Clay As a Natural Home Remedy (Yes, Really)

Of all things, did you ever think that I would tell you to go eat some dirt?

Well, mark your calendars. Today’s the day. Stephanie has officially gone off the deep end.

Bizarre as it may sound, clay has actually become one of my favorite go-to remedies for health and healing over this past year. This summer I have been surprised to find myself reaching for clay more and more frequently, as I realize just how useful this “dirt” can be. 

Mind you, this isn’t just any old clay that you can shovel up somewhere. The clay I’m referring to is bentonite clay, and it comes from pure sources of undisturbed deposits in the ground. What is special about bentonite clay is that it has two ways of drawing toxins out of the body.

I’m going to get very practical in a moment, sharing exactly how I’ve been using clay in our home, but first I think it’s helpful to understand just a little bit of the science behind how and why clay works.

1. Adsorption

This isn’t a typo. The word is aD-sorption, not aB-sorption. They are two different things (more about absorption in a minute). Although I understand this concept, I’m not much of a scientist, so I’m going to borrow this helpful explanation of what adsorption is and how it relates to clay:

At a molecular level, the formation of bentonite resembles tiny business card shapes with the wide surfaces having a negative charge and the thin edges having a positive charge. Nature hates a lonely ionic bond, so each negatively charged ion seeks to satisfy its bond by pairing with a substance carrying a positive ionic charge. As luck would have it, many toxins, heavy metals, and free radicals carry a positive charge. The negative ions in Redmond Clay are eager to attach to these toxins, swapping negative ions for positive, and creating a bond that keeps the toxin and clay together in suspension until the body eliminates the pair together.

If you’re a visual thinker, it’s a reasonably accurate metaphor to imagine Redmond Clay as a magnet, and toxins as little bits of metal. Once the two become paired, it’s simple for your body to dispose of the magnet, and the metal bits along with it. (source)

Who knew, right? Amazing!

2. Absorption

This is the word we’re more familiar with, and of course, it’s natural to think of how a sponge absorbs water. Clay does essentially the same thing, absorbing not only water, but also other harmful substances like toxins, infection, etc.

Due to its capacity for absorbing, you need to avoid using clay internally at the same time as other medications or supplements, because it can interfere with their use by (what else?) absorbing them. It’s best used alone.

Additionally, clay has one more thing going for it when it comes to natural healing…

3. pH

We all know that pH is a measure of acidity, and with a pH of around 8.7-9.8 (at least, this is the pH of Redmond clay, it would vary slightly from clay to clay), that makes it on the alkaline side.

Alkalinity is a useful thing, because many health problems in the body arise due to acidity, and clay is able to neutralize that acidity. This is particularly helpful for ailments like heartburn, because the clay can neutralize the excess stomach acid that is causing the discomfort.

Phew… now that we understand the basics of how clay functions, allow me to share some practicaul uses for it.

8 Ways That Our Family Uses Clay as a Natural Remedy

Insect stings and bites

I discovered firsthand this summer that a bit of hydrated clay on a mosquito bite helps to relieve the itching and swelling quickly.

We also found out last winter that it helps with spider bites. My husband noticed a fairly large spider living in the light on our deck. He took a long stick and tried to knock the spider out. The spider dropped itself down on its thread and I wish I had filmed this little man vs. spider duel! They literally lunged at each other back and forth until my husband succeeded in knocking it out of the light, but not before the spider gave him a good bite on the arm. It didn’t appear to be a particularly poisonous spider, but nonetheless, the bites do hurt and it was swelling up. We slathered the bite in clay and within a short period of time, the pain had subsided and the swelling went down.

On the subject of stings and bites, a product that has proved SO useful to me this summer are the tubes of hydrated clay from Redmond. When I first saw them I thought “why don’t I just mix it up myself? It’s only powder and water.” And I can do that, and yes, it’s pretty easy. But squeezing it straight from a tube when I need it quickly is just so darn easy, I find myself using clay more frequently as a result.

Stomach problems

This is probably the most common way that our family uses clay. Whenever one of us complains about an upset or sour stomach, this is what we take. You can either put the powder into capsules (or even buy capsules pre-made, but I just make my own), or you can liquify the clay and drink a spoonful or two (this is easiest for kids). You know that yucky feeling you get when you eat something that’s gone bad, or your stomach just has an out-of-sorts day? Clay really helps to absorb whatever is bugging you.

I’ve even used it when I’ve had what was probably mild food poisoning that kept me up in the night with stomach cramps, and within 30 minutes it helped to start calming my stomach down so that I could go back to sleep.

As I mentioned above, the alkalinity of clay also makes it helpful for heartburn or reflux.

Another interesting way to use clay is for prevention of digestive issues. When I first began learning about clay, I instantly remembered reading in Weston Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration how the indigenous peoples in the Andes mountains would keep small balls of clay with them and dissolve just a bit of clay in water. As they ate a meal, they would dip their food in this slightly clay-ish water to prevent indigestion!

When we went to the Philippines, I was very careful about what I ate and drank, but I also took liquid clay just in case every morning, to help prevent any foreign bacteria or pathogens from taking up residence in my system while I was there. I have no idea if I would have gotten sick otherwise, but it seemed like a wise bit of prevention.

Detoxifying

This was what first intrigued me about clay. I read Shoshanna’s story of detoxing in a bath full of Bentonite clay, and then began reading stories of others who used clay to detox on the About Clay website. When I later read the free clay ebook from Redmond Clay, I stumbled upon this idea of detoxifying with clay yet again.

When you understand the adsorption and absorption qualities that I wrote about at the beginning of this post, it becomes clear how detoxification happens. Taking clay internally can literally help to pull toxins, heavy metals, and free radical cells out of the body, cleansing it. We also know that skin is the largest organ in our body, and that what we put on it goes into the body, so it stands to follow that when we use clay externally, it can also pull toxins out through the skin as well.

On cuts and scrapes

Clay works perfectly for drawing out the dirt and grime that gets in cuts and especially in children’s scraped knees and elbows. It calms down the pain and because it cleans the wound, it encourages faster and better healing. Our tube of First Aid clay has become what our children know as “owie cream”.

For beautiful skin

Ok, so this isn’t a remedy per se, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. Clay makes a fabulous facial mask, for shrinking pores, tightening and toning skin, removing impurities, sloughing off dead skin cells, and just making your skin look and feel great overall. It can also be used directly on pimples to reduce their size and inflammation and get rid of them faster.

For drawing out infections

Though I chose to use activated charcoal, I could have easily used clay in its place when healing my son’s infection. Clay, like charcoal, has that same ability to draw out toxins and harmful bacteria.

I did use clay this past week on my daughter’s lip when she cut it open badly with her teeth. The doctor said it probably should have had stitches (although it was too late at that point) and he recommended oral antibiotics to prevent infection as it was beginning to look at bit red. Instead, I just put hydrated clay on the outside of the lip, put some herbal healing salve on the inside, and had her swish with salt water a couple times a day. It’s healing just fine now with no sign of infection.

For burns

Clay is soothing and healing to the skin when used on minor kitchen burns, sunburns, etc. Now, I haven’t used it on any serious burns to date (although I have read testimonies of others who have with success), so I can’t personally say more than that, but there are some very interesting stories in this free ebook. The one recommendation is that clay should not be allowed to dry on a burn, but should be kept wet (used as a paste or gel, and then wrapped in something like plastic to keep it from drying out).

Clay baths

These are useful for detoxification, as I already mentioned, but also for times when the skin needs soothing. I have used them frequently for my toddler’s eczema. Once a week baths with clay seem to help keep the eczema to a minimum (although it is the dietary changes that make the most difference), but the clay reduces the itchiness a lot and helps her not to scratch at it.

I also give one of my sons a clay bath once a week because his body doesn’t seem to flush toxins very well. If I forget to give him the clay baths for several weeks, I can sometimes begin to tell by his behaviors and reactions to situations, which I used to observe in him frequently back when his body was more toxic (before we did a major detoxification with him). When he is regularly using the clay, I don’t usually notice those same strong behaviours.

I know, these are both anecdotal and not scientific at all, but moms notice these sorts of things. Not to mention, using clay in baths gets expensive because you use larger amounts than in other types of applications, and so if I wasn’t’ seeing results, I would put an end to the clay baths.

we eat clay 150x150

Want to learn more about using clay, both internally and externally?

I know that I’ve given you a lot of ideas and suggestions, but it’s important to read more on your own to better understand how clay works, how it has historically been used for medicinal purposes, how to mix or prepare it for various types of internal and external uses, etc.

Redmond Clay has put together a free book called We Eat Clay (And Wear it, too!). It’s a fascinating read!

I’m curious… has anyone else tried using clay as a home remedy? How have you used it and what have you found it to be helpful for?

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Redmond Clay. Although I have researched, purchased and used clay on my own accord prior to working with Redmond, they have also provided me with their clay products for the purpose of review. Redmond sponsored me to write a post that had something to do with clay, but this post came from my own experiences and opinions about the use of clay.
Top image from Pink Dandy Chatter
Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the great information! I’ve been hearing people talking about clay recently, and bought some today for my daughter who has eczema…looking forward to using it and hopefully seeing some good results!

  2. Janice Greenwood says:

    When is the best time to drink Redmond clay? To clear toxin in the digestive system.
    Thank you so much

  3. Clay is amazing! Not only do I get immediate and very noticeable results using clay as a mask on my face but we use it as one of our top first aid products. After finding out the hard way our girls have food intolerances that result in eczema, we use clay in the bath and mixed with coconut oil as a salve. Within days of a flare up, their skin was completely clear. Now they have the softest skin I have ever felt! After reading this article I am going to make some clay pills and take every evening to clear up sensitivities internally for myself. Great article, thank you!

  4. Where do you purchase your capsules? Are they vegan? Do you put hydrated clay in the capsules or powder?

  5. Kara mawdesley says:

    I have an autoimmune disease called Raynauds. My body over reeacts to cold and goes into hypothermia. I had the worst cause possible and my finger began to ulcerate(rot off!) A functional doctor saved it with a silver wrap and silvacide but my second attack was not cured from the silver, I tried the clay and it worked!! Clay saved my finger, it brought the blood back and I truly feel my finger would have been amputated if not for the clay!

  6. Love it! Thanx :)

  7. Stephanie, when you say avoid taking clay and other supplements or medications at the same time, do you mean in the same moment or will it suffice to space the taking out by several hours?

  8. This was really interesting thank you. I have an Aunt who is Native American and was born along the trap lines in Canada, when she was a little girl she had an accident and one of her feet got cut on the side to the bone. Since they were in the middle of no where with no medical care available, her mother packed her foot with clay, and continued to do so until it healed. It seemed like a weird thing to do when she told me the story but I guess it was a traditional healing technique for their people and it prevented any infection and today (60 years later) she can walk fine. Now I understand a bit better why it worked. You never now when natural remedies will be needed :)

  9. How long does it take to remove toxins out of you’re body

  10. I make an ointment using 2 parts Bentonite Clay and 1 part Diatomaceous Earth. The trick is to put some lotion (like Aveeno) and water in a small container (first) very important, then mix adding a little more water as needed. The mud will try and climb out of the container so I put my hand around the top and stir rigorously and adding only a little water until desired mud consistency. When done scrape off the mud from fingers and push down the mud into container. I recently gave some to a friend who has been suffering from two running sores on his leg. He’s been to the healing clinic for over a year! But when I gave him the mud it was just two days later he was very excited about what he had seen. It has been helping the sores to heal. I think using both the Clay and DE have a very powerful one two punch. I would recommend this for anyone with skin sores and infections. Hope this helps someone.

  11. I am interested in detoxing…. both my husband & i as well as my 2 and 4 year old. What is the best/safest way to do this?? I am currently breastfeeding the 2 year old and will likely have another one in a year or so…. so I know my options may be limited or nonexistent. Any thoughts?

    Also, is earthpaste safe during pregnancy & breastfeeding?

  12. I’ve suffered with IBS for years, and it’s gotten worse, to the point where I avoid traveling, and always have bathrooms planned out ahead of time, which is very frustrating and depressing at times with 4 kids. I’ve tried many things including colonoscopies, chiropractice, and accupuncture. Going to give this a try…hoping it works and I can get my life back!

    • Teri — you can also try kefir… read about it.. google “kefir and IBS” and if you make your own, it is super cheap, and if you sweeten it with STevia, it tastes delicious. Good luck. I do clay but also do kefir.

  13. Do you or any of your readers have any experience with Molluscum and getting rid of it? I’d love to know what people have used and what’s been successful.

  14. I used bentonite with psyllium husk powder for a colon cleanse yeas ago. I really liked it. But couldn’t get it anymore at that place. Am glad for your post. Not I need to find a place to get it again. Thanks.

  15. I’ve been interested in this and just found it yesterday at the local feed store (strange place but maybe because it is utah?) My son had a scratch from daycare that looked red and I made a poultice and he said – happily – that feels soft. And it does! Now I just have to figure out how to get I’m to drink some, he was NOT interested in that as he seems to get sick often and I want to see if this helps. I’m going to try to make toothpaste as they didn’t have that and use it for our dog who has severe allergies and I haven’t found a food that he likes and it doesn’t make his allergies flare up. So how much do you put in a bath? That book said 2.5 lb but I just have the little tub do you think a little is better then none? Say 1/4 cup?

    • I have sometimes used up to 1/2 or 1 cup for my children’s bath, but usually I just use a 1/4 of a cup, because it would get very expensive to use more than that. If it’s for an adult, I might want to use more like a 1/2 cup on a regular basis, but again, you’re right that some is better than none. I think if you’re looking to do a faster, heavier detox, then you really would want to use more like 1-2 cups of clay, maybe even more, but that’s for more extreme times than an everyday bath.

  16. I’ve read a lot about bentonite clay, and have been wanting to try it, but it just hasn’t been on the top of the priority list. After reading everything here, I’m going to put it in the budget for September! :) Excited to try it on a little rash on my ring finger that I cannot get rid of. Thanks for the info, everyone! Especially you, Steph!

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