Edible earth – Why it’s not always great to pair with your smoothies…
Edible Earth – Bentonite Clay, Charcoal, and Diatomaceous Earth – The Edible Earth movement took the health industry by storm recently and made its way into “detox Smoothies and smoothie bowls”. I’m sure you have seen those black smoothie bowls topped with fresh vibrant fruit that just stands out incredibly! They are attractive to the consumer, but like most things, it begs the question of how good for us are these new trendy foods?
For centuries, deep ground base clays and charcoals have been used for the ailment of stomach upsets, poison removal, and anti-parasitic actions. Charcoal is not absorbed and instead binds and soaks up through its action of detoxification which is then passed out of the body, it’s extremely effective for the use of removing xenobiotics, as are Bentonite clay and Diatomaceous Earth.
Geophagy – Edible Earth Method
Geophagia/geophagy is the practice of eating earth or soil-like substrates such as clay or chalk. The tradition of consuming these substrates dates back to ancient times and is also often seen present in the habits of many animal species. From a physiological perspective, it is assumed that these substrates were methodically consumed.
Bentonite is a clay also known as ‘Montmorillonite clay’, it has been used and eaten from ancient times until now as a detoxifying and cleansing agent. It is a grey silky like substance when mixed with water and is often used in many face masks and ‘detoxifying’ beauty treatments. It can also be ingested as it acts like a pollutant and toxin binder. This action is through the mechanism of a property that bentonite has referred to as a ‘poly-cationic’ nature, which leads to the absorption of negative charge toxins. It has also been used in the past on other digestive concerns such as:
- Bloating and cramping. 
Charcoal is used in the approach of detoxification of xenobiotics and this is because it inhibits their absorption. Xenobiotics are substances that are man-made or not naturally occurring.  Charcoal is also touted for potential benefits on the following although more data needs to be collated:
- Skin impurities.
- Whitening of teeth.
- Abrasive aid.
- Water filtering.
Diatomaceous Earth is a form of soft, silica-rich sedimentary rock that was formed from the fossilized remains of single-celled algae or otherwise known as ‘diatoms’. You will hear it prescribed to many for the ailment of:
- Fungi Overgrowth.
- Pathogens and viruses.
- Heavy metal detoxification.
These are some of the claims we see across social media and literature, more research needs to be done on these specifics as we have not found much to pertain to these truths. It is considered not harmful for human ingestion but is something that should only be used under the guidance of a health care professional.
Two things to consider…
When looking into these, you can see that these materials are very porous in nature and also very binding… where are you sourcing them from? Make sure that you know their location of origin and purity. If they have these powerful properties in our gut and our pores in a beauty regime – it’s important to know how they are treated and sourced. Most labels will indicate if it is food grade quality.
Secondly, reconsider what you are partnering with these ingredients. If they have the ability to inhibit the absorption of many compounds. There is a chance that you aren’t getting all of the nutrients from that nutrient-dense smoothie bowl or shake you have just made if you are pairing these with your other ingredients. Consider taking them at different times to your meals to get the full benefits of these compounds, and to maximize those other nutritious ingredients you pop in your smoothies and foods.
In closing – More research is required on the widespread claims we see in the marketing of these ingredients, they do appear to be relatively harmless, but before you go crazy do your research, ask your health care professional on the suitability on adding these into your regime.
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Evaluation of the medicinal use of clay minerals as antibacterial agents. Lynda B. Williams1 and Shelley E. Haydel2,3 Int Geol Rev. 2010 Jul 1; 52(7/8): 745–770 doi: 10.1080/00206811003679737
- Abrahams PW, Parsons JA. Geophagy in the tropics: a literature review. The Geographical Journal. 1996;162:63–72.
- Arcasoy A, Cavdar AO, Babacan E. Decreased iron and zinc absorption in Turkish children with iron deficiency and geophagia. Acta Haematologica.
- SCHOFIELD, R.. (2006). Effect of pH on Electric Charge Carried by Clay Particles. Journal of Soil Science. 1. 1 – 8. 10.1111/j.1365-2389.1950.tb00713.x.
Compliance for single and multiple dose regimens of superactivated charcoal: a prospective study of patients in a clinical trial. Fahim Mohamed,1 M Roshini Sooriyarachchi,2 Lalith Senarathna, Et Al. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2007; 45(2): 132–135. doi: 10.1080/15563650600981145
Administration of Activated Charcoal. Jian-Da Lu, Jun Xue, in Critical Care Nephrology (Third Edition), 2019