The history of the medicinal use of bentonite clay extends back to prehistoric times yet remains a current practice in many regions of the world. It is found in numerous traditional cultures and alternative therapies. Calcium bentonite clay is primarily used internally to aid in detoxification, but it has many other uses as well. Skin disorders, infections and digestive troubles can be addressed using bentonite. In addition to its ability to remove impurities, toxins and microorganisms inside and outside the body, it also provides essential minerals.
Natural therapies for detoxifying the body frequently use calcium bentonite clay. The clay particles have the ability to adsorb many substances, which means that they collect on the surface due to adhesion. This action is believed to slow absorption of impurities into the body while hastening their removal. Calcium bentonite clay also absorbs impurities, but this process takes longer than ionic adsorption. There is increased interest in detoxification and the use of calcium bentonite clay, as many are concerned about the effects of environmental pollution on health.
A toxic burden on the body has been blamed for numerous disorders including cancer, a weakened immune system, and chronic digestive problems. Calcium bentonite clay is taken internally to cleanse the intestines of impurities and relieve toxicity in the liver. By cleansing the digestive tract, it is believed that the entire body functions more efficiently. Bentonite is also promoted as a treatment for intestinal worms and other parasites.
Pregnant and lactating women in many cultures have traditionally consumed bentonite and other clays. Termed geophagy, the ancient practice is still found in areas of Africa, India, parts of the southern United States and elsewhere. Studies point to the mineral content of clay, theorizing that it not only relieves nausea but also provides essential nutrients for the developing fetus, nursing baby and mother. Geophagy is viewed variously as a disorder or as a healthful practice, depending primarily on cultural beliefs. In western medicine, a disorder known as pica is characterized by eating non-food items including clay and potentially hazardous substances such as cigarette ash, lead chips and plaster.
Externally, calcium bentonite clay is used to draw impurities from the skin. It is believed that heavy metals can be adsorbed using a clay bath. A poultice of bentonite clay is recommended for skin conditions including rashes, bites and stings. It is also used in products that exfoliate and detoxify to maintain healthy skin. Natural remedies for acne recommend the use of calcium bentonite clay both internally and externally to clear the skin.
Calcium bentonite clay is said to treat varicose and spider veins by internal detoxification and external application. Similar methods are used to address the skin disorders psoriasis and eczema. It is believed that many skin disorders are symptoms of the buildup of toxins internally. There is evidence confirming bentonite clay’s effectiveness in alleviating candidiasis and other yeast infections. Laboratory testing has also shown bentonite to be effective against several bacterial pathogens.