Ever since Raymond Dextreit, a well known French naturopath, famous for his book “Our Earth Our Cure” came into our lives almost 30 years ago, we were instinctively and almost immediately persuaded to use healing clay. We ordered French Green Clay from Cattier, a French firm, and added it to our repertoire of healing remedies.
Since then, in our family, a finger with a minor cut is dipped into a glass of drinking water and then into a jar of green clay and left to dry under a loose band-aid. It heals in no time at all. As a teenager, Radi dabbed a paste of hydrated clay on her occasional acne eruptions overnight and in a few days they had disappeared without a trace. Similarly, her symptoms of a stomach ulcer disappeared after a week of drinking clay water.
An abandoned pet dog who comes to us regularly for feeding arrived one day minus three-quarters of one ear, bleeding badly and with the whole mess exuding a foul odor. Obviously in pain, he wouldn’t let us touch the ear so Mithu sprinkled dry clay from a slight height on his ear while he was drinking water. This clay sprinkling for a week or so left our friend “Choco” with a healed, pink quarter ear, which seems to function fine.
We do not recommend this casual way of using clay to our readers and suggest that they consult a health practitioner or read the relevant books on how to use clay.
To date, we have used French Green Clay but now we hope to try some of the other clays that we have learnt about in the course of our research. In this article, we will discuss the general properties of clay and describe the main and commonly used therapeutic varieties. Further along in this article, we will provide a summary of some of the well known healing clays and their origins.
The History of Clay Use:
The use of clay for both healing and ritualistic purposes goes far back into antiquity. Recorded history tells us that the Ancient Egyptians used it both medicinally and for embalming their Mummies as clay’s moisture absorbing properties preserved these bodies for thousands of years, that is, until we interfered with the process in recent times.
Dietary studies of the descendants of the Incas point to clay eating as a common practice. It was also used by the predecessors of the Aztecs and other South American civilizations for healing purposes.
The Aborigines of Australia and some tribes in Africa are also known to have used clay medicinally and perhaps also for ceremonial purposes. Native American populations used a variety of clays for healing and body purification and also for spiritual ceremonies. They called clay Eee Wah Kee or “mud that heals.”
In India, Multani Mitthi or “Indian Fullers Earth” was and still is used in clay baths for body purification though whether this or any other varieties of clay were ingested, we do not know.
The Essenes, the authors of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, were aware of the potent healing properties of clay and used it to treat a variety of health conditions.
The Hunzas, a tribe living in the mountainous regions of Pakistan, are known to be an extremely healthy and long lived people. Apart from their active and healthy lifestyles and diet, the clay particles naturally deposited in their local water supplies and consumed over lifetimes might very well have contributed to their longevity.
Healers of antiquity commonly used clay. Dioscorides, the Greek, attributed great potency to the vital properties of clay, and both Galem (also Greek) and the Arab, Avicena, praised its healing qualities. The Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder, devoted a whole chapter of his Natural History to clay.
More recently, the well known German naturopaths, Kneipp, Kuhn, Just, Felke, and others of the last century have contributed to clay’s revival in natural treatments.
Last but not least, animals, domestic and wild, instinctively lick or eat clay, or even roll in it, to eliminate poisons, rectify mineral deficiencies, or get relief from injuries. Apart from mammals, birds and reptiles use clay too. Some vets today are using it for treating infections and injuries suffered by their patients.
General Properties and Uses of Clay:
Clays come in many colors and hues depending on their sources and mineral content, and their healing properties may vary accordingly. While the trace elements and mineral salts in clays partly account for their healing properties, clay is thought to act as a catalyst rather than the actual healing agent.
Raymond Dextreit describes clay as a living substance that acts intelligently. Where a chemical product being a dead substance acts blindly and destroys all bacteria, good or bad, useful or harmful, clay treats the whole system, selectively honing in on toxins and eliminating harmful bacteria.
Clay particles carry a negative electrical charge while toxins in the body carry a positive charge. With the usage of clay, whether internally or externally, the positively charged ions of various toxins are attracted to the negatively charged surface of the clay particle and an exchange of ions takes place. In this process, the toxins are bound and held onto until they can be eliminated.
Dextreit goes on to tell us that clay’s active powers may be due to its being a powerful agent of stimulation, transformation, and transmission of energy given the fact that its particles contain a considerable amount of energy drawn from the powerful magnetic entity that is our planet Earth. Extraordinary energy resources, normally dormant in the organism, are awakened by clay.
Research into modern uses of high quality healing clays has indicated that it can be effectively used to treat skin ailments, stomach disorders and infections of the intestinal tract, food allergies and poisoning, viral infections, mucus colitis, and to eliminate parasites.
According to Dextreit, clay heals ulcers and is an effective wound healer because it draws out toxins and helps in tissue and cell regeneration. It can even regenerate fractured bones and vertebrae. Together with lemons, it can act on capillaries, dissolving crystals and flakes.
Clay has also been used to heal stomach ulcers, alleviate arthritis, and help in the treatment of various conditions such as hemorrhoids, open wounds, anemia, and acne among other ills. Because clay contains both types of dietary iron – ferrous and ferric – in an easily assimilated form, it can help treat anemia. It alleviates allergic discomfort by neutralizing allergens. It also relieves heartburn and indigestion by absorbing excess stomach acids.
Trace minerals are needed by the body to maintain healthy functioning. The minerals in clay occur in natural proportion to one another and are therefore more easily absorbed by the intestinal tract. Minerals, being the carriers of the electrical potential in cells, enable vitamins, enzymes, and hormones to function efficiently.
Clays possesses anti-bacterial properties and these properties in certain clays have even healed Buruli Ulcer, a flesh-eating bacterial disease that occurs in Central and Western Africa. In an article entitled “The Value of Bentonite for Diarrhea” which appeared in the Medical Annals – District of Columbia (Vol. 20, No. 6, June 1961), doctors described the effects of using hydrated Bentonite clay for the treatment of diarrhea caused by bacterial and viral infections, food allergies, spastic colitis, and food poisoning. They concluded that in 97 percent of the studied cases, liquid bentonite significantly relieved abdominal cramps, headaches, nausea and weakness and that it proved to be a potent adsorbent aid in detoxification.
Another interesting property of clay is its ability to absorb radiation. It has been used by Russian scientists to protect themselves when working with nuclear materials. For this reason, it was also used in Chernobyl as protection against the effects of harmful radiation after the nuclear meltdown there.
Commonly Used Therapeutic Clays:
Bentonite, a sedimentary clay composed of ancient volcanic ash, is one of the most widely used varieties of healing clays. It includes Sodium Bentonite, Calcium Bentonite, and Magnesium Bentonite, which share some basic properties while having others peculiarly their own.
When hydrated and taken orally, Bentonite helps to detoxify the digestive system, eliminate internal parasites, and neutralize bacterial toxicity. It is a rich mineral supplement and an effective immune system booster through its ability to stimulate the body’s elimination processes and aid in liver detoxification and healthy function. It also increases the T-cell count and fights free radicals. Moreover, it can neutralize heavy metal toxicity, including poisoning due to mercury.
French Green Clay (a.k.a. Illite or Sea Clay):
This clay belongs to a sub-category of clay minerals known as Illite clays. It has been commonly used in Europe, especially France, as a healing clay used both internally and externally. However, in America it is not so well known and is generally used for cosmetic purposes.
Deposits of this variety of green clay have been found in China, India, the U.S. and some European countries but they are all included under the umbrella term “French Green Clay” since the French version was the first to become widely known.
Mined from ancient sea beds, this clay has a characteristic green color, which comes from a combination of iron oxides and decomposed plant matter, mostly seaweed and other algae. Components of French Green Clay include: dolomite, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, aluminium, silica, copper, selenium, cobalt, and montmorillonite.
Dextreit informs us that French Green Clay has enormous absorbent powers that draw out toxins from the body when used internally and externally. Its properties encompass the healing of the various ills noted earlier under general properties of clay, and these are very eloquently described by Dextreit in his book. It is also a very efficient deodorizer, absorbing foul odors on contact.
Red Desert Clay:
This clay is a very pure and rare variety of Calcium Montmorillonite which is found in underground dry-desert deposits and is therefore preserved in its pristine form. It contains around 67 minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and silica, as well as small amounts of trace elements. It can be used internally and externally and its high mineral content replenishes dietary deficiencies and enhances enzyme production, which helps the body to function efficiently.
The benefits of Red Desert Clay have been researched and documented by scientists at leading universities and it has been used as a detoxifier for intestinal problems as well as for treating a variety of conditions such as wounds, pain, stomach ulcers, anemia, and other health problems.
Pascalite is a rare cream colored calcium bentonite formed millions of years ago through volcanic action. Large deposits of this clay have been found in Wyoming, U.S.A. It contains a large number of minerals vital to life and is a very potent healing clay that can be used internally and externally for a variety of conditions. Apart from being a valuable nutritional supplement, when hydrated it has proved to be an effective natural pain reliever and anesthetic when applied in paste form to afflicted areas.
Being a calcium bentonite, Pascalite is also good for the bones and makes an effective tooth powder. Daily supplementation with calcium bentonite can even reverse osteoporosis.
A Summary Classification of Commonly Used Therapeutic and Cosmetic Clays:
French Green Clay: there are many varieties typically described as montmorillonite clays. Sources for this clay are China, parts of Europe, and India.
Sodium Bentonite: this widely used clay ranges in color from light grey to off white. It is commonly sourced from Wyoming, U.S.A. It can be used both internally and externally, and has all the potent healing properties of therapeutic clay.
Pascalite (a trade name of a calcium bentonite): this was first identified by a trapper named John Pascal. It is a cream colored clay sourced from Wyoming, U.S.A.
Red Desert Clay: this is a rich mineral clay from California long used by Native Americans.
Rhassoul Clay: this clay is mined from ancient deposits found in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Its other names are “Red Moroccan Clay” and “Oxide Clay.” It is a very mineral rich clay commonly used in spas across the world.
Jordan Clay: this red clay from the Kingdom of Jordan is known for its antibiotic and antimicrobial activity.
Redmond Clay: this is a whitish bentonite clay from Utah, U.S.A., which has a variety of internal and external uses ranging from detoxification to the treatment of digestive disorders, burns and bites.
Fullers Earth: this clay is used industrially as well as therapeutically. The Indian “Multani Mitthi” (Indian Fullers Earth) seems to belong to this category.
Kaolin Clay: this clay is also known as “White Cosmetic Clay”, “China Clay”, and “Ceramic Clay” and is found in many parts of the world.
Fango Mud: this clay is sourced in Peru and is generally used in cosmetic products.
Precautions When Using Clay Therapeutically:
Raymond Dextreit tell us that clay does not adapt itself to the presence of pharmaceutical drugs or even homeopathic ones. It should not therefore be combined with other types of medical treatment.
Dextreit also recommends a ten day purification treatment such as ingesting herbal tea, raw fruits, vegetables and juices to reduce the amount of toxins in the body prior to beginning clay treatment. This is because clay has a very powerful effect on the system. Clay treatment should then be accompanied by a healthy diet and a lot of liquids should be drunk between meals.
Clay for external and internal use should be hydrated in enamel, earthenware, porcelain, wood, or glass containers and mixed with wooden spoons. It should never come into contact with metal (aluminium, copper, iron, stainless steel etc.) or plastic materials. However, dry clay can be stored in plastic containers.
Natural clays are more effective than the processed clays for healing and it is possible that the FDA Grade B variety might be too processed to be a potent healer.
Clay should not be taken by high blood pressure patients without proper medical supervision as it can cause a temporary small spike in blood pressure. More generally, clay treatments should be done under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner.
Clay should not be used by those with clinically diagnosed iron intolerance (a very rare condition) without having a laboratory analysis done of the clay being used or undergoing blood sample monitoring during use.
Clay should be stored in non-metal containers in a cool dark place.
Please Note: For those of our readers who are interested in using clay for healing and skincare (both for humans and animals), please visit our product page, Therapeutic and Cosmetic Clays for information and to order some of the most powerful and effective clay products availabe.
And as a final note, we would love to hear about your experiences if you have used specific clays for healing or cosmetic purposes so as to add to our knowledge of the properties of different clays. Please do post your comments on our website.
Key Reference Sources:
- Dextreit, Raymond. 1974. Our Earth Our Cure. New York: Swan House Publishing.
- Eytons’ Earth. Healing Clays of the World. (http://www.eytonsearth.org).
- Frey, Rebecca J. French Green Clay. (http://answers.com/topic/french-green-clay).
- Ask Dr. Hull. Why is French Green Clay an Important Part of the Detox Program? (http://www.janethull.com/askdrhull/article.php?id=109).
- Shirley’s Wellness Cafe: Holistic Health Care for People and Animals. Our Earth, Our Cure – Clay Therapy, Healing Clay – Healing Earth. (http://www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com)
- Wikipedia Encyclopedia. Medicinal Clay. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healing_clay)
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is only intended to educate and inform our readers. It is in no way intended to provide medical advice or to diagnose or treat any disease. If you have a health problem, you should consult a healthcare practitioner before taking any substances for medicinal purposes.