By Kathleen Christ, LMT, NCMBT

Native Americans call bentonite "ee-wha-kee", meaning "the mud that heals".

It is a natural and inexpensive tool that has been proven safe and effective for healing a variety of ailments.

Parrots and macaws that live in the Amazon rain forests regularly gather to excavate and ingest certain clays that are deposited along river banks. The regular diet of these birds is tree seeds that contain natural toxins that the trees produce to ensure propagation and survival of their species. The clays that the birds eat act as buffers, protecting them from the ill effects of the seeds' toxins. Their human counterparts are the Pomo Indians of California who eat, as a staple food, acorns that contain a bitter-tasting toxin. By adding clay to the acorns, they avoid both the bitter taste and the poison.

Clay has been used throughout civilization to promote health and healing. The ancient Egyptians were the first to use clay cosmetically to improve the health of the skin by applying facial masks and taking clay baths. French sailors consumed clay to prevent and cure dysentery, a bacterial infection of the intestines. People from many cultures have applied clay directly on themselves and their animals as a poultice to draw out infections in open wounds.

Certain healing clays are able to extract heavy metals, radioactive elements and many other toxins such as pesticides from the body. These clays, technically known as smectites, are formed from weathered deposits of volcanic ash. In Europe they are called montmorillonite clays after Mont Morillon, France where they are found. In the United States commercial deposits are mined near Ft. Benton, Wyoming and are therefore known as bentonite clays. The structure of bentonite is such that when it is hydrated, it swells, and the plate-like particles of clay open up, creating a large porous network that can absorb other substances like a sponge soaks up water. Aditionally, these clay particles have a negative electrical charge that allows them to absorb positively-charged heavy metals and hold on to them like a magnet. These properties make bentonite an ideal substance for cleaning up toxic wastes internally and externally.

Following the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in 1986, Russian soldiers passed out chocolate bars that contained French Green Clay. Consuming this clay helped people absorb and eliminate the radioactive materials in their bodies. A similar approach worked for Russian farmers who fed their contaminated cattle grain mixed with bentonite clay. After a period of time they were able to legally market their cattle, once the radioactivity in their bodies had been reduced to acceptable levels.

Eighty percent of detoxification is processed through the liver. Ingested bentonite clays absorb toxins that the liver has processed for elimination and deposited into the small intestines.

The clay electromagnetically binds the toxins making sure that they are not reabsorbed into the bloodstream before being excreted. Make certain that the clay you choose for ingesting is edible, because some bentonite clays are intended for external use only. It's best to consume the clay between meals so it doesn't interfere with digestion.

Clay baths, designed to pull toxins out of the body, can easily be administered at home. A few cups of dry bentonite clay powder are stirred into a hot bath. A person simply lies in the bath for twenty minutes and the mud draws the toxins out through the pores of the skin. Sometimes a dark sludge containing these poisons will settle in the bottom of the tub. Soaking just your feet in a foot bath that contains a smaller amount of clay can also draw out significant amounts of toxins.