Saturday, September 24, 2005

Eating Clay

Something I ate on Thursday made me violently sick in the small hours of Friday morning. This is the second time that this has happened to me while living in France. All Friday I was feeling weak and lifeless. I rang the boss to say I wasn't coming to work in the morning. I also rang the doctor. She said she was booked up all morning and that I would have to ring again after lunch. I did ring after lunch and she gave me an appointment for 6 o'clock in the evening. It always amazes me how busy doctors are! Actually, I don't rate this doctor very highly, but all I needed really was some evidence that I had been ill for work.

As I expected, (see my previous post on French medicine junkies) she prescribed me three different kinds of drug, one in case of nausea, one in case of vomitting etc. which I was supposed to put under my tongue. You need only buy these if the symptoms come back, she said. But what about the discomfort of my digestive system or my loss of energy? Not a word about that at all.

When I got home, I started delving in our medecine box and pulled out some sachets of 'Smecta' a product precribed to me by a different doctor the last time I had the 'gastro' bug. 'Smecta' is a much more sensible treatment. Basically, it is a sachet of smectite clay that you dissolve in water and drink down. It tastes like clay as well.

Clay has been used as a intestinal cure for centuries. I am reading a book at the moment called 'Magie d'Argile' (Magic of Clay) by Michel Beauvais (published by Flammarion). It is a very interesting summary of the importance of clay to human societies and includes a whole chapter on the healthy properties of clay.

The use of clay for medicinal purposes is known back to Mesopotamian times (as evidenced by cuneiform tablets), but Pliny seems to have been one of the first to write about the virtues of clay from the mountains around Naples as a cure for stomach and intestinal ailments in his 'Natural History' of the second century A.D. By the Middle Ages, clay was a standard medicine in the apothecary's cabinet, considered almost a miracle cure.

Clay is absorbative, analgesic, anticongestive, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, detoxifying, bacteriacidal, healing, remineralising and re-equilibriating. As well as a cure for digestive upsets, it can be used as a poultice over wounds.

Today, the most commonly used clay is 'bentonite' which according to this article is a trade name used for montmorillonite clay. Montmorillonite, as the name suggests, was first identified in France. The name Smectite is sometimes also used. Bentonite clays are quite restricted in their occurrence. They are weathered volcanic clays that were formed during the Cretaceous period. When dissolved in water, they expand to act like a sponge that can soak up toxins.

I had a couple of portions of clay yesterday, together with some packets of salts to help me rehydrate (also not prescribed by my doctor). I feel a lot better today.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

That actually makes a lot of sence. We use a clay like product inventinly named MUD, to draw out infections on horses and to keep inflamation down. works great.