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Medicinal clay is one of those things that makes me shake my head on one hand, and ask questions on the other hand.
Used externally, AND internally, medicinal clay consists of various types of bentonite clay, each of which is promoted by the miners of the clay to be the best type. It has been used historically by some native peoples, for both internal and external use.
Bentonite clay is a very fine, very slippery and sticky type of clay, which is formed from volcanic ash that has settled in water, where it blended with various other elements that were present in the water. Over time, the water leached out, leaving behind clay deposits. This clay has many industrial uses, and only the finer quality is used medicinally (theoretically, anyway!).
You'd think that when we have reduced ourselves to eating dirt, that it might be a less expensive remedy than herbs, extracts, and organic foods.
Medicinal clay of good quality is actually fairly expensive. It goes a long way for most people. But it ain't cheap!
I ignored the references to it until recently. Until I was given a free sample, and started to research it.
I think it is a lot like reflexology. The theory behind why it works is mostly crock. It works for reasons other than those stated. But it does work. For some things.
My own take on it is that bentonite clay is rich in minerals. Many people are deficient in various minerals, many of them are trace minerals, so they are largely ignored in common philosophies of nutritional health. But those trace minerals can make all the difference in a body that is struggling with being nourished enough to heal well, sustain pregnancy, or maintain good balance of the body systems, and those trace minerals can also be the difference between a body being constantly in a false starvation mode (where it hoards resources and causes persistent obesity), and it receiving signals of being well fed.
WHICH minerals the clay is rich in, depends entirely upon WHERE it originates. Some was formed with salt water, some was formed in mineral water, some in water rich in algae, some in plan fresh water.
The one we were given a sample of was formed in mineralized salt water, so it is high in many kinds of minerals, including chlorides (that is important). The clay we were given is Redmond Clay, which is very high quality.
So, after careful (and prayerful) research and study, I decided to try it. I have some metabolic issues - my body cannot metabolize some irregular forms of nutrients. It cannot convert irregular forms to perfect forms the way most people can. So if I don't get the right kinds of foods, I cannot break them down into forms that are usable by my body. This causes all sorts of problems, which are too complicated to explain.
I decided to try the clay, with the assumption that if it is mineral rich, it might have forms of some minerals that I could use - because I can't get some of the foods that I need right now that have better forms of nutrients, so the problems caused by the metabolic issues have damaged my ability to use some forms of vitamins and minerals as well. It seemed worth a try.
The jury is still out on whether it will provide that kind of benefit for me. But this is what we have learned in the trials.
- I am allergic to it. I can tolerate some, but not a lot. This is due to the chlorides. I am allergic to chlorine and all similar compounds. It makes my face and throat swell, inside and out. Not good. The reaction is controllable, using bee pollen (I am also allergic to anti-histamines, because THEY have chlorides in them also!). So I reduced the amount of clay, and the reaction just barely occurs, and I do not use it daily. I am reporting this, because other people with chlorine allergies may not be able to control it so well, and a clay with a lower level of chlorides might be a better choice for them.
- The first time I used it, I used about 1 tsp of the clay, and it had an overnight constipating effect. Not severe. But noticeable. If you tend in that direction, using less to start might be wise.
- Most sources stress the need to use this product "on an empty stomach", or "mixed with water". I did not. Drinking mud is not something I can manage. I mixed mine with hot chocolate. Chocolate helps me metabolize some nutrients, and it just felt like the right thing to do. The hot chocolate turned out VERY thick and rich, even with just a small amount of the clay in it (about a tablespoon of thinly mixed clay water).
- I mixed mine a LOT thinner than the producer suggested. They say 2 parts water to 1 part clay. You can't even STIR that! IT is VERY difficult to mix without lumps if you mix it that thick (they say to shake it... that thick is not shakeable). So we put about 2 TBSP in a pint jar, and added about 1 1/2 cups water. We shook the jar, and then let it set. There were lumps. I came back about 10 minutes later and shook it again. Kept repeating that until there were no more lumps and it was smooth. Took about 4-5 times. The end result had a thin gravy consistency on the first day, and it continued to gradually thicken - it has been a week, and it has a medium gravy consistency now. About 1/4 cup equals 1 tsp of clay. I use about 1 TBSP of the mixture at a time, that is all I can handle.
- I cannot use it externally, because of the chlorine sensitivities. I can dilute it a lot to use internally, but applying direct to skin would be too strong. I do think this could be a good alternative to talc for people who are not chlorine sensitive though, or if you are using a clay that has a lower chloride level.
- Another member of our household has a problem with chronic diarrhea, as a result of bowel surgery. Use of the clay, greatly diluted, in small amounts throughout the day helps control this. It only has a localized effect though - it seems to thicken up the bowel contents, rather than actually healing the problem. We are hopeful though that slowing down the movement of food through the bowels will aid in giving her body time to extract more nutrients from her food than she does now, which would provide a really wonderful benefit to her.
- Clay is supposed to aid in detoxing. The theory behind this is that it supposedly magnetically bonds to toxins. I find this theory to lack credibility. It is not as though all toxins are negatively charged and all healthy stuff is positively charged or neutral! If the clay is positively charged, and attracts things that are negatively charged, then it would bind to the first molecules it encountered, whether they were toxins or not. Some people say you must never stir it with metal, because of this theory, for fear it will "decharge" the clay particles. Whatever clay is doing, it is not this - it does not make sense, and it would pull healthy nutrients out of you as fast as it did toxins if that were the case. However it works, for whatever it can help, this is not it.
- High mineral content is responsible for much good. I can eat foods high in sodium nitrate, and it will lower my reactions to chlorines. I am not sure WHY that is so, and the only theory I can come up with is that the sodium would rather bind with chlorine than with nitrate, which may cause a detoxing effect where chlorine is concerned. The components in the clay may be good at performing a similar function, to remove some harmful elements, or they may be able to bind with incomplete metabolites (which build up in the body and cause mitochondrial and cellular damage), to either convert them into usable forms, or to flush them safely from the body. A body with good and whole nutrition is capable of miraculous healing, where one with nutritional obstacles can stay stuck in a state of chronic disease, so there may be nothing other than nutrients that cause it to help. I am still testing where the clay is concerned, to know IF it will do any good, and if so WHAT in this regard.
- The ONE positive benefit that I did notice is that a persistent fungal infection MINIMALLY improved the first day after I used the clay, but then mildly worsened the second day. This infection has always shown up when I am either experiencing physical stress, or when I am overloaded on chlorides, so I suspect something in the clay helped heal it a bit until the clay itself overloaded me on chlorides.
There is nothing mystical or mysterious about medicinal clay. It does have an anecdotal track record for healing many conditions.
If you choose to use it though, there is really only ONE rule...
Forget about all the stuff regarding metal, plastic, with or without food, etc.
Just makes sure you mix it thoroughly with water so that it is free of lumps before you first use it, and DON'T take very much (1 tsp or less equivalent of the powder).
If you wish to experiment after you know how you react to it, fine. But at first, you do not want to end up plugging yourself up with miserable constipation, and it can do that if you take too much, or if it is not well dissolved when you take it.
The clay is like flour in your gravy. You know how you put in a Tablespoon of flour, and the whole cup of water or milk is thickened?
Clay does the same thing, very rapidly, no heat required! (Only I am persuaded that it thickens MORE than flour!)
Mix it with water, and it is capable of thickening up a LOT of water! You don't want it to be absorbing that liquid while it is inside you!
So that is the rule! Avoid letting it clog you up!
I feel that there may be a place for this for some people, with some conditions, for internal use, to stimulate healing. I also feel that it can be useful for external use as a cold poultice for stings, burns, etc, for those who are not sensitive to chlorine.
The information on this site is presented for informational purposes only, and consists of the opinions and experiences of the site authors. It is not to be construed as medical advice or to be used to diagnose or treat any illness. Seek the assistance of a medical professional in implementing any nutritional changes with the goal of treating any medical condition. The historical and nutritional information presented here can be verified by a simple web search.