Why clay is an antibacterial Trojan horse

Certain types of green & blue clay have been proven to be effective against antibiotic resistant bacteria & have been successfully used to clear bacterial infection. Lynda Williams a clay chemist with Arizona State University, has been researching clay’s antibacterial properties for over a decade and wanted to understand the mechanism of clay’s antibacterial action.

She received an unexpected email from Brunet de Courssou, wife of a French diplomat to the Ivory Coast, who found villagers suffering from Buruli ulcers, an infection caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, which is prevalent there. She treated the villagers with a family remedy: green French clay.

In the lab, blue-green clays with small dust mite sized particles were heated to purify them of natural microbes and mixed with distilled water. Adding water, releases elements such as iron and aluminum from the clay into the water-clay mixture, which needs to be acidic (with a pH of less than 5) or alkaline (pH above 9) to attack the bacteria.

The team then placed the clay-water mixture into test tubes with healthy bacteria. After a day of incubation, the researchers put samples into petri dishes, waited another 24 hours, then counted the number of bacterial colonies that grew or were killed. Using a microscope, the team also observed the chemical interaction between the bacteria and the clay.
Aluminium attacks the bacteria’s cell wall, creating an entryway for iron. Iron enters the cell through the newly opened holes, oxidizing the bacteria and slowing down its growth.

The minerals form stacked crystalline layers with spaces in between that can store and release ions over time. It’s a Trojan horse manoeuvre. The bacteria are normally scavenging iron, so when they encounter the iron rich clay, the don’t have the mechanism to shut off the iron. Suddenly the overabundance of iron oxidises the bacteria.

Of the four clays investigated, three killed bacteria within 4 hours to 1 day. The Oregon blue clay killed 100% of bacteria, including one strain of antibiotic-resistant E. coli and one strain of antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus. The Walker clay from Nevada successfully killed 99%–100% of all bacterial species, and the Argicur French clay killed 84%–100% of bacteria. One French clay wasn’t effective because its pH was 8.

Her team also investigated how the clay interacts with biofilms, which are coatings that colonies of bacteria use to protect themselves from potential threats. Biofilms make it harder for antibiotics—and ions from clay—to infiltrate.
“The most exciting thing is that this is clearly working by a different mechanism than antibiotics, which are a problem for humans right now,” says Williams. People “are exposed to too many antibiotics and bacteria are figuring out ways to resist those.” Ironically an ancient folk remedy may be the best way to circumvent bacteria’s defenses to 20th century antibiotics.

Many with skin issues have bacterially imbalanced skin caused by incorrect skin ph, a damaged skin barrier, lifestyle & inferior personal care products. The bacteria Staphylococcus aureus is overrepresented in over 90% of patients with moderate to severe dermatitis. These bacteria can produce biofilms that occlude sweat ducts which inhibits sweating & affect the balance of the acid mantle.

We have created the Aether Healing Clay with a blend of French Green Clay, Bentonite Clay & citric acid for PH balance. Use it every few weeks as a deep facial detox or on infected, itchy or congested skin to balance the skin microbiome.

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