Calcium bentonite is a type of clay that featured largely in the folk medicine traditions of indigenous North American, South American, African and Australian cultures for generations. Modern alternative medicine practitioners recommend using the clay to treat a wide variety of internal and external problems, including those women may experience during pregnancy. However, health professionals contend that pregnant women should avoid using calcium bentonite clay without medical supervision.
Calcium bentonite clay is derived from ancient volcanic ash deposits located in different parts of the world including large amounts in the Midwestern region of the United States. The clay can absorb tremendous amounts of water; when it does, proponents of its use claim that it swells and creates a porous mass that attracts and binds electrically-charged toxins, minerals and chemicals, according to AboutClay.com. Because of the clay's strong absorptive properties, it is prescribed medically to treat heavy metal poisoning.
External Use During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, many women suffer from swollen feet and ankles as well as from facial acne caused by the large shift in hormone balances that naturally occurs during pregnancy. A bentonite clay mixture applied to the legs is a folk remedy for decreasing the swelling. Facial masks prepared from calcium bentonite may prevent or decrease the severity of acne by absorbing excess bacteria and oil from the face without drying the skin, according to . Using bentonite clay packs externally has been a typical skincare recommendation of alternative medicine practitioners for years, although its safety as a skin treatment for pregnant women has not been confirmed with solid scientific evidence.
Internal Use During Pregnancy
According to alternative medicine practitioners, consuming small amounts of calcium bentonite clay -- 1 to 2 tablespoons -- mixed with water daily can help treat pregnancy-induced nausea and prevent the development of spider and varicose veins in the legs. AboutClay.com reports that author Michel Abehsera's book "The Healing Clay" recommends combining daily clay consumption with clay baths and frequent clay mixtures applied to the legs as the optimum way of preventing varicose veins. Naturopaths claim that bentonite clay's strong absorptive and adsorptive properties help clear the body of toxins and that this detoxification helps decrease nausea and strengthen the walls of veins. However, neither internal use of bentonite clay is advocated by standard health care professionals.
Possible Side Effects
Calcium bentonite clay may interfere with the proper function of prescribed medications. It can also cause blood pressure to spike and can be dangerous for people who suffer from iron intolerance to consume regularly. Because of these potential side effects, pregnant women who are on medication or who have high blood pressure should avoid using bentonite clay. When used topically, calcium bentonite can cause skin reactions in people who are allergic to compounds contained in the clay.
Commercial bentonite clay products are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; therefore, any calcium bentonite you may purchase has not been regulated for safety, effectiveness or purity. Additionally, using natural clays to cure internal conditions during pregnancy is not recommended by any major medical association. If you are pregnant, do not begin using calcium bentonite clay without first consulting your obstetrician.
Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.