, tooth powder is my favorite. Be careful with deodorant creams and body lotions – they do stain the clothes.
Zeolite powder is featherweight and easy to blow away. However you use it, make sure not to inhale the particles.
“Zeolite” stands for hundreds of different volcanic minerals that form in the contact of molten lava and (sea)water. Thanks to their unique cage-like structures and negative surface charge, these minerals can bind a wide range of environmental toxins and metabolic products.
Clinoptilolite is the most common natural zeolite with proven health benefits. It can help you detox, boost your gut health, stop bleedings, and protect you against free-radical damage.
Zeolite may also protect the liver and brain; decrease blood lipids and glucose; help combat cancer. However, most of these health benefits lack stronger clinical evidence.
Zeolite is safe for human consumption but can damage the lungs if inhaled for a longer time. Children and pregnant women may want to avoid zeolite until we know more about its safety. Don’t combine zeolite with any drugs or supplements because it can prevent their absorption.
Antibacterial and detox properties of zeolite can benefit the skin, too. Products with this “magic powder” include wound dressings, deodorants, soaps, toothpaste, face masks, and more.