Edible Clay Benefits

Edible Clay Benefits

Edible Clay Benefits

Clay is perhaps one of nature's oldest beauty treatments, and famously makes an appearance in images of women luxuriating at the spa, with their hair wrapped in a towel and cucumbers over their eyes. The properties that make clay a potent skin mask are the same ones that provide health benefits to people when taking clay internally – namely, clay's ability to both absorb and adsorb unwanted substances.

Healing Clay Mask

Ab-sorption vs Ad-sorption

What is the difference between these two functions?

First, think of a sponge, with many tiny holes. A sponge can ab–sorb liquids by trapping them internally, in between all the tiny spaces of the sponge particles. If you've ever done dishes with a sponge, you've noticed that it can hold many times its own weight in liquids, right?

Now think of a roll of scotch tape. The roll is solid and smooth, but when it's drawn out, the surface is sticky and it binds substances to it. This sticky surface can ad-sorb particles that are bigger and heavier than the film of the tape itself, because the particles get bound and trapped against the sticky tape's surface.

Clay can actually behave in both ways!

Taking Clay Internally

When we discuss edible clay benefits, we are certainly not suggesting that you serve yourself a bowl of mushy, slimy clay and eat it up with a spoon! Rather we mean taking purified clay supplements, which are often available in the form of capsules. These capsules make it easy to swallow the clay, but they quickly dissolve when they reach the stomach, allowing the clay to interact with the substances in your gastrointestinal tract.

Benefits of Clay Capsules

There are many reasons to keep edible clay in your medicine cabinet – the list of benefits is surprisingly long!

The first thing to know is that clay has a great affinity for water, easily absorbing twice or more its own volume.

So if you are feeling sick to your stomach, and feeling like you might have a bout of diarrhea coming on, it might be time to put this absorptive quality of clay to work for you!

Bentonite Clay Capsules

How We Use Clay For Sick Bellies

In this case, the technique I use for myself and my family is to swallow two capsules of medicinal clay every 15-20 minutes with a few sips of water. I don't overdo it with the water, however, because I want the clay to absorb what is in my intestines and thicken up as the clay is passing through. In my experience, a bout of diarrhea usually 'dries up' within a few hours when this technique is used.

Certainly the water-absorbing properties of clay are at work here, but so is the other quality of clay I mentioned – its ability to adsorb or bind substances to its surface. Clay mechanically neutralizes toxins, chemicals, and pathogens by grabbing onto them and carrying them out of the body through the colon. So when a tummy bug is making you sick, clay doesn't just firm things up, it also drags the offending bug right out of you!

A 2017 review found that bentonite clay effectively treated 97% of cases of diarrhea, with different causative factors for the sickness (everything from viral infection to food poisoning). This same review noted that clay has antibacterial properties, it removes toxins accumulating in the body from mold exposure, it removes heavy metals such as lead, copper and cadmium as well as pesticides and herbicides, and removes dangerous levels of the body's own substances when they get out of balance (such as excess bile, or cytokins following an elevated immune system response).

Clay does all this without removing the vitamins and minerals the body needs. And unlike antibiotics, it has no negative effects on the gut microbiome. In fact, edible clay can help reduce gut permeability by augmenting the mucus lining of the intestines – in other words, it helps patch up the holes, reducing inflammation and giving your body a chance to heal.

Edible Clay Benefits For the Stomach

Before clay even reaches your intestines, there's work it can be doing in the stomach! Medicinal clay can be an effective treatment for heartburn. Consider the technique I described for lower belly woes, and apply it to an acid stomach. In fact, the clay in capsules can go to work absorbing unwanted acids even faster than it can soak up the liquids and pathogens further along your digestive tract. Bentonite clay not only binds up and removes excessive acidity in the stomach, it can also kill infections such as H. pylori that can be the cause of acid reflux.

Clay Adsorbs Dietary Fats

Of course, not all acid reflux is caused by pathogens – sometimes it's the result of good old fashioned overindulgence. But even here, medicinal clay does not fail to deliver. Edible clay adsorbs dietary fats and cholesterol, and carries them out of the body just like it does with toxins.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that taking clay capsules along with your meal gives you carte blanche to eat anything you want. As I frequently repeat, there is no way to supplement your way out of a poor diet. Nevertheless, we all have our moments where we let the sides down. And when that (occasionally!) happens, taking clay internally has been shown to help move fats straight through and out of you, reducing your exposure to unwanted calories and inflammatory substances.

Clay Adsorbs Dietary Fats

Medicinal Clay & Gallbladder Patients

So where does this leave gallbladder patients? When I initially learned how clay can bind to dietary fats and help remove them from the body in an undigested state, my first thought was, I wonder if this can help gallbladder patients to avoid an attack?

To be honest, I have never heard of such a thing, and when I conducted a pretty thorough search for studies along these lines, I wasn't able to find anything.

If you consider the ethics involved with medical research, I cannot imagine conditions in which medical professionals would ask people with gallbladder disease to deliberately eat a high fat meal just to see how many painful attacks would be provoked, with our without following the meal with clay. So I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that there hasn't been research conducted along these lines.

Personally, I no longer have a gallbladder myself – and painful digestion is one concern I no longer take with me to the dinner table.

However, I am among the many people who have experienced weight gain after gallbladder removal, which means I am still watching my food intake pretty carefully. I am glad to know that if I ever slip up a bit, I can rely on medicinal clay capsules to get me back on track!

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References:

Moosavi, Maryam. “Bentonite Clay as a Natural Remedy: A Brief Review.” Iranian journal of public health vol. 46,9 (2017): 1176-1183
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5632318/

Williams, Lynda B, and Shelley E Haydel. “Evaluation of the medicinal use of clay minerals as antibacterial agents.” International geology review vol. 52,7/8 (2010): 745-770
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2904249/

Haydel, Shelley E et al. “Broad-spectrum in vitro antibacterial activities of clay minerals against antibiotic-susceptible and antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens.” The Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy vol. 61,2 (2008): 353-61
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18070832/

Xu, Pengfei et al. “Microbiome Remodeling via the Montmorillonite Adsorption-Excretion Axis Prevents Obesity-related Metabolic Disorders.” EBioMedicine vol. 16 (2017): 251-261
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28126594/

Nadziakiewicza, Małgorzata et al. “Physico-Chemical Properties of Clay Minerals and Their Use as a Health Promoting Feed Additive.” Animals : an open access journal from MDPI vol. 9,10 714. 23 Sep. 2019
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6827059/