By Kresha Faber, Contributing Writer
This post contains affiliate links.
So let me state for the record that I am officially crackers. I let my kids eat dirt.
And not only that, I make sure they eat dirt.
Okay, okay – it’s not just any dirt, although I will argue that eating dirt while they play can actually be quite a healthy thing, the dirt to which I am referring is mineral-rich clay. And not just any clay at that, but bentonite clay, a clay known for its excellent ability to detox heavy metals from the body and promote healing both internally and externally.
It’s known as “the clay of a thousand uses,” but as a mother of three young children, I find it especially handy for ten specific reasons.
No matter how healthily we eat or how healthily we feed our children, our bodies have to deal with a lot of junk. Environmental toxins exist all around us – and all we can do is minimize our exposure.
While our livers, kidneys, and lymphatic systems are still working hard to move those toxins out of our systems, they’re often overwhelmed, so the toxins get stored around the body, causing weakness, lack of energy, feeling foggy, and the inability to lose weight. Thus, we need a way to flush those toxins and usher them safely out of our body.
Clay works wonderfully for this because the small particles of clay are electrically charged and act both as a sponge and a magnet, pulling heavy metal particles to themselves and holding on to them as they leave the body.
2. Prevent heavy metal residue
We are surrounded these days by warnings not to eat mercury-laden fish. However, this also presents us with a dilemma because most of those fish are also rich sources of the omega-3 fats that our bodies so desperately need, but mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin, as well as children’s behavior can be affected by heavy metals left in their bodies. Pregnant women, especially, need to be very aware of their mercury intake.
So, how can we eat beneficial fish without the toxic effect of the mercury? We eat it with a chelator, namely clay or chlorella! I’ve taken to adding a tablespoon of bentonite clay along with the mayonnaise when I make tuna fish salad, and since our clay is very fine, no one has noticed any difference in texture. You can also take clay capsules along with your meal or add chlorella to a smoothie.
3. Heal and protect baby bums
Clay is also excellent to heal skin, especially sensitive skin, like a baby’s bottom. When clay is dry, it is hydrophilic – water-loving. Therefore, it draws moisture to itself. In the case of a baby’s bum, this gives wonderful relief for an already-existent rash or helps prevent rashes in the first place, especially on babies that have lovely rolls of baby fat and lots of folds where moisture can get trapped.
4. Stop itching and stinging from bug bites and bee stings
Summertime = bug bites. And bug bites are itchy.
Clay both soothes and draws out impurities, which is why even commercial calamine lotions use clay in their formulas! Of course, you can make your own homemade calamine lotion, too, or just mix clay powder and water into a poultice to smear on the itchy spots. Redmond Clay also has a ready-mixed tube of clay if you don’t want to take the time to mix your own. (And no, that’s not an affiliate link – we just love Redmond Clay!)
And when a child gets a bee sting, smear a bit of hydrated clay on the sting and let it dry – the drying action will pull out any remaining bee venom and help the wound heal more quickly. Or you can mix it with activated charcoal and make a drawing salve that works nicely.
5. Clean teeth
Clay gentles polishes teeth and is an effective, mineral-rich, alkaline dental cleanser. It’s also a great flouride-free toothpaste, whether you purchase a commercial clay toothpaste or make your own. It’s also an important ingredient in remineralizing tooth powder.
I especially like using clay toothpaste with my young children who are just learning to brush their teeth, as I don’t have to worry about them swallowing the toothpaste. If they swallow clay toothpaste, it’s actually beneficial!
6. Heal itching from nettles, chicken pox, eczema, etc.
Adding clay to a bath is a great way to reduce itching, just as oatmeal or baking soda does. The difference is that the clay will actually draw out any substances that are causing the itch in addition to providing a soothing feeling. Just be careful to not add too much clay or you can trigger a systemic detox, which can lead to headaches, irritability, and other unwanted side effects, especially in children. About 1/4 – 1/2 cup of clay in a warm bath should be just about right.
Read how to take a detox bath.
7. Relieve and heal burns
Clay soothes and promotes healing for minor burns, as well, which for children can be especially welcome. In this case there aren’t toxins to draw out, per se, so keep the clay wet to maximize the soothing effect. Merely smear a thick layer of hydrated clay over the burn and wrap it with plastic wrap, gauze, or cheesecloth to keep it from drying out.
8. Relieve diarrhea and sore tummies (including morning sickness and acid reflux during pregnancy!)
Clay can restore balance in a number of ways to an upset stomach or GI tract. It can help diarrhea and constipation become more “regular” (except in cases of severe constipation), it can ease little tummies that are complained of being “owwie,” and it is an excellent digestive aid for stomach issues, such as ulcers, nausea, and acid reflux. We even use it with our daughter, who is prone to car sickness. And in small doses, it’s good for pregnant women who want to alleviate morning sickness, avoid acid reflux, and safely deal with other illness. (Oh, joy of joys!)
This is especially good when a toddler is fighting a stomach bug and you’re fearing dehydration due to the inability to keep any liquid down – it is quite possible that by slowly giving small amounts of clay, the stomach and gut can experience a bit of relief long enough to take in water or other sustenance.
Dr. Weston A. Price, in his book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” reported that several native cultures, including those in the Andes, Central Africa, and Australia, consumed clays in various ways, most often carrying balls of dried clay with them as they traveled and dissolving a small amount of the clay in water with meals to prevent poisoning from any toxins present.
And just to illustrate clay’s effective properties when dealing with stomach bugs and infectious disease, there is even anecdotal evidence that clay was used to treat cholera and the Plague.
9. Protect from infection on cuts and scrapes (and clear internal infections, like mastitis)
Every mama wants to have something quick and easy to apply to the cuts and scrapes that inevitably come with a child who is living life to the fullest (that is, who is outside exploring, discovering, and playing to the max). A well-stocked natural first aid kit is a blessing!
Applying a thick smear of hydrated clay over cuts and scrapes will help prevent infection, thus promoting quicker healing as well. Just keep it covered, both to protect the wound and to keep it from drying out.
And due to clay’s ability to draw toxins out, it’s also an excellent home remedy for mastitis, where the breastmilk needs to be drawn out of the inflamed area. Merely mix clay and water to create a thick poultice and apply as needed every 1-2 hours until the infection is gone. In this case, you want to let the clay dry, as that is what creates the “pulling” action.
10. Beauty treatment
We mamas are often well aware of how our bodies show the proud signs of age, childbearing, and breastfeeding, so anything we can do to “feel pretty” is much treasured. Here are a few ways I like to use clay in this regard:
Using a clay facial mask will soften skin, draw out impurities (like blackheads), and smooth wrinkles.
Clay can smooth skin and reduce itching after shaving. Just rub dry clay over the shaved area.
Clay detoxifies the scalp for lustrous hair. Just mix clay and water into a thick paste and rub vigorously into the scalp. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then rinse well. Repeat at least once a week.
And you can even use it in homemade make-up!