Zeolite is being promoted as a detox product to be taken orally. It is popularly in liquid form. Is it a scam or not?
Question: One of my very knowledgable clients asks: "Do you have any thoughts on zeolite and detox? I've read good and bad."
My answer: Until proven in real clinical practice, I suspect a new get-rich-quick MLM scheme with catchy, exotic buzzwords and a lot of hype 'piled higher and deeper.' Supposedly Gabriel Cousens, who has credentials as a doctor and advocates a very strict vegan diet as the only diet for all humans, did a 'clinical' study on a bunch of people at his health farm. But no scientific method, controls, placebos or other means in place to make it science-worthy.
'Zeolite' can refer to a number of different structures, but typically refers to a 'crystalline, porous aluminosilicate.'
Why would I want to put something containing an aluminum compound into my body?
Because there are so many combinations of elements, toxic and otherwise, in crystalline structures categorized as zeolites, products made from this material can contain anything! Unless you want to have it assayed at an independent laboratory, you don't know if such a detox product isn't just made of sanitized sand!
My jaundiced view of the new zeolite zeal is based on research into other such products. For example, Super Blue-Green Algae. From a pristine lake in the wilderness. However, a friend of ours actually went out to Lake Klamath and saw - motorboats having a field day on that very same lake. 'Oh, but we harvest it from the clean part of the lake..' Yah!
Here is a quote from Wikipedia:
'Naturally occurring zeolites are rarely pure and are contaminated to varying degrees by other minerals, metals, quartz, or other zeolites. For this reason, naturally occurring zeolites are excluded from many important commercial applications where uniformity and purity are essential.'
You may notice the statement above specifies that this category of crystalline formation is typically contaminated by metals - remember, that can include toxic metals like mercury, cadmium and lead!
Here are links to some fact-based articles - many sites you find about zeolite are sales pieces for (mostly) MLM companies with no science.
You will notice in these articles no mention of human health applications for zeolite.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091102171730.htm (new window)
http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~geoffrey-price/zeolite/zeo_narr.htm (new window)
http://www.colorado.edu/che/faculty/falconer/ZeoliteResearch.html (new window)
Yes, I use my own and others' testimonials, but the ingredients in the products I provide have solid clinical and scientific research behind them.
You might notice that zeolite is said to be an excellent water softener because it can pick up the 'hard' magnesium and calcium cations - i.e. take enough of it and you can reduce your body stores of magnesium, calcium and who knows what else?! Unlike Magnesium Di-Potassium EDTA, which chelates calcium out of the soft tissues, but tips the balance to stimulate the body to store that calcium where it belongs - in the bones and teeth.
Oh, yes, and zeolite's adsorbent capacity is also made excellent use of in - cat litter !
While it has been used in animal husbandry for some detoxification applications, I couldn't find evidence of use in human applications. I am open to being proven wrong, but very skeptical at this point.
Below is information from a technical site devoted to describing minerals.
Notice a few things...
Toward the beginning of the article, it states: 'The zeolites are framework silicates consisting of interlocking tetrahedrons of SiO4 and AlO4. In order to be a zeolite the ratio (Si +Al)/O must equal 1/2. The alumino-silicate structure is negatively charged and attracts the positive cations that reside within.'
'Al' is aluminum! Where is the proof that the aluminum compound can NEVER be absorbed by a human being who consumes zeolite orally?
ALSO: When you scroll down to the bottom, notice that...
Every kind of zeolite listed contains aluminum silicate as part of its structure!
http://www.galleries.com/minerals/Silicate/ZEOLITES.htm (new window)
Let's take this a step further:
Zeolite detox supplements are typically advertised as being in LIQUID form! One of two things could be true...
Either there IS no Zeolite in these formulas, OR the zeolite molecular structure has been broken down, possibly making the aluminum bioavailable to unsuspecting consumers!
Here are two quotes from the above article...
1 - '...zeolites have large vacant spaces or cages in their structures that allow space for large cations such as sodium, potassium, barium and calcium and even relatively large molecules and cation groups such as water, ammonia, carbonate ions and nitrate ions. In the more useful zeolites, the spaces are interconnected and form long wide channels of varying sizes depending on the mineral. These channels allow the easy movement of the resident ions and molecules into and out of the structure. Zeolites are characterized by their ability to lose and absorb water without damage to their crystal structures.'
2 - 'Zeolites have basically three different structural variations. There are chain-like structures whose minerals form acicular or needle-like prismatic crystals, ie natrolite.
Sheet-like structures where the crystals are flattened platy or tabular with usually good basal cleavages, ie heulandite.
And framework structures where the crystals are more equant in dimensions, ie Chabazite.'
Zeolite is, by definition a crystalline structure with a particular form. 'Liquid zeolite' can no longer be considered zeolite if you go by the official definition.
If you break down the typical structural integrity of the crystalline formation, do they lose their adsorbent detox capabilities?
Thanks for the advice on zeolite. I had written it off as potentially dangerous and you confirmed my conclusion.
Thank you again Ellen for the expert advice!
PHOTO ABOVE: Detox options safer and more effective than any form of Zeolite.
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