Nutrition notes: how to purify with clay

Nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik explains the uses of clay and charcoal


Nutrition notes: how to purify with clay

Many of us are familiar with the topical use of clay in various beauty products and some may also be aware of taking Bentonite clay, or charcoal, internally, to help with digestive and detoxification issues. Both have been traditionally used for medicinal purposes related to the absorption of toxins, pesticides and heavy metals and helping to transport these out of the body, but they are now taking centre-stage in juices and elixirs as part of a day-to-day routine. But what exactly are they and how should you be using them?

The most renowned of the clays is the Bentonite aka ‘Montmorillonite’ and it’s this one that is reported to have the most powerful healing properties. It is creamy-grey in colour and is essentially composed of aged volcanic ash that can be applied topically or taken internally. Carbon or activated charcoal gets its activation from steaming its starting material (usually willow bark) to high temperatures to make it more porous and hence more effective in its absorption. It comes in a powder or stick form.

Both of these alkalising substances work by being high in negatively charged ions, which then attract those positive ones omitted from toxins. The clay and charcoal then binds to impurities in the intestinal tract or skin, which helps eliminate or draw the toxins out of the body. A bit like a detox sponge! Research is not conclusive, but they have been shown to be effective for some people who suffer with constipation and bloating, as well as helping to improve skin health. However, it’s crucial that these should be used with the guidance of a practitioner, as in neat form the potency of both clay and charcoal could also affect the absorption of other nutrients, and even affect certain  medications – so please ensure that you’re working with someone who can give you the right advice before you take the plunge.

If clay and charcoal pique your interest, here’s how to get them into your day, in a healthy, manageable way:

  • Make a Bentonite face mask – measure half a teaspoon of clay into a cup, add three drops of jojoba oil to balance skin, or three drops of apricot oil to moisturise, some water, and mix to form a smooth paste. Apply to clean skin, leave for 20 minutes, then rinse. We like Indigo Herbs Pure Bentonite Clay Powder, £14.99 for 150g.
  • As a mouth rinse, to help whiten and remineralise teeth – shake up to half a  teaspoon of Bentonite clay in warm water, and gargle thoroughly for two minutes, then expel, and rinse your mouth with water.
  • Filter your water – add activated charcoal sticks to water to filter it. They look beautiful and do the job perfectly. I love the ones from Sort of Coal.
  • Pick up a charcoal-infused juice or elixir – Raw Press and Botanic Lab both sell these online and via their London stores.

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