A spoonful of clay a day keeps the impurities away… or at least that’s what advocates of the clay cleanse claim, including actresses Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz.
The treatment is nothing new though, with volcanic ash having been used in healing practices for centuries.
Perry Arledge, author of “Living Clay, Nature’s Own Miracle Cure,” explains that clay “is like a Pac-Man gobbling up all the waste… basically cleaning house from the mouth south.”
The logic is that it works inside your body the same way it does on the outside: Clay is a common ingredient in face masks and spa body wraps. It’s thought to sweep away newly absorbed toxins, neutralize acidity, soothe inflammation and cleanse the colon to boost the absorption of vitamins and nutrients.
For all those good properties, eating clay can come with some downsides. “The Herxheimer reaction is a short-term detoxification reaction in the body. It is caused by the release of toxic chemicals from the cell walls of dying bacteria due to effective treatment,” Arledge warns. There’s also a risk of iron deficiency, so clay cleanses aren’t meant to be done long-term, and you have to make sure to keep hydrated while on the cleanse.
As the body detoxifies, it is not uncommon to experience flu-like symptoms including headaches, general malaise, sweating, chills or nausea. Constipation is another common symptom for about 20 percent of people.
It may also change your bowel movements in an unusual way, taking on a metallic smell.
The other downer for the product is that it could, ironically, be detrimental to your health, with the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency issuing a warning about clay after high levels of lead and arsenic were discovered in some products.