Click to join our
About Clay Group
Drugstore in the Dirt -
October 25, 2007
French clay that kills several kinds of disease-causing bacteria is
at the forefront of new research into age-old, nearly forgotten, but
surprisingly potent cures. Among the malevolent bacteria that a
French clay has been shown to fight is a "flesh-eating" bug (M.
ulcerans) on the rise in Africa and the germ called MRSA, which was
blamed for the recent deaths of two children in Virginia and
"There are very compelling reports of clay treating infections, but
that's anecdotal evidence, not science," said Lynda Williams, an
associate research professor in the School of Earth and Space
Exploration at Arizona State University, Tempe. Williams is
coordinating three teams of U.S. researchers (at ASU, USGS, and SUNY-Buffalo)
studying healing clays under a two-year, $440,000 grant from the
National Institutes of Health-National Center for Complementary and
Alternative Medicine. Her ASU colleague Shelley Haydel is lending
her expertise in clinical medicine to perform the microbiological
For thousands of years, people have used clay to heal wounds, soothe
indigestion, and kill intestinal worms. Though the practice has
declined in modern times, the recent rise of drug-resistant germs
has scientists looking more closely at these ancient remedies to
learn exactly what they can do and how they do it.
"We're beginning to generate the first scientific evidence of why
some minerals might kill bacterial organisms and others might not,"
In laboratory tests at ASU's Biodesign Institute, co-PI Haydel, an
assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences, showed that one
clay killed bacteria responsible for many human illnesses,
including: Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant S.
aureus (MRSA), penicillin-resistant S. aureus (PRSA), and
pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli).
It also killed Mycobacterium ulcerans, a germ related to leprosy and
tuberculosis that causes the flesh-eating disease Buruli ulcer. This
effect was first described in 2002, by Line Brunet de Courssou, a
French humanitarian working in the Ivory Coast, Africa, who cured
Buruli ulcers with daily applications of French clay she knew from
childhood. Currently, advanced cases of Buruli ulcer can only be
cured by surgical excision or amputation.
The new medicinal clay research will be presented on Monday, 29
October 2007, at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in
In the same session there will be a related presentation describing
the work 100 years ago of Julius Stumpf, a German physician and
scientist who used white clay from Germany to treat a deadly form of
Asian cholera; diphtheria; gangrene; ulcers of the tibia (a bone
between the knee and foot); and the skin disease eczema.
Source: Geological Society of America
Have an article, question or comment you would like to submit?