One press release focuses on the potential to use sepiolite as a cohesive agent in drugs. Could an edible, synthetic form of sepiolite be made available someday?
It's unclear, but so far, there's nothing in the new paper to suggest sepiolite would be a safe option. In fact, making claims about consuming the mineral seems to expand beyond the paper's original purpose: to better understand sepiolite's composition using X-rays and electron particles. Minerals such as asbestos were first reveled because of their potential. But now we know that material and man don't always mix safely.
In the experiment, researchers from France and Spain used X-ray diffraction methods on 20 sepiolite crystal samples from a handful of mines around the world. The team found a way to link the mineral's fiber structure with its atomic composition. The challenge was that sepiolite comprises microscopic needle structures that vary, with some samples possessing more than one type of structure.
Although the research would make it easier to develop an efficient form of synthetic sepiolite, there's no evidence suggesting it can be safely used in humans - yet.
First photo by eviltomthai/Flickr.com Second photo by Helix84/Wikimedia Commons