Bentonite Clay, What is it and how you can benefit from this versatile ingredient
Posted on June 11 2020
We use Calcium Bentonite for it’s superior calcium content.
Where it comes from
Bentonite clay was first “discovered” near Rock River Wyoming which is still one of the largest suppliers of Bentonite clay in the world. Bentonite clays have also been found in China, Russia, Africa, South America and Greece.
Bentonite clay has been used by cultures across the globe for all of recorded history for many medicinal purposes, before it was named “Bentonite” clay it was known as healing clay, mother’s clay and many other folk names. We must pause to give a disclaimer: we are not giving medical advice, this information is for historical purposes only. Ok now that we’ve gone through those hoops... In South America bentonite clay is formed into cakes or tablets and taken internally for stomach ache, indigestion, parasites and more. Parrots eat bentonite clay as a regular part of their diet, the bentonite clay absorbs toxins from the seeds in their stomachs before their bodies absorb it. Native Americans have used Bentonite clay topically for skin irritation, infection and burns. Elephants cover themselves in it to prevent sunburn and fight skin mites. In Sub-Saharan Africa, pregnant women eat up to 30g a day of clays, it is speculated that the clay helps to remove toxins from the mother’s system, provide needed minerals and helps to ease nausea.
The dirt, mineral and nutrition hypothesis speculates that since many of the minerals needed by the body are essentially made or dirt and rock, we can get these minerals from direct eating of clay and it may be an effective nutritional supplement. A relatable example of this is salt. Us humans mine salt mineral from the ground or distill it from ocean water but in the wild animals find rock salt deposits and incorporate them into their regular territory to lick. By eating from these “salt licks” the animals gain much needed minerals such as such as sodium, calcium, iron, phosphorous and zinc.
“Seeing this phenomenon in animals, the scientist Dr. John Hunter, a geologist at Michigan State University, compared the typical daily consumption of clays in Africa to the suggested dosage of several mineral supplements sold in the U.S. Testing both the mineral content and bioavailability of various clays sold for consumption in the markets of Ghana, Dr. Hunter determined that the clays compared favorably in magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. The bioavailability of calcium in eaten clays reached 4% of U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance, with iron supplementation reaching as high as 66% of RDA.
A similar study simulated human digestion in the laboratory to determine the availability of nutrients in holy clay tablets regularly consumed in by pregnant mothers in Central American Belize. The study, published in The Geographical Review, found that pregnant women eating clay from these tablets could supply nearly 20% of the U.S. RDA for iron and calcium, and significant amounts of magnesium, copper and zinc.”
The dirt, mineral and nutrition hypothesis continues to be studied given the diversity of the cultures that historically have used dietary clays and the diverse nature of the clays themselves, it is likely that not all clays are ideal for the same set of uses or conditions, and equally likely that the ingestion of clay does not necessarily serve a single purpose.
In more modern times Bentonite clay has become popular along with the resurgence of traditional health and beauty routines. Clay eating saw a resurgence with the health movements of the 1970’s and again in the 1990’s but not without controversy, many clays have trace amounts of heavy metals which caused mainstream health authorities to denounce the internal use of clays out right despite its historical use to cure disease and studies showing it’s positive effects (read more here). The controversy is still around and probably won’t go away any time soon. Bentonite clay is one of the most popular clays for ingestion and topical use. It’s ability to absorb many times it’s weight and it’s negative ion charge make it very appealing for detoxification purposes. Bentonite clay was one of the original ingredients of antacid and anti-nausea medications like mylanta.
Bentonite for teeth
Bentonite clay provides a gentle but effective abrasive for cleaning teeth, it ranks as a 1-2 on the Mohs scale that measures the hardness of minerals. The enamel of a human tooth is a 4, where as the silica in most mainstream toothpaste ranks a 7! The surface of bentonite has thousands of “pockets” which makes it especially good for dislodging and trapping food and plaque. The negative ionic charge of bentonite helps to stick positively charged bacteria and particles to it’s surface. This is part of the process utilized when consuming bentonite clay for detoxification. We don’t recommend swallowing the bentonite you just brushed with, not because the bentonite itself is harmful but because it is full of plaque and bacteria dislodged from your teeth.
Bentonite clay was found to reduce lead in farm animals
In one of the longest term real use case studies, bentonite clay was added to pig feed for 100 days. When tested bentonite clay was shown to significantly reduce the amount of lead found in the pigs blood and tissue.
The FDA found Bentonite clay can detox your body from bacterial, viral and allergenic source of diarrhea
The FDA approves a dose of 250mg to 1000mg of bentonite clay for use in treating diarrhea. In 1961 the FDA ran tests that showed bentonite clay to be effective in removing viral, allergic, and toxic sources of diaherra, reflecting it's ability to attract positively charged atoms into it's structure and expel it from the body.
In ecological studies Bentonite is shown to lower lead levels.
Bentonite clay has been used to purify water and lowers lead concentration in water.
Bentonite’s ability to absorb many times it’s weight in water makes it an excellent facemask. Different clays have different “draw” abilities, “draw” refers to the clay’s ability to absorb oil and dirt from your skin. Bentonite has a very high draw strength, it will probably leave your face rosy with increased blood flow after you wash it off so make sure you plan your mask session well ahead of any social engagements, unless you want to look like a strawberry. Don’t worry, after the blood flow has done it’s healing magic it will reduce and your skin tone will go back to normal!
Detoxifying Bentonite Mask for one person
1 TBS Bentonite Clay
1 TSP Activated Charcoal (Optional)
2 drops of essential oil. We recommend Lavender, patchouli, frankincense, or rosemary.
¼ tsp apple cider vinegar
Mix until a you get a yoghurt like texture. You can use filtered water, rose water, or even tea for extra effect.
Apply liberally especially to problem areas, let sit until completely dry.
To remove, soak a washcloth with very warm water and lay it over your face for 3-5 minutes. This will mosten and loosen the clay as well as re-moisturize your skin.
Gently rub the clay off with the washcloth for a mild dermabrasion, then rinse with warm water.
Follow with a light moisturiser and a nutritious skin serum.
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