Ancient Home Cure—Clay

Ancient Home Cure—Clay                                                                                                            by Laurie S Roth-Donnell | Holistic Health Practitioner and Master Herbalist

The use of medicinal clay in folk medicine goes back to prehistoric times. Indigenous peoples around the world still use clay widely, which is related to geography. The first recorded use of medicinal clay goes back to ancient Mesopotamia. A wide variety of clays are being used for medicinal purposes—primarily for external applications, like a simple clay bath at your local spa, but the healing clay can also be administered internally or by simply brushing your teeth. Among the clays most commonly used for medicinal purposes are kaolin and the smectite clays, such as bentonite, montmorillonite, and Fuller’s earth.

For external use, the clay may be added to the bath, or prepared in wet packs or poultices for application to specific parts of the body. Often, warm packs are prepared; the heat opens up the pores of the skin, and helps the interaction of the clay with the body. (All readily available online.)

Clay’s Antibacterial Property
Iron-rich smectite and illite clay (Montmorillonite/Bentonite type of clay) is effective in killing bacteria in vitro. Authors report that the clay mineral,”…exhibits bactericidal activity against E. coli.” Another study of more than 20 different clay samples from around the world, including the bentonite-type clays, achieved promising results against MRSA superbug infections and disease. Falkinham et al. studied the antibiotic and antimicrobial activity of red clays from the Kingdom of Jordan (Jordan’s Red Soil). The authors conclude that the antibiotic activity of Jordan’s red clay is likely due to the proliferation of antibiotic-producing bacteria that is induced by the clay.

Trace Minerals
Clays contain massive amounts of trace minerals, necessary for good health. (It is common
to see as many as 75 different trace minerals in Montmorillonite clays.) This may explain many of the healing properties of clay. These trace minerals vary greatly from region of origin, and the amount of a particular trace mineral in any specific clay varies tremendously. For example, the amount of iron in various bentonite clays can vary from well below 1% and up to 10%.

External Use of Clay
Mud baths are perhaps the most common use of clay. Almost all health spas around the world use clay on a daily basis and report health benefits for bathers. It is a natural detoxification process for the skin and entire body.
Clay has proven to be a very effective chelating agent. Chelation therapy is the use of chelating agents to detoxify poisonous metal agents such as mercury, arsenic, and lead by converting them to a chemically inert form that can be excreted without further interaction with the body, to treat cases of severe heavy metal poisoning. It is also used as a scientifically unsupported treatment for heart disease and autism. Oyanedel-Craver and Smith have studied sorption of four heavy metals (Pb, Cd, Zn and Hg) to 3 kinds of bentonite clay. The overall conclusion of the study was that the organoclays studied have considerable capacity for heavy metal sorption.

Skin Infections
Many types of skin infections have been healed by the application of medicinal clay. For example, montmorillonite has shown its effectiveness in this area. “Clays

can eliminate excess grease and toxins from skin, and hence are very effective against dermatological diseases such as boils, acne, ulcers, abscess, and seborrhoea.” Clay is used in many dermatological over-the-counter remedies, such as in acne treatments.

Use in Bandages
In April 2008, the Naval Medical Research Center announced the successful use of a Kaolinite-derived aluminosilicate nanoparticles infusion in traditional gauze known commercially as “QuikClot Combat Gauze”.

Internal use                                                                                                                                   According to one hypothesis, “In the stomach, the negative electrical charges of tiny clay particles attract positively charged toxins from stomach fluids. This clumping prevents very small particles, such as toxic molecules, from passing through the walls of the intestines and entering the bloodstream.” Clay can harmlessly eliminated toxins from the body through the kidneys, despite not entering the bloodstream, or through the bowel.

Clay is a natural ancient home cure and has shown benefits for centuries. Medicinal clay is typically available in health food stores as a dry powder or in jars in its liquid hydrated state— which is convenient for internal use. There are many areas in the United States rich with natural clay including the Little Big Horn area of Wyoming. As always, consult with your primary care physician before embarking on any new health regime.

Handbook of Clay Science, Developments in Clay Science. Vol. 1.
The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 61 (2): 353–361
Applied Clay Science, Volume 43, Issues 3-4