The following is a comment/response answer to an insightful post by FringeScientist on the Curezone Forum questioning the trustworthiness of clay baths.
The post was made close to 8 years ago. Someone else recently found the post and asked me about it, since at the end I am mentioned personally in the post.
The comments from FringeScientist, in my opinion, are valid and deserve to be answered in a forthright manner. Because his comments address several legitimate questions posed by others, I feel the comments provide an excellent platform for answering them for anyone who has questioned the safety of clays.
From over 15 years of personal experience with Sacred Clay and other clays, I have been able to observe the power of Mother Nature in these natural resources and respect the wise use of them internally, externally, as well as in the garden.
After speaking with thousands of people regarding the use of clay in their diet and detox programs, along with a daily interaction with the clays personally, much has been learned.
The subject itself is not unexplored in scientific literature either. Some of these findings are referenced below.
So I will attempt to address the comments made by FringeScientist for the benefit of any who may have similar questions.
Each subject discussed has been preceded with an added topic heading to make it easier for new readers to find the answer to their own questions.
Topics in this article include:
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FS Comment: I was attracted to the idea of the clay bath as a safe easy way to get lead out of my system, but once I started using clay baths at home problems emerged for which there were no warnings given in the various commercial healing clay sites (with one exception).
Clay baths are promoted as a means of detoxification through the skin that bypasses the organs of elimination, thus sparing them the stress of eliminating these toxins. This is what happens if you do clay baths at long intervals, but if you do too many baths at short intervals you reach a tipping point where metabolic acids and man made toxins are continuously released into the blood stream. This is uncomfortable and potentially harmfully because the mild acidosis that results can destroy proteins and damage organs. Once this happens the experience is like being on a train you cannot off because you are compelled to have another bath to remove these acids from the blood and feel normal. Feeling normal does not last long, and you are compelled to have more clay baths every time acidosis reoccurs.
Response: The author (FS) is correct about the potential dangers of detoxing too much, too fast, especially in cases of individuals who have been exposed to high levels of medical & industrial chemicals, hormone replacement, and/or metallic toxins.
While not all toxins produce an acidic condition in the body, the viral pathogens that feed on these chemicals and metals in the body do produce an acidic waste that can make returning to an alkaline state very difficult, if not impossible, unless a toxin absorption measure such as clay, humate, or charcoal is employed.
Detox symptoms are the sign that the body’s eliminative organs are struggling with trying to keep up with the toxic release and have fallen behind. This situation can be dangerous and needs to be carefully weighed prior to embarking on any detox protocol.
The greatest challenge comes from man made toxins – chemicals and industrially created metals, both “heavy” & light. [Yes, not all metals are heavy (re: aluminum), and not all metals are harmful; (re: copper, iron, monatomics, etc.).
Metals can also be extremely therapeutic, or simply unavailable for absorption when provided in proper amounts, and in a proper molecular configuration based on the metal (whether it is in a bonded compound with or without a free electron charge, or in a macro mineral, trace mineral, or monatomic state).
Industrially created metals and chemicals are almost always toxic and harmful. There are a few exceptions in the nutraceutical world when consumed in moderation (like with monatomics/ormus), or in very limited therapeutic applications for brief periods (i.e., acute magnesium, sodium, or potassium deficiency that needs to be quickly addressed in a crisis, preferably taken along with a complex nutrient source, like clay, sea salt, nutritive herbs, or sea vegetables to provide an array of balancing nutrients).
Beyond a few brief therapeutic applications, most nutrients, especially minerals and metals, need to be consumed in whole earthen sources created and balanced by Nature.
Mineral nutrients are more critically dependent on one another in ways that demand strict attention to ratios and the compound source, a science that is barely being understood today by natural and medical institutions, yet Nature has been using now for billions of years.
We do not live in the same world of 100 years ago. Thousands of new chemicals are introduced into our environment every year. Industrial chemicals & metals contaminate our water, our farms, our food, our medicines, and our air like the world has never seen.
Some of these chemicals and metals can cause serious harm when purged too fast.
During a cleansing fast or detox protocol your liver is typically the first organ that is tasked with managing all of the toxins being released.
When the liver gets overloaded toxins are encapsulated in bile fluids and sent through the bowels, passed off in the blood to the kidneys to be eliminated via the urine, or delivered to the lymphatic system to be stored in the subcutaneous fat beneath the skin until resources in the body are sufficient enough to eliminate them effectively; or sunlight, exercise, and sweat purge them from the skin surface.
If toxin release into the bile, blood, and lymph system gets excessive, and gets ahead of the liver's ability to recapture those toxins to protect your health, then harm to the brain, blood, nerves, and organs, followed by reabsorption into other locations of the body, can take place.
This holds true for the use of clay, infrared saunas, infrared lights, intermittent and extended fasting, water fasting, dry fasting, juice fasting, detoxifying herbs, liver flushes, and anything else that will stir up toxins in the body or purge the liver faster than your liver and eliminative organs can isolate or remove the free-floating toxins from the body.
A potent detox of the liver can push so many toxins into the bloodstream that the brain, organs, glands, and nerves can be severely impacted. A recent case in point was in the use of an infrared light over the liver for only 15 minutes resulting is several serious neurological conditions.
What this points to is the importance of several methods applied simultaneously in a judicious manner, to get toxins out of the body at the same speed that the toxins are being released by the body.
These may include clay shower slurries, clay baths, clay body wraps, internal use of clay, humate, and charcoal, the use of clay packs on the liver and abdomen, infrared or steam/dry sauna for sweat therapy, lymph massage, mini tramp work, laxative therapy, herbal nutritives and circulatory stimulants, diaphoretic (sweat promoting) herbs, foods that promote glutathione presence, sunlight, grounding, etc.
It also points to the importance of going no faster than what your unique body condition is able to process in the same day.
Purging everything at once is not the goal. A gradual program that utilizes each method in a way that keeps pace with what is getting stirred up, so detox reactions are not experienced, is the real objective.
Liver cleanses, cleansing fasts, dry fasting, or intensive juice fasting, especially with fruit or beet juice, accelerates toxin release all the more.
Raw veggies, veggie juices, and cooked food are known to stop a detox reaction from cleansing too fast.
Apples are also famous for helping the liver process toxins more efficiently.
Clay taken internally absorbs toxic material, neutralizing the material with a mineral to metal, or mineral to chemical molecule, bonding action (typical of common chelation processes).
When too many toxins leave their hiding places in the liver, other organs, or tissues, and are not removed completely through the lymph, bowels, sweat glands, or urine, they will redeposit themselves in other areas of the body, unless preventative measures are taken (like absorptive clays).
The liver will make every effort to recapture the toxic material and tuck them inside again for the safer, gradual release when the body has sufficient nutrients to work with that are able to neutralize the toxins or push them out through the eliminative channels.
Clay shower slurries and clay baths are gentle and safe for most, although either approach may need to be shortened in duration to match each person’s ability to handle the magnetic draw of toxins out of the subcutaneous fat reserves (where the liver sends many toxins for exit through the sweat glands, or for additional storage when the liver gets overwhelmed and there are not sufficient nutrients in the body to neutralize them safely).
Fat is a temporary storage bin for toxic waste, yet this storage process also comes with its risks. Certain pathogens (EBV, shingles, herpes, and mycoplasma) have two primary favorite food sources: 1) chemical/metal toxins and 2) fats that exist in the body in excess of the body’s normal fat requirements needed to make vitamins, hormones, produce energy, etc.
Toxins stored in the subcutaneous fat attract viruses which in turn convert these toxins into neurotoxins. This is when the real damage begins to happen, with neurological conditions being at the forefront of this damage. This means brain, muscle coordination, heart function, the heart/gut brain neurons, etc. can be damaged, thus promote or aggravate a neurological condition (dysfunction of nerves), or cause a skin rash/eruption (neurotoxins damaging nerves and skin cells).
FS Comment: Most of the commercial healing clay sites recommend that you can have clay foot baths, which though less effective save you the bother of removing clay from your bath tub.
Response: The Sacred Clay does not swell and clump in water like the sodium bentonite commonly used; Sacred Clay easily falls apart and goes down a drain without a hitch. I have run 50 lbs. of Sacred Clay down a drain with a sprayer without any problems at all in the drain.
This is not the case with sodium bentonite clays commonly used for baths today. They will certainly clog a drain given their clumping nature and typical larger particle size. Best to clean out the bath of a sodium bentonite and not let it get into the drain.
FS Comment: I found that clay foot baths are not only not rejuvenating, but become stressful after a while. The big problem with clay foot baths that they never tell you about, because they have never tried it, is that if the clay pulls toxins from the soles of the feet there will be an accumulation of toxins in the legs which become stiff as a result, and this can in the long term, if not resolved, lead to damage to joints by arthritis. One customer of LL's Magnetic Clay suffered a rash on his lower legs, requiring corticosteroid treatment as a result of using a clay foot bath. Nevertheless they still recommend the use of clay foot baths on their website.
Response: This is true. Foot baths can leave residues in the legs, especially when doing electric foot baths. This is one reason I prefer full body baths, so toxins can leave from the entire skin surface at once.
I once added clay to the water of an electric foot bath and experienced restless leg that night from the toxins drawn toward the feet, but still in the calves, that did not get out of the body before the bath was over.
The second time I did an electric foot bath, I also added clay to the water (reducing the amount of salt) and applied clay to the skin from knee to ankle. Zero problems with restless leg that night. The excess toxins traveling toward the feet from the electrical activity (ionic charges) were drawn out of the body through the skin.
As a side note, clay applied to a rash caused by toxic residues is my first choice remedy to draw the toxins out and accelerate healing of the skin (a function of the silica in the Sacred Clay that promotes the construction of skin collagen).
FS Comment: According to the commercial healing clay websites clay can distinguish between good and bad minerals and between toxins and nutrients.
Response: In reality, it is the wisdom of the human body that has a greater influence on selecting minerals and refusing toxins or undesirable metals.
The clay has electromagnetic properties of its own, yet if nourished properly, the human body will have a vast resource of offsetting nutrients or metabolic compounds with which to manage that which it wants from the clay or food and dispose of that which it does not want. Thus the importance of stocking the body regularly with both mineral products and superfood blends (like Vital Cleanse & Nutrify)
FS Comment: In reality clay baths have the same effect as diuretics - they dehydrate the body and remove all cations as well as vitamins and enzymes.
This means that as you have more and more baths you become weakened and the experience becomes stressful. After about five baths you have had enough.
Response: First, let’s address the mistaken belief that clays absorb beneficial nutrients, electrolytes (cations & anions), and minerals, depriving the body of the same.
The Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, Texas A&M University performed a study with 177 human volunteers to determine if clay deprives the body of beneficial nutrients. The results were conclusive:
“These results, combined with safety and efficacy data, confirm that NS clay is highly effective in reducing aflatoxin exposure and acts as a selective enterosorbent [intestinal absorbent] that does not affect the serum concentrations of important vitamins and nutrient minerals in humans.”
Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran performed a metadata study of 100 scientific studies documenting the beneficial effects of clays on body function. They found scientific evidence documenting beneficial effects in areas of detoxification, skin and hair, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, bacterial mitigation effects, bone, other effects. Their conclusion:
“Considering that Mother Nature has a cure for everything, the assessment of natural elements such as this clay should be considered in modern medicine.”
Do you also know that all clays have metals in them, with typically significant amounts of aluminum in “aluminosilicate” clays? Yet, the above conclusion references the positive results identified by 100 studies that document the beneficial properties of these same aluminosilicates.
Is there more to the story than what you are being told about metals and natural resources that have not been contaminated by modern industry?
Of course. So can water, salt, magnesium supplements, calcium supplements, citrus fruits, dates, nuts, butter, cheese, olive oil, meat, chicken, fish, alcohol, chocolate, and any food, medicine, or vitamin when consumed in excess, or consumed just because someone told you it was “good for you”.
More is not necessarily better. Not all things touted as good for you are actually needed by the body.
Some parts of Nature were built specifically for unique therapeutic applications (like coffee) and not intended for daily use.
Clays excessively high in any one mineral can overpower the workings or availability of other minerals in the body.
Everything in moderation.
Too much calcium can reduce the bioavailability of magnesium and potassium in the body, increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, arteriosclerosis, and dementia.
Too much phosphorous leads to a hardening of the arteries from the calcium-phosphate bonding that causes rigidity in arterial walls, along with brittle bones and teeth.
Too much magnesium can lead to low blood pressure, irregular heart beat, and cardiac arrest.
Too much potassium can lead to nausea, weakness, dizziness, feeling faint, diarrhea, muscle fatigue, confusion, trouble concentrating, abdominal cramps, paralysis, chest pain, and irregular heart rhythms.
Yes you can, especially if you have other mineral deficiencies or excesses at play.
One example can be from consuming too much salt causing cells of the body to swell with water and burst, a condition that could be aggravated by a sodium-based clay.
An opposite example can be when diabetic thirst causes the drinking of too much water that drains electrolytes from the body, for which sea salt, seaweed, or a sodium-based clay would be a short term remedy.
Another example would be when dehydration, excessive use of potassium supplements, and the use of medications like beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, and steroids increase potassium proportions in the body to life threatening levels.
A clay high in potassium (common to illite clay) could be dangerous in such an instance, whereas a clay high in calcium could be therapeutic, since calcium excesses diminish potassium availability.
Yet, calcium excesses by themselves can present another set of problems (like reduced magnesium availability resulting in heart attacks).
Good news is, most clays contain a spectrum of minerals in a balance proportioned by Nature, so the intake of most clays, (barring the unnatural outside influences of medical, industrial, and much of the nutraceutical isolate/megavitamin therapeutic approaches), will be safe and supportive of mineral balance within the body.
Balance your food and nutritional intake with variety. Listen to your intuition. Your body will have different needs than others. Follow what feels right to you in any given moment.
Clay baths, by proportion, will consist of ¼ cup (which is a good beginner’s amount when using the potent Sacred Clay), to possibly several cups or lbs. of other clays (due to their lower potency) in 30 gallons or so of bath water.
The body is drinking in water through the skin throughout the entire bath (just like during a shower, only more so), yet only portions of the clay added to the bath are interacting with the skin’s surface.
A portion of the clay settles to the bottom and does not interact with the body at all unless deliberately applied to the body, or stirred up in the water. (This is why you can save the Sacred Clay (after the third bath) sitting at the bottom of the tub and use it again in the next bath.)
The net result of a clay bath will be an increase in hydration due to the preponderance of water to clay in the bath and the large area of skin absorbing water the whole time.
I have personally been taking a few baths a week now for close to 15 years, sometimes two a day. I always tend to feel more hydrated from a bath as a result.
This hydration effect is particularly noticed during and after a day of dry fasting (no food, no liquids) if I take a clay bath during the fast (even at a point when I am detoxing the most from the fast).
Clay baths, or shower slurries, or body wraps in clay are highly recommended during a dry fast, or any fast, to assist the liver by clearing the toxins accumulating in the subcutaneous fat, and thereby staying ahead of cleansing releases prompted by the fast itself.
Extremely toxic conditions in a person will necessitate shorter baths, or preferably, 1-2 minute clay slurries applied over the whole body to relieve the immediate pressure of toxin buildup just beneath the skin's surface.
Doing so will reduce the magnetic draw on toxins deeper in the body organs, yet still assist the liver and the lymphatic system to clear small amounts of toxins at a time.
When someone feels they are getting dehydrated from taking a clay bath, in most cases this is in reality a sign of a detox reaction. The body uses water to address or cleanse toxins from the body, but the amount of water drawn in through the skin is commonly greater than any water used up during detoxification.
So lethargic, dehydrated feelings are likely attributed to detoxification in excess of the body’s ability to remove the toxins. They can also be the result of excessively hot water draining the adrenal energy.
At this point it is better to either take a cold shower or stop the baths for several days, and detox more gradually with sweat therapy for awhile, or perform shorter clay applications in the form of clay shower slurries for 1-5 minutes, just long enough to clear toxins from the surface layers of the subcutaneous fat beneath the skin, thereby making room for more toxins to be cleared from the liver, blood and lymph.
Clay baths are especially helpful to those that experience fatigue from a build up lactic acid from intense workout. A brief shower slurry or lengthy clay bath can draw the lactic acid out so muscle soreness diminishes or disappears and muscle repair is accelerated (a result of Sacred Clay’s silica content).
FS Comment: The clay websites recommend drinking a sports drink between each bath, but effectively replacing electrolytes is not a simple matter of taking mineral supplements as most people believe.
Response: In a nutshell, no, generally speaking you do not need to add electrolytes to your body after taking clay baths for reasons of the clay depriving you of electrolytes, because the clay is continuously providing you with electrolytes through the skin during the whole bath.
However, if you have been sweating excessively during the bath or sauna, or if you are detoxing noticeably (which can use up electrolytes), then yes, it is a good idea to supplement with electrolytes during and following a sweat-promoting or noticeable detoxifying experience.
My favorite electrolyte drink is Harmless Harvest Unpasteurized Coconut Water. Tasty & refreshing.
An electrolyte is a mineral or nutrient with a free electron charge (ion) to donate, receive, or bond with another charged (openly available) molecule. It is like a molecule with its hand out looking for another hand to shake.
Here is a list of the most common electrolytes, most of which are found naturally occurring in clays in varying proportions: sodium (Na+), chloride (Cl−), potassium (K+), calcium (Ca2+), magnesium (Mg2+), hydrogen phosphate (HPO42−), and hydrogen carbonate (HCO3−).
Notice the positive (cation) and negative (anion) electrical charges among these electrolytes.
Most all clays contain electrolytes from both sides of the electrical fence. The same is true of cucumbers, onions, kale, apples, and most all other produce.
When minerals dissociate (dissolve) into a solution, an electrolyte will have the ability to conduct electrical energy (the movement of electrons) or attach to opposite charges.
Salt is an example of two primary electrolytes, sodium and chloride, that dissociate in water resulting in the ability to enhance the flavor of food.
Dissociated sodium and potassium electrolytes function at the cellular level to regulate the balance of fluids inside and outside of the cells.
So clays, like foods, provide electrolytes to the body, often both positive & negative. Yet clays (teaspoon per teaspoon), provide more electrolytes per volume than food.
So to get more electrolytes from food you will want to eat more of a mineral rich plant (getting to be a rarity today due to depleted soils), take more mineral dense herbs (like sea vegetables or nettles, or a superfood blend like Vital Cleanse & Nutrify), or eat an earthen source with a dense mineral profile (Sacred Clay, Mineral Manna, Friendly Flora, etc.).
Just because a clay may have a dominant negative charge overall (good for detoxing positively charged toxins) does not mean it is incapable of providing positively charged electrolytes [good for detoxing negatively charged toxins, like chemical sulfates (SO42−), or sulfites (SO32−)].
Clays and foods provide both cations and anions to the body, and are received by the body according to the body's innate wisdom. The body breaks down both foods and clays into their various mineral and phytonutrient components for its own purposes.
Again, if your clay is excessively high in a specific electrolyte, like magnesium, or calcium, or potassium, you will want to look at the rest of your food and nutrient intake to make sure you have offset that excess with the other minerals, or limit the amount of that source proportionate to your body’s needs.
I realize there is no way to be absolutely sure you are balancing all of your mineral needs correctly – unless you are tuned in to your intuition. If you do not feel like taking your minerals today, don’t. Start up again when you feel drawn to them.
FS Comment: According to the commercial healing clay sites all toxins extracted from the skin are absorbed by the clay, but in practice this is not so. I noticed irritation of my lungs during the clay foot baths, but during my second full body bath when my blood was heavily loaded with toxins I experienced inflammation of my eyes, face and lungs due to caustic fumes from the bath. The so called 'toxins' are not just residues of pesticides and food preservatives, but also acids like sulphuric acids and formic acid created as a byproduct of metabolism and stored in fat cells.
Response: The author of these comments (FringeScientist) is correct. Not all toxins drawn from the body end up in the clay. There are gaseous toxins, liquid toxins, chemical toxins, and metallic toxins. Given the right electrical environment, (which clays and salts, plus heat and water, can provide), any one or all can be released at once.
An example of such is when a former auto mechanic of 10 years, took his first Sacred Clay bath and found an oil slick 1/8th of an inch thick on the bottom of his tub. He also noticed a rainbow colored oil slick on the surface of his bath water. Draining the water, the oil reeked of petroleum.
The smell is the off-gassing of petroleum byproducts that were once lodged in his hands, face, and arms. Some of the oil floated freely on the water’s surface. A large amount was drawn into the clay and sank to the bottom due to the weight of both compared to water. Some fumes, not captured by the clay, off-gassed resulting in the smell.
It is common for people to find an orangish oily ring around the rim of their tub after their first few clay baths. This is the oil on or in the skin that was drawn out by the orangish clay.
On the bottom of the tub from all Sacred Clay baths, a black silt will show up. This is a characteristic from within the clay itself and is not likely to be evidence of detoxed chemicals.
Chemicals from city water will be absorbed invisibly within the clay making the toxic water safe to bathe in.
Another example of times when the clay may not absorb everything is when taking an electric foot bath. If the clay is added to the foot bath water (and the salt reduced to achieve an ideal electrical voltage in the water), the off-gassing of an obnoxious odor can sometimes become noticeable.
I prefer full body clay baths, or brief shower slurries, as I know toxins are leaving through all pores of the skin at once, and I can regulate the amount of time in the water that feels good to me in the moment.
At some point, if such off-gassing from a clay bath is prevalent at first (indicating an extremely toxic internal condition), this will diminish over time as a sensible and gradual detoxification program is pursued, and possibly the diet, if appropriate, is altered to more of a plant-based, alkalizing diet.
FS Comment: The conclusion I reached from this experience is that you have to be really careful about acting on advice from the internet if it can effect your health. Do not give uncritical credence to advice from people who appear to be experts with long experience in the clay business. Also bear in mind that clay baths have not been studied by scientists, as diuretics have been, and many scientific facts expressed by advocates of natural healing are just conjecture. Another thing to consider is that all the web sites giving information about healing clay exist primarily to sell clay and accessories, and therefore their owners cannot be trusted to be honest about problems with clay baths. They may even give bad advice, like taking two baths a week, if it may help sales. The one honorable exception is Michael King at Vitality Herbs and Clay.
Response: I tip my hat to FringeScientist on the Curezone Forum for sharing honestly about his experiences and making note of realistic concerns that can arise from taking clay baths, most of which I concur with.
In truth, we have a mixture of sale-motivated literature and honest anecdotal reporting happening with respect to all nutraceuticals (no different that drug ads on TV, just with far, far fewer side effects than the medications).
The scientific confirmations of clay usage and its benefits are increasing with every passing year. Yet the use of clay for therapeutic and nutritional purposes goes back for thousands of years of successful application.
So, no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater; weigh carefully the information you find on the internet and in books, understand the potential harm in the event you are one of the many with an exceptional load of toxins in the body, then listen to your heart to discern the best approach and timing in the use of clay that applies to you in that moment of time.
Many blessings of health & success.
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