I gave a basic introduction to bentonite clay in Heavy Metals Part 4 - Options for Detoxifying Metals. Bentonite is a clay that is a great detoxifier because of 2 main qualities: adsorption and absorption. Additionally, it is a great option because of other qualities such as its mineral content.
Adsorption. No, that's not a typo, it was a new word to me too. I'm no chemist, however, this is an important concept to understand as to why bentonite clay is effective. Adsorption occurs when the molecules of one substance attach to the surface of another substance. Or as Webster puts it, "to collect in condensed form on a surface."
Bentonite clay has a strong negative ionic charge, giving it amazing pulling power for things with a positive charge, such as heavy metals, free radicals, and most other toxins. The negative ions (bentonite clay) and positive ions (heavy metals) bond (adsorption). That's great right? But here's the bad news, the bond isn't very strong. Which means it can pull apart, which means after being mobilized out of tissues, metals or other toxins could be left in the body to recirculate. Not good! That's where bentonite's next quality comes in...
Absorption. Again referring to my friend Webster, he says, "to suck up; to assimilate; to absorb and incorporate." Bentonite clay is highly absorptive (some types even more than others). Judy Phillips from LL Magnetic Clay states,
"The clay utilized in our baths is a raw, sodium bentonite clay that is the most pulling, swelling clay you can get your hands on. If you were to mix it with hot water, and it looks like it is completely hydrated, it isn't. You could come back an hour later, and it would be completely solidified. Add some more water and the same thing would happen."
I can attest to that, there have been times I've been preparing clay for a bath by blending it with water and have gotten delayed by my children needing something, or, um, fighting about something (that's never happened to you, right?), when I've gotten back to my clay preparation the contents of the blender container have become a gelled mass. It has to be blended in small batches, doing more can result in the clay swelling up so much it gels up and doesn't flow down to the blades to be blended.
There you have it, the magic of bentonite is that once the adsorptive quality of the clay pulls the toxins to the clay molecule, the absorptive quality incorporates it inside its structure and holds it tightly. Not only does bentonite mobilize the toxins and metals out of the tissues, it essentially grabs them and doesn't let go.
Because of these two qualities, bentonite is incredibly versatile in its usefulness. It can be effective for pulling out heavy metals, infection from sores, bee stings, radiation, viruses, etc.
Bentonite clay is also know for it's mineral content. This is great benefit for those who use it internally for general detoxification. For those who use it for heavy metal detoxification, it is a huge benefit. Other methods of heavy metal chelation pull a lot of essential minerals out of the body while it is pulling out the metals. Bentonite clay pulls a few beneficial minerals, but also delivers other beneficial minerals to the body. We just take some water with a liquid mineral supplement added or some coconut water after a clay bath to replenish lost minerals.
External vs. Internal Use
While in general bentonite is safe both externally and internally, it is important to know the differing attributes of different bentonite. There are over 200 types of bentonite clay and they are not all created equal. Some are better for internal use, others for external use. Some have more pulling power and some can be polluted. As stated above the sodium bentonite used in LL Magnetic Clay baths as tremendous swelling ability. While that is great for a bath, it's not so great if you take much internally. You could end up quite constipated. For internal use, calcium bentonite is the way to go, just make sure it's food grade. So do your due diligence when picking a clay.
As with everything, there is a variety in quality, a good thing to check when looking at bentonite is to ask the supplier for the mineral and microbial content tests.
In our house, we call them mud baths and I find them oh so wonderfully relaxing. I can't think of a more pleasant way to detox!