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On the Subject of Heavy Metals in Clay and Plants

December 01, 2016 6 min read

Q: It has been mentioned in several sites that eating clay can be harmful as it often contains heavy metals, chemicals, and even mercury. How do I know your clay is clean from those things? Do you purify it in some way or extract the minerals out of it? How do I make sure I am not ingesting heavy metals from your clay?

A: I understand your concerns. There is a good amount of misinformation and lack of understanding surrounding mineral sources, metals, and their effects on the human body. This is true both within the medical sciences and the natural sciences.

The biggest problems we face are from industrial pollution, not from Nature's widely used clay sources. Industry has extracted and purified metals and minerals for commercial purposes, thus creating concentrated pollutants. The lack of a comprehensive array of elements in a refined material is the cause of it being a pollutant to the body.

Clays with wide historical benefits, on the other hand, will generally be found to be safe due to the way Nature has assembled the mineral/metal bonds within the clay. The same will apply to plants grown in soils that have not been contaminated by industrial metals or chemicals.

The natural health industry is just waking up to the benefits of clay, and thus in their youthful enthusiasm (and sometimes personal profit motive), have generated some accurate and some misleading information on the safety or risks of clays and foods or herbs with metals in them. 

Virtually all of the popular clays, including ours, do have metals in trace amounts, or in macro amounts (like aluminum, copper, iron, etc.). Metals in clays are typically bonded safely with other minerals (like magnesium, calcium, or silica), or with gasses (hydrogen & oxygen), which neutralize them for safe use in the body. 

This is particularly true when a clay has an amorphous silica content. Amorphous silica converts to orthosilicic acid when combined with water. Silicic acid acts as a ligand (escort) for minerals and phytonutrients through the cell wall, and for use in the body's natural detoxification pathways.

Silica is also well known to bond with metals (especially aluminum) to form neutral compounds safe for ingestion. Silica, iron, and the full range of common electrolytes, especially sulphur & phosphorus, are central to heavy metal and chemical detoxification.

There is a difference between free metal ions (like industrial aluminum, mercury, chemical arsenic, lead, etc.) and inert metals naturally combined with a neutralizing mineral opposite, no longer “free” to attach to receptor sites in the body. Such is the process behind chelation therapy that escorts industrial pollutants from the body.

Other ligands include citric acid, humic acid, fulvic acid, and olmic acid (the last three are commonly found in a humate), especially effective when combined with an orthosilicic acid source (like a silicate clay). For this reason we utilize our Herbal C (high in citric acid) and Friendly Flora (high in humates) or Sea Vegetable Blend (high in minerals and other chelating nutrients) with Sacred Clay or Mineral Manna (both which contain silica, sulfur, iron, phosphorus and other electrolyte chelating minerals) to further enhance the body's natural detoxification mechanisms. Any superfood blend, like Earth & Sea Greens or Vital Cleanse & Nutrify will provide a number of chelating ligand nutrients as well.

This process of metal/mineral bonding with bonding opposites is performed with industrial heavy metals, chemicals, and radiation in the body after clay is ingested, by chelating, or neutralizing, industrial free lead, mercury, aluminum, etc. in the body. 

The neutralization process is similar to the way sodium & chloride combine, both of which are toxic by themselves, but when combined in Nature, like in a sea salt, make a safe ingestible salt.

Lead is readily neutralized (made inert) in the presence of phosphorus, iron, sulfur, and an acidic environment (commonly promoted by the sulfur). Arsenic is neutralized (chelated) with this combination as well.

Interestingly, Sacred Clay (and thus Mineral Manna) contains all three, thus serves as a natural chelating agent for lead & arsenic all by itself. Of course, Nature will have already bonded any lead or arsenic in the clay naturally with these same elements, thus neutralizing them within the clay itself. This is why a natural clay containing metals can be safe to consume; the metals are naturally chelated if the source is abundant in minerals and chelating ligands.

The body becomes able to chelate all forms of industrial pollutants when sufficient minerals or chelating ligands from clay, sea vegetables, and nutrient dense herbs are made available to it to perform this bonding (chelation) process, sending them safely out of the body through normal elimination channels. 

This process is also the foundational the principle behind medical chelation treatments (only they use chemicals to chelate, and there are serious side effects to those very processes due to the lack of broad nutrient and mineral profiles in their chemical approach). 

The chelation process itself is widely recognized as an antidote for heavy metal poisoning in soils and waterways. Chelating agents convert free metal ions into biochemically inert forms that can be excreted. The act of chelation involves the bonding of a chelating ligand (typically an organic ion or molecule that serves as a neutralizing bonding opposite) that is bonded to a central metal atom at two or more points.

Unbonded metal ions are most commonly created by industry, like in a lead, mercury, cadmium, or aluminum factory. These are dangerous to the body, yet can be neutralized by most clays, salts, humic earths, seaweeds, algae, and mineral dense herbs (nettle, alfalfa, horsetail, etc.), due to the sheer abundance of chelating mineral options within them that can be matched to an unbonded heavy metal ion. Even certain microorganisms and specific plants are efficient at bioremediation of environmental pollutants. 

For example, Sacred Clay has significant amounts of aluminum (10-15%) and iron (3-5%), and trace amounts of other metals, yet, even though I have been consuming 1/2 to 1 tablespoon or more of this clay now for 14 years almost daily, my most recent hair tests showed zero, or almost zero, aluminum, mercury, cadmium, beryllium, uranium, and slightly above the reference range for iron, although arsenic was on the top end, yet within, the reference range (I eat a good amount of rice). 

Most smectite, illite, kaolin, and zeolite clays are aluminosilicates. Aluminosilicates are the most commonly used clays for human ingestion. Popular examples of widely used aluminosilicate clays include bentonite, montmorillonite, Pascalite, Terramin, Living Clay, Fuller's Earth, clinoptilolite (zeolite), illite (French Green Clay), kaolinite (formerly used in Kaopectate), pyrophyllite, and rectorite. 

A clay high in aluminum like Sacred Clay, contains aluminosilicate, not just aluminum, and is well known to be safe for the body (inert). It is also known to detoxify heavy aluminum from the body due to its silica presence which is available for bonding with heavy aluminum from industrial pollution or aluminum byproducts (pots, cans, food additives, flow agents, etc).  

In most earthen resources (especially ones converting to clay over thousands of years), metals tend to be bonded with other minerals to form useful compounds beneficial to the body. This is not always true about certain rock sources with streaks of metals in them, but when a clay is heavily affected by hydrothermal (underground aquifer) influences, or extensive weathering, a natural process of metal/mineral bonding takes place within the clay matrix as it transforms from lava or volcanic rock into a true clay. 

Most humic acids, salts, seaweeds, and clays chelate or oxidize heavy metals, even when the same metals are contained in trace amounts within the earthen source. The reason is due to the vast number of trace minerals in most clays which serve as bonding opposites for toxins, radiation, and metal.

The detoxification support provided by various natural plant & mineral sources is the reason that some clients notice detox symptoms during the first few days or weeks when beginning on a program of Earth & Sea GreensVital Cleanse & NutrifySea Vegetable Blend, and/or the clays.

This obvious response is a testament to the chelating power of natural mineral sources and nutrient-dense herbs.

Reports from clients using Sacred Clay in baths and internally have reported some dramatic detoxification effects, particularly if their background included exposures to wartime chemicals, chemical recreationals, petroleum refineries, pharmaceutical drugs, hormone replacement therapy, or automotive work. (An oil ring around the bath tub is a common first sign of effective detoxification during a clay bath.)

A 10 year auto mechanic found an oil slick 1/8th inch thick on the bottom of his first Sacred Clay bath. Changes in the color of the bath water are common from high levels of chemicals leaving the body, as has been seen with some highly exposed military veterans, or others exposed to high levels of chemicals in the distant past.

A clay that has been "purified" with high heat will be more disrupted in its mineral composition, pulling apart some of Nature's natural bonds, thus untrustworthy due mostly to its now imbalanced mineral profile. 

Minerals depend on each other to remain in a state of balance. Remove some of Nature's composition and the imbalance can be transferred to the body, placing a demand on the body to make up for the missing elements from its internal storehouse. This can lead to body depletion in some areas, rather than ideal nourishment from the treated source. 

Whole earthen resources are Nature’s answer to our health problems, not chemical isolates or extreme concentrates, or products that have been messed with by a laboratory.

True earthen sources, with long term beneficial historical usage, can be trusted more than today's medical and natural sciences (with their abundant side effects). 

My general philosophy is to trust Nature, and question science, yet follow your personal intuition above all else.

All the best,
Michael King
Vitality Herbs & Clay LLC
541-482-9633   888-325-1475
Michael King

Michael King is a Life Enrichment Consultant, a natural intuitive, a researcher of Nature's most powerful healing resources the world over, the author of "Detoxify, Nourish & Build - Three Essentials for Vibrant Health" and the Vital Health News Updates - a periodic newsletter documenting the most life-building natural resources on the planet. Michael is also an advocate of sustainable gardening, environmental responsibility, and an architect of ways to increase global food production.



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