You may have gotten in trouble for playing in the mud as a kid, but nowadays it’s actually recommended.
What do I mean?
If you look at nature, animals seem to know a thing or two about mud. Pigs roll in it to keep bugs off, elephants and hippos slather it on to protect their skin against the sun, and Peruvian monkeys have been known to eat termite mounds that happen to have a lot of clay in it (1).
Why clay? Clay has been around for thousands of years. It’s part of the many ancient layers of earth you stand on. As part of the layers that make the earth’s crust, it offers stability and strength.
It’s also full of minerals and seems to offer some health benefits. In this article, we’re going to talk about a particular clay called bentonite. You may have heard it by its other names: Aztec clay or Indian healing clay.
Let’s look into where this sandy-colored clay came from, some of its uses, and potential risks.
The first records of bentonite clay date back to the 1890s. Researcher William Taylor studied clay deposits around Fort Benton, Montana. It’s an accumulation of ancient volcanic ash, as well as another substance called tuff.
There are actually two types of bentonite clay:
- Calcium bentonite: This is considered a “non-swelling” clay due to the double water layer found in it.
- Sodium bentonite: This is considered a “swelling” clay because of the single water layer it contains.
Both are used for a variety of different uses. The differences are more for physical reference (2).
One of its biggest characteristics is that it contains compounds that bind to negative charged toxins, making it ideal for cleansing the body.
Because of the abundance of minerals, bentonite clay has been deemed “the clay with 1000 uses”. Not only is it used in products like cat litter, animal feed, and crayons, it’s also been used since ancient times for medicinal purposes.
Bentonite clay is believed to help with:
- Detoxing: Some studies have shown that when exposed to toxins such as pesticides, taking small amounts of bentonite clay can help reduce its harmful effects (3).
- Another study showed that it can help remove lead, which is an important part of many heavy-metal detoxes (7).
- Skin: Because of its ability to bind to toxins, applying bentonite clay facial masks is a growing natural beauty treatment for those suffering from acne or skin rashes. Research is conflicted on whether it consistently works or not. However, there is a study that showed bentonite clay can help reduce the severity of poison ivy rashes, as well as speed up the recovery time (4).
- Hair: Due to its detoxing properties, some people use it as hair and scalp masks. The idea is that it helps remove buildup, which can cause irritation. One study has shown that it can even help increase the growth of sheep wool (5).
- Digestion: Stomach issues such as diarrhea can range from mild and occasional, to severe and chronic. One study found that ingesting clay helped stop rotavirus from replicating, resulting in a reduction in diarrhea (6).
- Cholesterol: Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels reduces your risk of heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. One study shows how bentonite clay helped the body get rid of excess cholesterol in waste (8).
- Antibacterial: Natural clay has been shown to have antibacterial effects, especially when applied topically to the skin as a poultice (9).
Applying bentonite clay to your skin is generally considered safe. If you develop a rash or other irritation, discontinue.
Some medical professionals warn that consuming it could potentially block parts of your intestine, keeping you from absorbing nutrients (10).
If you’re pregnant, nursing, or taking medications, talk with your health provider before taking bentonite clay internally.
Clay is a natural element of the earth. As part of the many layers on the ground, its compact nature is full of minerals.
Bentonite clay is a particular type that has been used for a long time. It can be used on the skin, hair, as well as taken internally for stomach issues and detoxing.
While it has many benefits, check with your doctor before starting any consistent regimen.
Have you tried bentonite clay? If so, what has your experience been? Let us know!
References & Disclaimers
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author