What You’ll Learn

Category: Detox
  • Magnetic clay baths, otherwise known as pelotherapy, is a form of detoxification through our largest organ – the skin.
  • The clay has minerals in it that help pull heavy metals and microbes from the skin.
  • A 2015 study indicated the use of bentonite clay baths in helping speed the healing of dermatitis in infants caused by diapers. Surprisingly, researchers discovered that clay baths may actually work better than antibiotics, and appeared to have fewer adverse effects (7).
  • This article also recommends a specific magnetic clay powder that was tested by our medical team at NYCIM.

In recent years, the skincare market has seen a huge surge in popularity when it comes to clay face masks. Maybe you’ve heard of them or you’ve used them yourself. All in all, clay is considered detoxifying as it absorbs the excess oils in the skin.

And here’s something you maybe didn’t know: The use of clay as treatment, including skin care, is called pelotherapy. And interestingly, clay isn’t just limited to therapeutic use on the face. A number of doctors now regularly advise patients to use magnetic clay baths as an additional detox regimen for various ailments. In other words, if toxicity is a factor, then magnetic clay baths may be recommended to further accelerate the detoxification process and to eliminate causative factors.

Why Clay?

Through the time of mankind, clay has been used for health and wellness purposes. It’s readily available in nature. It’s relatively inexpensive. And it has an array of different minerals in it that help pull heavy metals and microbes from the skin [1].

It has even been suggested that clay was used in Ancient Mesopotamia to aid in healing wounds. In relation to this, recent studies also indicate that clay, specifically bentonite, may reduce clotting time and promote wound healing [2, 3].

And it’s becoming more and more of an interest in the modern healthcare world. It’s been used to treat individuals with rheumatic, orthopedic, physiatric, and skin disease [4]. 

Clays are even used as components in various skin care products and pharmaceuticals. They are renowned for their unique physical properties, including absorbency, surface area, exchange capacity, heat capacity, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects [5].

In later sections of this article, we’ll explore how clay works, as well as the exact benefits it offers.

How Does Pelotherapy Work?

The skin is the body’s first barrier of defense. As such, the strengthening of this network is of the utmost importance. It allows the body to continue to function in an optimal, balanced, and safe internal environment. In turn, a strong first barrier of defense may allow the body to heal itself by eliminating other contributing factors. And bathing in the minerals that clay provides can help in this regard.

Essentially, pelotherapy, or magnetic clay baths, is a treatment method where you soak in a clay bath. The type of clay often used is called bentonite. Bentonite is comprised of ash from volcanoes and it has numerous minerals, including magnesium, potassium, silica, sodium, copper, calcium, and iron [6].

Related: 6 Products To Help You Detox from the Inside Out

The clay mixture often comes as a powder. About ¼ to a few cups are used per individual bath. Make sure to follow the instructions on the mixture you purchase to determine a sufficient amount. Most individuals soak for about 20 minutes to receive the most out of each bathing session.

During this time, the clay absorbs toxins or heavy metals. This is the detoxifying effect that you often hear people talk about when it comes to clay and its therapeutic use. The clay molecules and their minerals attract, bind, and accumulate toxic molecules and particles. After you bathe, you’ll often find hard spots or clusters of the clay on your body. This is likely where such binding has taken place. And don’t worry, they are easy to scrub or rub off [7].

But let’s dive a little deeper. What is really going on at a molecular level? 

Here’s a quick look: Toxins frequently carry a positive charge. Clay particles counteract this by carrying a negative charge, specifically when combined with water. Similar to how the opposite ends of a magnet are attracted to each other, so are the toxins and the clay. In this way, the clay molecules pull the toxins out from your skin.

In addition, bentonite acts as a barrier on the skin. It protects the skin from toxic organophosphorus transfer, which explains why individuals use it to treat skin inflammation, such as poison ivy or other types of dermatitis – which we will look at from a scientific research perspective below.

The Benefits of Magnetic Clay Baths

If there weren’t benefits, clay wouldn’t be considered therapeutic or a worthwhile treatment by experts and doctors alike. However, magnetic clay baths provide scientifically-proven and beneficial detoxification effects that impact the body and immune system in a variety of ways. In the following sections, we’ll explore the scientific studies and research in relation to these statements.

Related: 5 Ways to Revitalize Your Gut After Taking Antibiotics

Clay Baths Help Heal Rashes and Other Skin Disorders

The most well-known and prominent benefits of magnetic clay baths is its ability to help heal skin conditions, such as rashes and even wounds. 

A 2015 study indicated the use of bentonite clay baths in helping speed the healing of dermatitis in infants caused by diapers. Surprisingly, researchers discovered that clay baths may actually work better than antibiotics, and appeared to have fewer adverse effects [8]. 

Another study even found clay to be useful when it came to treating poison ivy. In fact, it not only helped speed up healing but also caused the poison ivy rash to completely disappear [9]. 

Another demonstration of clay’s detoxifying and anti-bacterial effects was shown when it came to topical application of it on Buruli ulcer, a flesh-eating infection frequently found in third-world countries. It was found to be effective in killing the bacteria causing this ailment [10].

Researchers and doctors further believe that these baths can aid in healing other infections and wounds. They appear to have detoxifying, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects. The clay absorbs the toxins and compounds causing these rashes and reactions. In turn, these toxins also don’t go farther than the skin barrier.

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Magnetic Clay Baths May Increase Overall Immune Function and Restore Balance in the Body

Clay has been found, as briefly explained above, to be very effective in killing bacteria causing infections and disease. In one specific study, researchers state that the minerals in clay have “intrinsic, heat-stable antibacterial properties.” Consequently, clay provides an affordable treatment option to combat various bacterial infections [11].

It is further speculated that clay may boost the immune system by removing toxins and other compounds that could potentially distract or inhibit the immune cells from healing. As such, clay baths have the potential to eliminate other contributing factors to disease and illness, which creates a better internal environment for healing.

Caitlin Policastro, NP, the Clinical Director of the New York Center for Innovative Medicine further elaborates on this, “People tend to neglect that our skin is a mirror to what is happening internally. The skin’s function as a pathway rather than a barrier system makes it one of the largest secondary organs for detoxification. Magnetic clay baths have the ability to adhere to and draw out toxins from our internal terrain via our skin in a mild but effective way by ‘pulling’ just as one magnetic pull toward another.”

In other words, magnetic clay baths restore balance to the body by removing toxins and improving circulation and healing. In turn, the body is better equipped to heal itself and move toward optimal health.

Some Research Indicates Clay May Protect the Skin Against UV Rays

Some research does suggest that clay could potentially help protect the skin from harmful UV rays. It’s thought that the clay absorbs these rays before they penetrate the skin [12].

Is It Safe?

While when used externally, clay is considered safe, more skin-sensitive individuals may experience an allergic reaction. 

As per any new skincare product, test a small amount on your skin before soaking in a full bath. Choose a small area on your wrist or forearm, then wait about 30 minutes or so to ensure you do not have a reaction to it. 

It’s also important to note that it is a natural compound. Thus, contamination may occur, such as with pesticides, heavy metals, or other substances. Yet, if you are purchasing clay bath powder from a reputable company, this risk should be lessened. 

Overall, topically applied clay is safe and beneficial to one’s health. In fact, many healthcare providers recommend it as an additional means to detoxify and aid the body in healing. The only way to find out if it works for you is to try it out. And again, make sure to follow all instructions on any purchased products to ensure safe usage. 

What Type of Magnetic Clay Should You Use?

There’s a ton of different magnetic clay bath options out there, but as we always say, quality determines results. We turned to the medical team at our clinic, NYCIM, to evaluate some different clay baths. One that showed to be free of toxins and a high-quality source was ‘Cosmic Element’s 100% Pure & Unrefined Bentonite Clay Powder’. It can be found on Amazon here

At Innovative Medicine, we believe in transparency. We want you to know that we are a participant in the Amazon Associated Program. This program is an affiliate advertising program. It is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon.com.

However, we only support quality products that we believe in and that have proven and tested benefits. We aim to provide you with accurate and reliable information so that you can make the best decisions for your health and well-being.

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Cosmic Element Bentonite Clay Powder

100% Pure & Unrefined 12 Ounce Premium Food Grade Calcium Bentonite Clay.

About IM Health Team

Our Innovative Medicine Health Team is a committed and impassioned group of individuals with focused efforts on exploring and shedding light on this comprehensive realm of healing - sharing insight on some of the most advanced, integrative, but most importantly, innovative topics in medicine - empowering you to be the healthiest version of you. Want to learn more? Here's our story.
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