So you’ve had another gut-wrenching GMO-free meal at Chi-coli (aka Chipotle) and you’re in need of a quick detox? Is that what’s bothering you Bunky? Well set your mind at ease. According to chiropractor and “natural medicine doctor” Josh Axe, all you need to do is eat some dirt. But not just any dirt. No, what’s needed here is bentonite clay, a miracle soil that will cleanse and heal the body (get your credit cards ready).1
“Bentonite clay benefits your body by helping to expel many of these toxins [mercury, cadmium, lead, and benzene] and therefore increases immunity and reduces inflammation” 1 — Josh Axe
Golly gee! I want to know more!
“On top of being able to draw-out toxins from the body, the clay itself has a range of nutrients” 1 — Josh Axe
Wait. Hold on. Does the clay draw elements out of the body, or put them in?
“When ingested into the body, either in a drink form or by eating the clay, its vitamins and minerals are absorbed similarly to how a supplement would be. Therefore some people use it as a supplement since the clay is a natural source of important dietary nutrients.” 1 –Axe, again
Clay is a source of “important dietary nutrients”, so it puts them into the body? OK, I’ll bite (no pun intended). For the sake of argument, let’s take this claim and run with it. What are the nutritional benefits of bentonite clay, Dr. Axe?1
¡Madre de Dios! Let’s look at some of the “nutritional elements” I’ve highlighted in the above graphic from draxe.com, and see what the man himself has to say about them:
“Mercury exposure, both in one large dose and through low level exposure over time, is linked through scientific data to kidney, brain, urological, fertility, neurological, and renal problems” 2 (emphasis mine)
Low level exposure to mercury over time is linked to some very nasty problems by Axe. But you’ll find it in the clay he wants you to eat. The story is even worse with lead:
“No level of lead exposure appears to be ‘safe’ and even the current ‘low’ levels of exposure in children are associated with neurodevelopmental deficits.” 3 (emphasis mine)
Axe’s lead quote comes from an article he penned on “toxic” chemicals found in lipstick. According to him, there’s no safe level of this poisonous element, but you’ll find 1.17mg of lead in each heaping helping tablespoon of his recommended clay.1
Not content with both feet in his mouth, Axe figuratively inserts other remaining body parts as well: in his bentonite clay, you’ll find each and every element I emphasize in his following quote:
“The European Union has banned the presence of cadmium, chromium and lead altogether in cosmetics. The Canadian government has set limits for the content of antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury and lead in cosmetics. They’re still trying to determine what levels are avoidable in the manufacturing process.” 3
Why limit the levels of these elements, Dr. Axe?
“While the FDA does limit lead in certain color additives used in cosmetics, it doesn’t set limits on lead in final products. This is troubling because heavy metals accumulate in the body over time. Low amounts can add up to big effects.” 3
But… but… all of these “heavy metals”, according to you, Dr. Axe, are found in the clay you’re pushing. But do go on… what kind of “big effects” can consumers of your super soil expect to experience as the toxins accumulate in their bodies over time?
Pot. Kettle. Black.
Of course, you could still buy into Axe’s contradictory argument that bentonite clay hunts down and removes these metals from the body. The problem is, he can’t explain how the good metals are dropped off at the physiological bus stop while the bad ones are picked up by the heavy metal police and carted off to jail without ever passing go. He makes a hilarious attempt, referencing “positively charged electrons” (that’s antimatter!), but in the end it boils down to magic. So that I’m not accused of quote mining, I invite you to read his entire article.
Speaking of buying: Bien sûr, after Axe sings the praises of bentonite clay, he just so happens to have a particular brand he recommends…
Not only does Axe recommend bentonite, he earns money when you buy it. In the above image, I’ve highlighted the hidden, encoded Amazon.com affiliate link. When you’re redirected to Amazon to snag this product, not only does Josh Axe get a cut of the purchase price, he’s also set up to earn commissions on anything else you happen to buy during your shopping session.4,5 Amazon pays out because they’re grateful to Axe for directing you to their web site. The problem is, legally, the good doctor is supposed to clearly disclose his affiliation when he sends you off to buy–but he never does.
I’ve covered a lot of ground (another dirt pun; sorry) in this piece, and for good reason: there are few things worse, in my humble opinion, than a person hiding behind the title of “doctor” using bad science and fear mongering to sell you products that contain the very same ingredients they’re telling you will harm you. Here’s a brief recap and, as always, thanks for reading:
- Axe simultaneously claims bentonite clay both sweeps elements out of your system and puts them in. Which is it?
- No scientific explanation is given for the above contradiction. Axe ascribes near-magical abilities to bentonite, allowing it to hunt down toxins with “positively charged electrons” (antimatter? WTF?) after coming into contact with water. Harry Potter would be proud.
- The so-called doctor’s mastery of chemistry is so poor he can’t differentiate between elements and minerals.
- The “no safe level of chemical to ingest” mantra could not be more clear in Axe’s writing, yet he proudly lists the levels of each proclaimed toxic chemical in bentonite clay. Does he ever read his own words and labels?
Josh Axe, Redmond Clay, and Amazon.com website screen snapshots are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.
Snippet of the periodic table of the elements taken from ptable.com and also used under Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”) with the intent of providing education. Happy faces poorly drawn by the author.
(1) 10 Proven Bentonite Clay Benefits And Uses
(2) Dangers of Amalgam Fillings
(3) Is Your Lipstick Toxic?
(4) Amazon.com Affiliate Program Description
(5) Amazon.com Affiliate Compensation Schedule