Bentonite clay is known for its highly absorptive properties and various health benefits. It is known as an effective and low-cost method for deeply cleansing skin and body, and has a wide range of actions on various parts of the body.
A brief history of clay
Pelotherapy is the therapeutic application of clay and dates back thousands of years. Certain clays were central to many practices across many cultures, including Australian Aborigines, Native Americans, Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.
Notably, not all clays are the same. There are many types of clay, each with a specific mineral composition and each with different uses.
Bentonite clay in particular was named after Fort Benton in Wyoming, where its largest sources are found. Bentonite clay has also been used across various cultures throughout history in both daily practices as well as for specific remedies.
What is bentonite clay and how does bentonite clay work?
Bentonite clay has been milled into a fine powder and easily mixes with water to form a smooth paste suitable for various applications. It also contains various minerals, including calcium, magnesium, silica, sodium, copper, iron and potassium.
In its natural state, bentonite clay possesses negatively charged molecules, while most toxins contain positively charged molecules. The clay is naturally drawn to these negative molecules and binds to them, and acting similarly to a sponge, some clay minerals absorb substances to aid their removal from the body.
Bentonite clay for external use
Bentonite clay can be added to baths, used in facials and as a poultice.
Baths with clay
Preparing the bath – the clay can be added directly to the bath water. We recommend sprinkling the clay over the surface of the water whilst the bath is filling. Avoid tipping it all in at once in the same spot.
For adults – we recommend using 1 cup of clay per bath for your first few baths, and waiting a few days between each bath. After this, the amount can be increased to 1 ½ cups for the next few baths, again waiting a few days in between baths. The amount can then be increased again to 2 cups maximum. A 20-30 minute long bath is sufficient, however you may like to stay in the bath for up to 45 minutes.
For children – use 1/3 to ½ cup maximum per bath. A 10-20 minute long bath is adequate.
Precautions – you may experience mild symptoms as the clay supports your body’s natural detoxification mechanisms. These symptoms may include fatigue, muscular aches and headaches; however they should only be temporary (20-60 minutes). Thus, we recommend you rest after your bath. If you experience symptoms that persist, please reduce the amount of clay in the bath, reduce the amount of time in the bath, and/or increase the time between baths.
Foot baths with bentonite clay
Simply use the bathing recommendations above. A shallow container with enough depth for the water to reach at least your ankles is sufficient.
Facials, body wraps and poultices with bentonite clay
Use a ratio of 1 part clay to 2 parts water – e.g. 100g clay to 200ml water. Remember to add the clay to the water, not the water to the clay. Allow the mix to sit for at least 2 hours, then pour off any excess water that has risen to the top. If you prefer a thicker paste, simply sprinkle in more clay.
Face mask – apply a thin layer of the paste to your face for 10-20 minutes or until dry. Gently remove it with a warm damp cloth.
Body wrap – apply a thin layer of the paste to your body. Cover with a warm damp towel and leave for 20-60 minutes. Gently remove it with a warm damp cloth.
Poultices – spread the paste directly onto the area to be treated, or onto a clean gauze / cloth and then apply. Gently bandage the area to keep the clay in place. Leave for approximately 20-60 minutes. Repeat the process as required. The thicker the paste, the stronger the application will be. The thinner the clay, the more quickly it will dry, which decreases efficacy. To counteract this, the clay can be sprayed with a fine mist of water to keep it moist.
Other applications with bentonite clay
Shower scrub – bentonite clay can also be applied in the shower as a scrub. Simply apply to your body and leave for 2-3 minutes, then wash off.
Shaving gel – moisten the section of your body you want to shave, then apply a thin layer of paste and use as you would any other shaving gel.
Precautions – some people experience pink or red skin afterwards, this usually fades within about 10 minutes. If you notice any stinging or itching during use, remove the clay immediately as you may be sensitive. If doing a full body wrap, you may also experience some of the symptoms listed under the precautions in the bathing section above.
Bentonite clay for internal use
Please ask us in store before beginning to take clay internally, as each person is unique and has varying requirements. It is best to start small and slowly increase the dose. Bentonite clay shouldn’t be ingested in large quantities.
Common ways that bentonite clay is consumed for internal use
- As a clay drink – simply mixed with water or fresh juice
- Mixed into a paste and consumed
Bentonite clay is not advised during pregnancy or if you have a heart condition or other medical condition. Some bentonite clays contain traces of heavy metals, however the clay we sell at Braidwood Holistic Therapies contains no heavy metals, additives, fillers or dissolving agents. Please ask us for more advice before beginning to use bentonite clay.
Get yours at Braidwood Holistic Therapies
BHT has Bentonite Clay in stock at the shopfront. Jars are $13.
The information provided is for informational purposes only. No statement listed here should be considered a claim for treatment or prevention of any disease or condition. It is advisable to consult with a health care professional regarding your personal health needs prior to beginning use.
Australian Healing Clay. (2019). https://healingclay.com.au
Moosavi, M. (2017). Bentonite Clay as a Natural Remedy: A Brief Review.Iran Journal of Public Health, 46 (9). 1176-1183. http://ijph.tums.ac.ir
Williams LB., Haydel, SE., and Ferrell, RE. (2009). Bentonite, Bandaids and Borborymgi. Elements (Que), 5(2). 99-104. doi: 10.2113/gselements.5.2.99.
This article was written for BHT by Nina Kingsford-Smith. Nina is part of the BHT team, looking after various content and marketing. She is a qualified nutritionist and has her own great blog at Healthy Happenings with Nina.
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The article Healing Clay was published by Hollie, for Braidwood Holistic Therapies.
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