Are there heavy metals in Healing Clay and Mineral Toothpowder? Are they safe (can't be absorbed)?
The short answer is yes and yes. Healing clay - calcium montmorillonite bentonite clay, a food-grade living clay, which also makes up a majority of our Mineral Toothpowder - contains trace amounts of naturally occurring lead and arsenic (parts per million), along with aluminum, as an aluminum silicate-based smectite clay. It is safe because the heavy metals in the clay are not absorbable by the body, they are bound in the clay.
Edible clays have been used successfully for centuries to detox heavy metals and improve health. Why? Heavy metals, certain bacteria (like the ones that cause cavities, disease, etc), PFAs, pathogens (aka the bad guys) have a strong positive charge. Healing clay has a strong negative charge, which attracts and binds anything with a positive charge.
In other words, when taken internally, the clay carries the heavy metals, etc. out through the colon. When used externally, (taking a clay bath, using it as a mask or poultice on the skin and/or a toothpowder) the clay carries the heavy metals, etc. down the drain.
Want to learn more? Keep reading.
The below excerpt is from an article on eytonsearth.com (website no longer available), by Jason Eaton, a clay expert and author of the book "Upon a Clay Tablet" which describes the chemistry of clay as it relates to heavy metals:
Aluminum in Edible Clays
"One of the more common concerns about the use of clays internally is the aluminum content in clay. The aluminum in illite and smectite is complexed (bound); it is a part of the alumino-silicate crystal, which is a very stable molecule. As such, it is completely inert in the human body. There are no normal or abnormal conditions in the human body that would cause the aluminum, bound to silica and oxygen, to "break free".
Numerous individuals have undergone heavy metal testing after having used traditional edible clay for years, and in some cases, decades (the author included). It is abundantly clear that the use of clays assists the body in the removal of aluminum.
To be clear, in order for aluminum to be an issue for human or animal health (numerous animal studies have been done studying safety issues), it must be bioavailable. In order to be bioavailable, it must be in an uncomplexed form or interchangeable form (unstable molecule in reference to localized environmental conditions allowing reactivity) and it must be in a water or fat-soluble state.
The crystalline structure of clay particles prevents the absorption of aluminum, which is one reason why smectites have always maintained an "unargued" GRAS status in the U.S.
Heavy Metals in Traditional Edible Clays
There are two types of metals associated with clays:
- The metals in the earth at the time of clay's formation.
- Metals that clay may come in contact with after the clay's formation.
Trace amounts of arsenic and lead, for example, are commonly found in traditional edible clays. These metals are not nascent, and do not become bioavailable in the body; they are simply removed from the body along with the clay particles. Clays, however, that have been contaminated with heavy metals post-deposit, such as from the environment may pose a potential risk for heavy metal adsorption.
A simple geological study of any given clay deposit is usually enough to establish the quality of the deposit for human use. In our study of traditional-use clays (clays with a long history of use by indigenous cultures), it should be noted that extremely dangerous or volatile elements are never found in edible clays in sufficient quantities to pose a health risk, such as mercury and cadmium. Clay deposits with elevated levels of elements such as mercury and cadmium do exist, but they are not utilized for human/animal use.
Furthermore, strict analytical studies done in France have perpetually demonstrated that even high-grade sea clays (from an ancient sea bed) have less than 0.5 mg/L of water-soluble levels of each heavy metal tested. These metals simply remain a part of the clay as it exits the body.
There is no evidence to suggest that traditional use clays (clays that have been consumed by humans for 3-4+ generations) increase the metal burden of human or animal bodies. All studies that have been done demonstrate a reduction in the body-bio burden of harmful metals and an improvement in nutrient uptake.
However, it is possible that clay, POST deposit, could have come in contact with environmental conditions that result in undesirable metal contamination from air, water, soil, or industrial contamination.
Natural Radiation in Clays
Clays from all countries contain natural radiation. Raymond Dextreit, the famed French naturopath known for his mastery of clay therapeutics and herbology (author of Earth Cures) noted that the vital energy contained in clay resulted from a minute amount of naturally occurring radioactive Isotopes.
This is not to be confused with clays contaminated with nuclear waste. The radiation adsorbed by clay naturally is the Gamma radiation from the Earth.
How can I be sure that the body doesn't absorb the lead and arsenic in edible clay?
In order for the human body to be negatively affected by these elements:
- The elements must exist in a form that the body can absorb. This means that they need to be, a) fat-soluble, b) water-soluble, or c) in a nascent form, AND small enough or in an active enough form to be absorbed through the intestinal tract. Most of the metals found in clay are fused into the aluminum silicate structure of the clay particles. The rest are bound by the clay, because that is exactly what clay does and is scientifically used for.
- The clay particles would have to be degraded in some manner, such as extreme heat (in the thousands of degrees), or a very powerful acid (much more powerful than stomach acid).
Although no extensive human studies have been done on using edible clays (that the author is aware of, although animal studies have been done), our work thus far has demonstrated a reduced metal burden on the body through long-term use of clay. This work has been done by doing heavy metal challenge tests before and after exposure to amalgams (with amalgams still in the mouth and removed).
While these isolated studies are not scientifically significant from a statistical standpoint (no controls used and not enough of a population sample), every such study we've seen simply reinforces the existing knowledge that clay assists the body in removing harmful substances; it does not increase them.
Studies done in France show that clay does not release a significant amount of heavy metals into water. The studies were conducted by first testing an edible clay via 4-acid base testing and comparing the results with water subjected to the same clay.
Perhaps the most important evidence is the overwhelming benefits reported by individuals using quality clays in formal detox protocols."
Perry A. Arledge, clay expert and author of Calcium Bentonite Clay, Nature's Pathway to Healing, has this to say about heavy metals in calcium bentonite:
Question: Are metal minerals in clay dangerous?
Answer: No, the trace minerals in clay are bound tightly together and make up the whole of the clay molecule. The clay particle size is too large to pass through the colon wall into the bloodstream. Two limited studies have addressed the leaching and bioavailability of metals from clays (Mascolo et al., 2004; Wiles et al., 2004). No significant differences were observed in the contents of aluminum, antimony, barium, bromine, cesium, calcium, cerium, chromium, cobalt, copper, dysprosium, europium, hafnium, iron, lanthanum, lutetium, magnesium, manganese, neodymium, nickel, samarium, scandium, selenium, sodium, strontium, sulfur, tantalum, tellurium, terbium, thorium, titanium, uranium, vanadium, ytterbium, zinc, or zirconium in the brain, kidney, liver, or tibia from pregnant SD rats dosed with 2% sodium montmorillonite or calcium montmorillonite clay compared with animals fed the basal diet. The main element components of the clays were aluminum (10%), iron (3%), and magnesium (0.5%) (as well as sodium in the sodium montmorillonite, 1%), with small amounts (usually less than 0.1%) of barium, cesium, manganese, strontium, zinc, and zirconium. The authors concluded that at this dietary level, the clays did not liberate significant amounts of trace elements (Wiles et al., 2004).
Question: Is aluminum in Clay Dangerous?
Answer: No. Myths about clay and the elements that make up a clay molecule are rampant. One deals with aluminum. Clay is a super stable compound. All of the elements that make up clay are bound together and act as a whole. Aluminum silicate is a crystal compound, and cannot be utilized by the body. Aluminum in this form is completely inert. As long as the aluminum is bound in this form, it poses no health risk. The aluminum in clay is never in an isolated form, and is not absorbed into the body. Processed aluminum or free aluminum are positively charged toxins and are the ones absorbed into the body that cause harm.
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