Healing by Clay

March 27, 2015

Whether you want to detox, recover faster from illness or simply feel better, adding bentonite clay to your diet and skincare routine may offer big health and beauty benefits.

While the human body is naturally designed to eliminate toxins via the colon, lungs, skin, lymphatic system, kidneys and liver, the modern sedentary lifestyle often means we’re storing toxins instead of releasing them.

Meanwhile, the clean foods of our ancestors have been replaced by ready-to-go highly processed fare, often laced with pesticides and synthetic additives such as preservatives to ensure long shelf life. Ridding these toxins without adequate fresh water intake and regular movement (that produces perspiration) becomes a difficult task for the hard-working elimination system. With such constant burden on the body, it has become essential to give it a helping hand to rid itself of chemicals and substances that hinder optimal health.

While used by cultures throughout the ages, therapeutic clays such as bentonite have only recently re-entered popular consciousness, as people begin to look for ways to assist regular cleansing and detoxification. Animals have also long consumed clays during illness and stress, instinctively turning to nature’s medicine to pull toxins out of the body.

Toxins Out, Nutrition In

“Bentonite Clay has a very profound affect of absorbing chemicals such as aluminium and mercury, pesticides, herbicides and heavy toxic metals,” says holistic health coach Tyler Tolman, who uses the clay in his healing and detoxification programs at his Bali health retreat, as well as in his at-home Colon Cleanse remedy ( “It leeches it out of your body into your colon and then binds with the fibre, therefore enabling your body to release the many different toxins out your backdoor.”

Formed from the breakdown of volcanic ash, scientifically, bentonite is said to produce an electrical charge when mixed with water. It’s this charge that helps the clay pull impurities, chemicals and toxins such as heavy metals from the body.

Also known as Montmorillonite, bentonite clay was named after Fort Benton in Wyoming, USA, where the largest known deposit of bentonite has been found. While it is known for pulling impurities from the body, it’s also revered for adding in essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, silica and sodium.

While some of the world’s most ancient cultures have relied on clays for detoxification and healing, in modern day it’s often recommended for digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, gas and reflux, while helping alleviate allergies and skin conditions. It’s also a medicine cabinet staple for those who heal more quickly after bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea.

However, it’s important to use a non-metal spoon when preparing the mixture for internal and external use, as metal utensils are said to negate the cleansing and detoxifying properties of the clay.

Beauty Benefits

Professional salons know well the beauty benefits of bentonite and other healing clays, using a mix of clay and water as facemasks to pull impurities from the skin. Yet, there are also other topical uses that can easily be tried at home:

• Apply a paste of bentonite clay to help heal pimples and try it on insect bites, burns, scrapes and skin itches;
• Add approximately one quarter of a cup of bentonite clay to a warm bath to help detox while smoothing the skin;
• Use as a mouthwash (approximately one teaspoon of clay in half a cup of water) to eradicate cavity-forming bad bacteria. It may also help to remineralise teeth.


Natural beauty brands are also incorporating bentonite clay into products such as soaps and masks.


What to look for

As with any supplement, it’s important to seek the best quality clay, which has a pH level of 8.7 or higher and is odourless, tasteless and has a soft, powdery texture with no grit. Buying bentonite from reputable companies is highly recommended—such as those who disclose mineral analysis data and provide a certified lab microbial test.

Healing clays may also minimise effectiveness of medications and aren’t advised for those suffering high blood pressure, as when taken internally, they may cause a temporary spike in pressure. Those with iron intolerance shouldn’t use clays without medical supervision. Clay can also be a lung irritant in some people, if inhaled.

Shannon Dunn is a wellness writer and eco beauty editor. Sign up for her newsletter at

  • Margot
    March 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    This is great – I was just reading about how toxins literally bind to the clay and then get excreted. I also am experimenting with a couple of different Bentonite clay masks right now – and they are good, and leave my skin really soft!

    • Shannon
      March 29, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      Great Margot! What’s your favourite natural brand? Feel free to post a link in the comments if you do a review on your blog x

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