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Clay as Medicine: For Your Pets and You - by Dr. Madeleine Mariani, ND, PhD
Many wild animals, and some people, develop 'pica,’ a craving to eat earth, when ill. The clay assuages diarrhea and binds to many poisons. Among the most famous clay-eaters are the parrots of the Amazon. Scarlet macaws, blue and gold macaws, and hosts of smaller birds excavate the best clay the riverbank. Parrots' regular diet is tree seeds, and when the trees defend their seeds with toxins, the clay acts as a natural buffer to the toxins.

Ranchers have known for years that sickly cattle would take themselves across the clay banks and feed on them until their health returned. Free-ranging cattle dig into the sub-soils to access clay.

We have all seen and heard stories of animals eating dirt or rolling in dirt. There is a reason.  They are seeking certain natural trace minerals they need for their diet. Clay is known as a natural source of many trace minerals. Bentonite clay is known for its ability to detox, cleanse and stimulate circulation. Indians have known about its healing qualities and have used it for centuries.

This simple natural substance can help heal your animals from scrapes and digestive troubles. Bentonite clay can clean the digestive track so that animals can better absorb and benefit from the nutrients in their food. It is also a natural vermifuge (wormer) and removes intestinal parasites without harmful chemicals. Benefits include an increase in energy, shinier coats and healthier pets.

It is also perfect for skin disorders such as mange, cuts and abrasions, sprains or rashes. The clay acts as an analgesic, quickly reducing the pain of itching, speeding the healing process and reducing the build up of scar tissue. Plus, if the animal licks the clay, it won’t hurt like many medications will.

Internally, it cleanses the digestive track of positively charged ions, which are bacteria, viruses and fungals as well as removing parasites. By assisting the body in detoxing, it aids the liver and kidneys, which are greatly overworked by toxins.

Hydrated clay is the best for burns, cuts, sprains, bruises and even removes warts. A mixture of clay with arrowroot and cornstarch (all natural ingredients) absorbs odors while soothing the skin.  Clay can also be used for insect bites like fire ants and bees. It immediately begins pulling out the poisons. 

Many Studies have shown the benefits of clay for animals. So use it. They will thank you for it! Needless to say, there are many of these benefits for people too.

Madeleine Mariani, ND, PhD is a doctor of Naturopathy based in Encino, CA. Contact her at



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