Clay’s use by indigenous or lost cultures pre-dates our earliest historical documents. The ancient Egyptians, the Greeks, the Native Americans all used it in different ways (some of them practical, some of them mystical).
Clay comes in different types – or families – such as smectite – and in different colours, which indicate different mineral composition. Clay is used in beauty and health treatments and is incredibly effective at helping the body and skin detox. Spa resorts offering clay body wraps, facials and baths are widespread throughout the world, testament to clay’s universal appeal.
Many doctors and naturopaths incorporated the use of clay as part of their own health regimes and their patients’ alike.
German naturopath Sebastian Kneipp (who lived in the 18th century) used clay extensively and wrote about his findings. He gave his name to ‘Kneipp Therapy‘, recognised by mainstream medicine in Germany today, as well as more than 550 Kneipp Associations and over 50 Kneipp Cure resorts practising his theories and using his treatments. Not a bad legacy!
Weston A. Price MD (founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and author of the landmark book ‘Nutrition and Physical Degeneration’, published in 1939) researched and documented extensively the use of natural clays by “non-industrialised indigenous” people across the world. Interested in the link between diet and general health, he found that many indigenous people’s good health coincided with their regular use of clay. Today, his foundation continues to preserve his work educating people about health, nutrition, and quality farming practices.
Raymond Dextreit (a well-known French Naturopath from the last century) used and researched clay as part of his work and to help his patients. His vast experience, accumulated over decades, led him to discover that clays from the green family were the most effective and versatile. He wrote many books on the subject, which were translated into many languages and sold over a million copies. One of the most famous is ‘Our Earth, Our Cure‘ – still available today, but mostly second-hand.
Monsieur Dextreit also found out that clay stimulates the deficient organ and helps to restore its function; that clay is a powerful agent of stimulation, transformation and transmission and that it contains highly active ingredients, able to induce cellular rebuilding and to hasten all organic processes (most importantly, toxin and waste removal).
CURIOUS ABOUT THE FAMILIES OF CLAY?
The many varieties of clay each come with their own unique properties and applications (some industrial, some cosmetic). Clay falls into three or four distinct families (depending on the school of thought). Within these families or groups clay can have many different mineral compositions, making clay very versatile indeed. The main two families used for beauty and detox treatments are:
- SMECTITE FAMILY – smectite clays are mighty: they have the power to absorb and adsorb (not the same thing). This means the clay can swell and absorb water, but also has the power to draw toxic substances into its structure and adsorb them (to get technical, because of a differential in electrical charge). Our green swelling clay (calcium bentonite to be precise) is from the smectite family, and we can say without hesitation it is the best clay we have ever used (this is why we stock it!). Smectite clays are widely known for detoxing, cleansing and drawing impurities from the skin in the form of body wraps, baths and clay facials.
- KAOLINITE FAMILY – kaolin clays are used in the production of porcelain and ceramics, as well as in medicine and cosmetics.
LOOKING FOR CLAY? HERE IS WHAT TO ASK…
First off, consider your skin type and how you intend to use the clay. Different skins have different needs, and some clays will be better suited to mature, oily, sensitive skins etc…
- What is the family and source of the clay (where it is mined)?
- What is the pH of the clay? (8.5 or above is recommended to detox).
- What is the screen-mesh of the clay? Non-gritty clay – milled finely – is better.
- How is the clay processed? Is it all natural (no additives)?
- Is a mineral analysis sheet for the clay available?
- If you are looking at a mix (made up of different clays), ask the family and source of each clay in the product.
We have found our green swelling clay to be very effective at a wide range of applications, including deep-cleansing treatments for the face or the body, detox baths, wraps etc…. It also saves effort and cost to use one single clay for everything!
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CLAY?