Healing Clay – An Ancient Natural Medicine
Miriam Wiegele - www.miriamwiegele.at
Throughout recorded history the healing power of earth has been used to cure various ailments. Famous doctors such as Hippocrates, Hildegard of Bingen and Paraclesus have all recommended such remedies. In the Middle Ages such treatments were important elements of the Dreckapotheke, along with such favourite remedies as urine. Then such natural cures were lost from memory until they were rediscovered by a Protestant Pastor named Felke who healed people with light, air, water and earth. Father Kneipp, a Catholic Priest, said that loam/clay is the best of all remedies and used it as a poultice to treat venous inflammation, joint conditions and ulcers.
Healing clay for internal and external cleaning
Carnival is an especially good time to start using healing clay – with this mask you can clean and regenerate tired skin. Used internally healing clay helps to clean the entire digestive tract; a good practice not only when fasting.
Healing clay is such an easy to use healing remedy, with no danger or side effects, that it's especially suited for self administration. Healing clay can be found at the apothecary or pharmacy in the dietary supplement section under various names: clay, earth, green mineral clay, green loam from Argiletz (France), and also yellow, pink and red loam (the colour depends on the minerals contained, for example the red had iron). Usually white healing clay is called Bolus albus (ask for it at your pharmacy, though it's actually kaolin). Be warned – this type will not combine with water and so forms clumps in the bowel. In addition, healing clays are available in various levels of fineness, so it's usually best to ask for advice when you're buying.
What is healing clay?
One normally thinks of healing clay as a type of loess. This substance was created during the last ice age when large areas of the Earth were covered in thick sheets of ice. These massive ice sheets ground boulders and rocks into fine pebbles. Wind and water erosion further reduced the size of the particles – eventually to dust-sized grains.
The exact make-up of the healing clay depends on the location. Depending on the source, healing clay can contain 45% quartz, feldspar, calcite, dolomite, mica and montmorillonite. It contains minerals like silicon, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, aluminium and sodium, and in addition a few particular trace elements like chrome, sulphur, zirkonium, strontium and vanadium. Healing clays can be used internally and externally.
How healing clay works
Healing clay has a high absorptive capacity, which means that binds to gases, fluids and toxins. Healing clays are suitable for external and internal use.
Internally, the healing clay is absorbent, antibacterial, high in pH (i.e. basic), rich in minerals and high in fibre, and because of it's high-fibre nature it also massages the intestines.
• Healing clay binds bacteria and their poisonous waste products and leaves the natural gut flora unharmed. It absorbs harmful digestive gases. It's recommended in the treatment of gastrointestinal inflammation as well as acute infections. It's also used to treat gas and diarrhoea.
• Healing clay helps to maintain the acid/alkaline (pH) balance in the stomach. It functions to balance the normal physiology, binding only the excessive acid. In contrast to antacids (used to treat an acidic stomach), it does not completely neutralise the acid – it simply regulates the normal acid production of the stomach.
• Healing clay binds excessive gall bladder acids as well as the "bad" LDL cholesterol in the intestines, a demonstrated by research.
• Through the high content of minerals and trace elements, most importantly silica, the healing clay helps in the making of fascia and connective tissue.
• The very small particles in healing clay micro-massage the stomach and intestines and cause no damage. This increases the production of digestive fluids. Drinking healing clay with a lot of water acts as a fibre. The clay solution increases the size of intestinal contents making them easier to pass in the stool. Note that if healing clay leads to constipation, you're not drinking enough water. If that's the case, you should discontinue using the healing clay if higher fluid intake does not resolve the problem.
• Healing clay should not be used if taking medication as the clay can bind to substances in the medication.
For internal use
Concentrated healing clay drink: Mix 2 teaspoons with ¼ litre lukewarm water and stir thoroughly. This dosage is for one day and should be drunk in 2 or 3 parts. Remember to always stir again before drinking.
Mild healing clay drink: As above, but don't stir before drinking. The sediment then stays at the bottom – the water contains the water soluble mineral content.
• Drink the healing clay slowly. Use it mornings on an empty stomach, in the afternoon an hour before your evening meal, and at night just before going to bed.
• You can gargle the healing clay solution for sore throat and bad breath.
• Healing clay also helps in cases of acute poisoning: drink the concentrated solution all at once. Remember to immediately seek medical attention and/or contact the poison control centre in your area.
• It's recommended to take healing clay on tropical vacations. It should be used right away in cases of diarrhoea (three times a day: one teaspoon healing clay mixed with water which has been boiled).
Externally , the healing clay is absorbent, antiseptic, antibacterial, drying, deodorising, regenerative, cools, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-acidic, calming and reduces itching. It has been recommended for abscesses, acne, allergic reactions, joint problems, rheumatism, gout, "wry" or stiff neck, sports injuries, tenosynovitis (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome), bursitis, eczema, skin conditions, infected wounds, improved nail health and also for migraines (when used with an essential oil like mint).
Add enough water to the dry healing clay to make a thick paste.
Cold healing clay wrap/compress:
The cold healing earth paste can either be applied directly to the affected area or applied to a piece of cloth which is then laid on the area. The paste is warmed quickly by the body when applied in such a way. A similar effect can be gained with a cold water bath – external layers of the skin contract and so blood is moved from deeper layers of the skin to re-warm the area. This improved circulation can reduce pain and swelling.
Hot healing clay compress:
As above, but use hot water when preparing the paste and use it while it's as warm as comfort allows. The heated earth clay penetrates the body with wet heat. It's useful wherever there's stiffness and tension, for chronic inflammation and for cramps.
Healing clay pack:
It's normal to either use concentrated healing clay solution or a thin paste – this is painted on the affected area. This thin application allows the skin to better absorb the particles of healing clay and for the healing clay to pull secretions and metabolic waste products from the skin. It also reduces inflammation through the binding of acid, as every inflammation reaction involves acidosis of the connective tissue. This is the only type of application in which the healing clay is allowed to dry completely. In this way, fluid from the body is encouraged to move outwards which has a cleaning effect on infected wounds and reduces swelling. This drawing effect also improves circulation.
Healing clay bath:
Place about a kg of healing clay in the bath. To start, the duration of the bath should be only five to ten minutes and later it can be increased to twenty minutes, and repeated two or three times per week. This improves immune system function, helps with vegetative dysfunction, metabolic problems and vertebral dysfunction.
Dry application of healing clay:
In contrast to common disinfecting wound treatments, healing clay also has a healing effect. It helps to stop bleeding in fresh injuries and scab formation for infected wounds.
More suggested uses for healing clay
• Tooth paste: Add a little salt (good against periodontitis) to boiled water and mix in about 100g ultra-fine healing clay powder, making a creamy paste – add 5 drops of essential oil (like mint or sage), if you like.
• Body powder, foot powder: The healing clay alone can be used, but the addition of essetial oil (5 drops per 100g) is recommended: sage for foot perspiration, lemongrass or lemon if you have to stand a lot. For body powder, just choose a scent you lke, from rose oil to patchoulli. For underarm perspiration, sage is again a good choice.
• Facial mask: Prepare a thick and creamy paste of healing clay. Healing clay alone works well as it penetrates the external layers of the skin, softening thickened skin and freeing the complexion of dead skin particles. The reconstructive ability of the mineral content also comes into play, in particular the silica. This method can be strengthened by using tea instead of water or adding essential oils (lavender to calm, mint or citrus to help with oily skin, geranium or ylang ylang for dry skin. For dry skin, adding a tablespoon of cold-pressed plant oil (avacado, for example) to the mask is recommended.