Before you freak out, rest assured that I didn't just eat any old clay—I tested out a bentonite clay detox made with specially cleaned and filtered "healing clay."
Bentonite clay is believed to have a positive charge that draws toxins out of the body, whether ingested or applied to skin. And while cultures all around the world have practiced geophagy (basically, eating dirt) for millenia, clay detoxes and healing masks have only recently become trendy. I set out to find out what all the hype was all about.
To get started, I picked up a bottle of Yerba Prima Great Plains Bentonite Detox. The label on the bottle didn't give too many specific instructions about how to use the detox, so I did my own research online. Most people recommend taking 1 tablespoon of the clay diluted in a full glass of water once a day, for four days or so. You can use the detox as long as you want, but since the clay can upset your stomach and even cause some, erm, digestive distress, most people recommend starting with just a few days the first time trying bentonite clay.
With that in mind, I decide to start with a four-day detox, to be safe. I could always continue taking the clay longer, if things go well. Not really knowing how I would feel or what this detox would entail, I start drinking the viscous, white mixture. Here's what happened next.
Detox Day One
Some of the reviews I read online start to freak me out. This stuff seems to have caused every kind of tummy trouble, from extreme constipation to the other end of the spectrum, and comes with warnings that it might stop prescription drugs from working (!!!). I purposefully start the detox on a Sunday morning when I have no plans, in case major stomach problems ensue.
As instructed, I mix 1 tablespoon of this chalky, white stuff into a glass of water. Metal is said to deactivate the clay, so instead, I mix my detox concoction with a plastic ice cream scoop—apparently the only plastic utensil I own. My roommate saw this and now thinks I'm crazy.
Drinking the clay-water mixture actually isn't too bad. It's a bit gritty, not surprisingly, but it doesn't have much flavor. I chase it with another glass of water and go about my day. My stomach feels a little queasy at first, but I'm honestly not sure if that's a result of the clay or my nervousness.
Detox Day Two
Everything goes pretty much the same as the first day. At this point, I start to wonder how I'll know if I'm even "detoxing," but I decide to chill out and let the clay do its thing.
Detox Day Three
On the third day, I wake up earlier than usual to run some errands before work and grabmy detox drink on my way out the door. When I finally get to the office two hours later, I realize I hadn't yet eaten breakfast—but I'm (shockingly) not even hungry. I wonder if this is the result of the clay, but can't figure out how to tell for sure.
Detox Day Four
I have to say, on the fourth and final day of my detox, I'm happy to finish my last glass of chalky white water. I will not miss the gritty feeling of the clay coating inside of my mouth, but, all in all, I didn't mind the experience.
Detox-wise, it's hard to say how effective the bentonite clay was for me. There's not a lot of scientific research into detoxifying the body, and without access to any medical tests, I can't say whether any of my vital signs changed.
What little information I did find on detox symptoms more or less said I might "feel" evidence of toxins leaving my body. Some of the signs of a detox working could include fatigue, irritability and moodiness, soreness, nausea, constipation, bad breath, acne, and increased cravings.
I did feel a bit tired and sore during the cleanse—but was that from the clay? At the time, I certainly didn't think so, and chalked it up to not sleeping well and trying an intense kickboxing class for the first time. Looking back, I suppose these could have been symptoms of the detox working, but I have to admit I was looking for something more extreme.
At the end of the day, I can't say for sure that the bentonite clay detox cleansed my body of toxins—but I also can't be sure it didn't work. Maybe I'll keep the bottle of clay in my medicine cabinet for a rainy day.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont