Bentonite is a high performance desiccant used to protect a variety of products from moisture degradation, maintaining product quality and shelf life and widely used in pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and diagnostic packaging applications. Because of its adsorptive properties, environmental benefits and cost effectiveness, bentonite is an ideal desiccant and viable alternative to traditional desiccants such as silica gel for healthcare packaging applications.
Bentonite can be used as a binding agent, thickener, suspending agent, emulsion stabilizer or adsorbent in pharmaceutical, nutritional and cosmetic formulations. For example, bentonite is used as an adsorbent additive to tablet formulations to allow oils, fluid extracts and eutectic melts to be incorporated into tablets. It can be used as a component in antacids or in pharmaceutical suspensions as a thixotropic suspending agent. Bentonite is also used in a formulation technique for chewable tablets as a substrate capable of keeping bad-tasting drugs adsorbed while in the mouth and eventually releasing them in the stomach or gastrointestinal tract. Another application for bentonite is as an antidote in heavy metal poisoning and for some digestive disorders, and pure pharmaceutical-grade bentonite is also marketed by companies like Nature's Sunshine and Yerba Prima as a detoxifying nutritional supplement. It is fully regulated for use as a pharmaceutical ingredient or agent under US Pharmacopeia and National Formulary standards (USP30–NF25).