When I was a wild cat in NYC and raising Hell on a routine basis I would cleanse myself of the intoxicants of a late night by drinking a nasty little cup of volcanic ash for breakfast. Nowadays as a devoted yogi and mother I have little time for late nights or ‘extracurriculars’ but toxins are still flooding my system in the form of second hand smoke, truck fumes etc. Therefore, every ten days or so I drink my volcanic ash and hold off for the day on taking vitamins or nutraceuticals.
A volcanic detoxifier—Bentonite, a medicinal powdered clay (also known as montmorillonite), derives from deposits of weathered volcanic ash. It is one of the most effective natural intestinal detoxifying agents available and has been recognized as such for centuries by native peoples around the world. Liquid clay contains minerals that, once inside the gastrointestinal tract, are able to absorb toxins and deliver mineral nutrients to an impressive degree. Liquid clay is inert which means it passes through the body undigested.
Technically, the clay first adsorbs toxins (heavy metals, free radicals, pesticides), attracting them to its extensive surface area where they adhere like flies to sticky paper; then it absorbs the toxins, taking them in the way a sponge mops up a kitchen counter mess.
There is an electrical aspect to bentonite’s ability to bind and absorb toxins. According to Yerba Prima, a company based in Ashland, Oregon, which markets Great Plains Bentonite, the clay’s minerals are negatively charged while toxins tend to be positively charged; hence the clay’s attraction works like a magnet drawing metal shavings. But it’s even more involved than that.
Once hydrated (combined with water), bentonite has an enormous surface area. According to Yerba Prima, a single quart bottle can represent a total surface area of 960 square yards or 12 American football fields. Bentonite is made of a great number of tiny platelets, with negative electrical charges on their flat surfaces and positive charges on their edges.
When bentonite absorbs water and swells, it is stretched open like a highly porous sponge; the toxins are drawn into these spaces by electrical attraction and bound fast. In fact, according to the Canadian Journal of Microbiology (31 , 50-53), bentonite can absorb pathogenic viruses, aflatoxin (a mold), and pesticides and herbicides including Paraquat and Roundup. The clay is eventually eliminated from the body with the toxins bound to its multiple surfaces.
According to Sonne’s Organic Foods of North Kansas City, Missouri, a company that markets Detoxificant (a liquid montmorillonite), “There is no evidence that bentonite has any chemical action in the body. Its power is purely physical.”
Clay’s adsorptive and absorptive qualities may be the key to its multifaceted healing abilities. Drinking clay has even helped sufferers of ganglion cysts (tumors attached to joints and tendons) to eliminate them in two months, without surgery.
Benefits reported by people using liquid clay for a period of two to four weeks include: improved intestinal regularity; relief from chronic constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, and ulcers; a surge in physical energy; clearer complexion; brighter, whiter eyes; enhanced alertness; emotional uplift; improved tissue and gum repair; and increased resistance to infections.
A medical study by Frederic Damrau, M.D., in 1961 (Medical Annals of the District of Columbia) established clearly that bentonite can end bouts of diarrhea. When 35 individuals (average age 51) suffering from diarrhea took two tablespoons of bentonite in distilled water daily, the diarrhea was relieved in 97% (34 of the 35 patients) in 3.8 days, regardless of the original cause of the problem (allergies, virus infection, spastic colitis, or food poisoning). According to Dr. Damrau, bentonite is “safe and highly effective” in treating acute diarrhea.
Research suggests that the regular intake of liquid clay (typically one to three tablespoons daily, in divided doses) can produce other benefits including parasite removal from the intestines, allergy and hay fever relief, and elimination of anemia and acne. For example, clay helps anemia because it contains both types of dietary iron (ferrous and ferric) in an easily assimilated form; it reduces discomfort from allergies by quickly neutralizing allergens that would otherwise produce allergic reactions; and it reduces heartburn and indigestion by absorbing excess stomach acids.
However, clay’s forte is probably its role as a general internal detoxification and cleansing agent. According to Keith Payne of White Rock Mineral Corporation in Springville, Utah, clay scrapes and cleans the lining of the colon. “As the colon becomes cleaner, its ability to absorb minerals and other nutrients increases, making the minerals even more bioavailable, thus giving more energy.”
White Rock’s clay, called Bentonite Minerals, contains 71 trace and ultra-trace minerals, including many that are probably unknown to most consumers, such as ruthenium, tellurium, and thulium. Trace minerals enable the body to absorb nutrients—“they are the bonding agents in and between you and food,” explains Payne.
Bentonite Minerals are derived from an ancient seabed formation in Utah; according to geologists, the clay formed when a layer of volcanic ash fell into what was, long ago, a shallow inland sea. “As the ash filtered through the seawater, it collected pure minerals, forming a layer of highly mineralized clay,” says Payne.
The best way to drink clay is on an empty stomach, or at least an hour before or after a meal or immediately before sleeping at night. Typically, clay is available as a thick tasteless, pale-grey gel, but it also comes as a powder or encapsulated.
Generally, it is advisable to start with one tablespoon daily, mixed with a small amount of juice; observe the results for a week, then gradually increase the dosage to no more than four tablespoons daily, in divided doses. Drinking clay can be an annual spring cleaning of your gastrointestinal tract or it can be a symptom-focused, self-care method.
So – if you have been naughty – and only the truly naughty know what I mean – drink some bentonite. Pay for your dark deeds with a little drinkable flagellation – it’s much more gentle and healthy than a barbed whip! And for the angels out there – like me – a little cup of volcanic ash will wipe away some of the naughty messes created by others.