Years have passed and so far, it continues to prove itself: clay, clay therapy. So, what is clay therapy?
Clay is a very hydrophilic and fragile rock formed by the decomposition of rocks under the action of wind sun and water. The clays are rich in mineral salts and trace elements, they can be of different colors but the most used in Naturotherapy are white clay (or kaolinite) and green clay …
The Egyptians already used it to heal wounds, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, praised his virtues … This clay therapy dates back to time immemorial.
*** What Is Clay Therapy?
Well known to our grandmothers for its healing action on wounds and burns care, this medicine is based on the principle that clay acts on the body by generating the exact reaction necessary to restore health. Applied to a purulent wound, for example, it cleans, removes inflammation, destroys pathogens, and activates healing.
This therapy includes all uses of clay for therapeutic purposes. Recognized for its cosmetic and antiseptic properties, it has as much room in a toiletry bag as in the medicine cabinet, even if science still does not know how it acts as a bactericide while promoting the recovery of damaged tissue.
I – Clay Therapy According to Internal Use and External Use?
Clay can be used for both internal and external care.
1 – Clay in Internal Use
In internal use, it is fixed at the exact place where the disease is located and remains there all the time necessary for its destruction and cellular reconstitution. Anti-inflammatory, bactericidal, healing, purifying, it is difficult to list all the properties that its followers lend to this active ingredient. It is used in dilutions in water, tablets or, enemas…
2 – Clay Used Externally
As for its external use – poultices (plasters) and compress, “mud baths”, masks of beauty. The clay is said to have healing and antiseptic properties. It has always been a popular medicine remedy and is now practiced by some naturopaths.
II – Composition of the Clay
The clays come from decomposition:
– volcanic source rocks,
– and the most common, feldspars.
They are rich:
– silica between 50 to 60%,
– but also alumina salts,
– as well as iron,
– or magnesium
– and other essential minerals in varying proportions depending on the origins of the clay.
Note: Depending on the exact origin, the clay will have slightly different compositions and different colors. Ferric salts are responsible for the color difference of clays, this is also why some are good for internal use and others for external use only!
III – The Different Types of Clays
They vary according to their color especially.
1- Green Clay
The green clay (montmorillonite or illite): the classic, it is used for its absorbing, healing, calming, and purifying virtues. Ideal for the care of combination and oily skin.
Green clay, with its high concentration of magnesium and silica (the main constituent of the cells of the epidermis, nails, and hair), is the most active and versatile of all clays. Its purifying, absorbing, anti-inflammatory, balancing, and regenerating properties make it very effective against imperfections of normal oily skin. It is used for its great ability to absorb and regulate excess sebum. Finally, it acts as a healing and purifying dressing on the weakened and irritated areas of the skin by limiting bacterial proliferation.
2- Red Clay
Red clay: It is used for its soothing and restorative virtues on skin inflammations. It also purifies dull and tired skin.
The red clay, rich in trace elements and having the highest content of iron oxide, it can illuminate the skin to avoid dull complexion, soothe skin inflammation and improve microcirculation to make the skin soft. It helps purify the skin, remineralizes, and absorbs toxins. Finally, it has the ability to absorb even very fine impurities but also odors.
3- White Clay
White clay, (kaolin): rich in silica but little mineralized, it helps moisturize dry and irritated skin. It has the power to heal irritation, small wounds while possessing healing and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used as an anti-aging treatment against wrinkles and is effective in refining skin texture. In addition, it has softening qualities promoting hydration of the upper layers of the epidermis.
4- The Pink Clay
Pink clay: a subtle blend of two clays, white clay and red clay, which allows it to benefit from several virtues. It is suitable for the most sensitive and fragile skin because it respects the pH of the epidermis. Remineralizing, it is well adapted to reactive skin. Its antiseptic and healing actions play the role of astringent, purifier, and accelerator in the regeneration and in reconstitution of damaged tissues.
5- The Yellow Clay
Yellow clay (yellow illite): rich in magnesium and iron, is used as a stimulating and refreshing treatment. It restores oxygen to the skin, for a toned, luminous and radiant epidermis. It is recommended for sensitive and mature skin. This clay also has purifying and descaling properties, which will help eliminate toxins. Its sebo-regulatory action will help balance the lipid layer on the surface of the face. Yellow clay also has healing and anti-inflammatory properties, applied in a thick layer, it helps to reduce pain.
IV – Clay Therapy: Precautions and Contraindications
The use of clay as therapy has always been beneficial. However, for greater effectiveness, precautions and contraindications should be noted.
1 – Precautions
– Allergy: known allergy to hypersensitivity to clay, clay products, or clay constituents.
– Gastrointestinal: ingestion of clay may cause constipation or diarrhea, heartburn, flatulence, loss of appetite, postprandial vomiting. Ingesting clay can also cause intestinal obstruction and necrotizing enteritis, leading to intestinal perforation. When taken in large amounts, bentonite has the potential to cause gastrointestinal obstruction and electrolyte imbalance. Bentonite is used as a purgative in homeopathic form.
– Genitourinary: chronic ingestion of clay has been associated with polyuria and urge incontinence, as well as hypogonadism.
– Hematology: Geophagy can lead to iron malabsorption with severe deficiency and anemia.
– Musculoskeletal system: myopathy due to severe hypokalemia is possible in case of large amounts of ingestion of clay.
– Neurology / CNS: Geophagy may be associated with lead poisoning in children with a risk of central nervous system sequelae.
– Psychiatric disorders: Geophagy can occur in patients with mental illness, including psychotic disorders.
– Encopresis (faecal incontinence associated with psychiatric disorders): modeling clay therapy in children. It has not been proven that plasticine play can be an effective therapeutic practice for children with constipation and encopresis.
– Pulmonary / Respiratory: Chronic bronchitis, dyspnea, and pneumoconiosis have been associated with dust exposure in the heavy clay industry. According to a scientific paper, flow limitation and progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be related to inhalation of aluminum silicate or kaolinite, which is a common component of clay soils. Studies in humans suggest that loss of lung function occurs with exposure to silica dust at concentrations between 0.1 and 0.2 mg and that variations in the risks associated with exposure to silica dust including the presence of other minerals in the dust, especially when they are associated with clay minerals.
– Renal: the clay is able to fix potassium, so that the ingestion of chronic clay may produce severe hypokalemia, accentuated in patients with renal insufficiency, but not in those on hemodialysis.
– Other: earthen pots. Clay products may contain varying amounts of aluminum, arsenic, barium, lead, nickel, and titanium.
2 – Contraindications
– Avoid use in patients with Wilson’s disease.
– Avoid use in patients with renal insufficiency.
V – Some Tips for Using Clay
We offer two tips among many others. This is the clay mask and the clay bath.
*** Mask with Clay
– Pour 1 to 3 tablespoons of clay into a cup
– Add spring water to obtain a creamy paste
– Extend the mask in a thin layer on the face, avoiding any contact with the eyes
– Leave for 10 to 15 minutes and rinse with water. Do not let the clay dry on the skin.
*** Clay Bath
Add 8 drops of essential oils of your choice to 150 grams of clay and dilute it all in your bath.