Bentonite – Detoxification or Supplementary Food
by Thomas Bienbeck
It has been known for decades that many types of parrots eat loam. The exact reasons so far have been speculated on. It was, however, known that even the aborginies – the native people of Australia – used the effect of loam to make poisonous plants and fruit edible.
There are then two main hypotheses why birds eat loam. the first one said that eating loam is a natural way of detoxification. If there is only little food on offer and few less safe plants around, loam helps the birds to exploit the few available toxic plants. In addition, those toxic plants are more often those with a higher nutritional value. Some laboratory experiments have indeed shown that loam binds toxins and can keep them away from the blood system of a parrot. This subject was also pursued by James Gilardi and Catherine A. Toft at the Ocean Society in San Francisco, in their book with the title „Parrots Eat Nutritious Foods despite Toxins“.
They discovered a direct connection between plant chemistry and animal physiology. Parrots, numerous other birds but even reptiles and mammals search specifically ground areas directly above river banks or higher cliffs. This ground was examined more closely and it was established that the clay particles have a negative charge on their surface. The cation exchange capacity of these earths enables to bind the acid plant toxins rich in nitrogen and bitter substances in the animals‘ stomachs.
A subsequent experiment also proved a high tendency to bind toxic or bitter plant ingredients that could have been fatal for the animals. These include for example quinine and tannic acid. This follows that parrots eat this substance to absorb toxines from their food and make it easier to digest. There is, however, another effective side to this as swallowed clay particles make the cells of the digestive tract to produce more mucus. In this way the digestive tract is sustainably protected from being damaged by chemicals.
The second hypothesis said that clay acts as a food supplement for the birds. Long-term observations of nine types of parrots at the Peruvian ‚Lehmlecken‘ showed that eating clay reached a peak during breeding periods. Parents also fed their young ones with the clay. Elizabeth Hobson, behavioural ecologist and postdoctoral scientist at the Santa Fe Institute: „It is a time of feeding stress particularly for the female birds.“ The females need more energy to produce eggs and sufficient nutrients but also to feed themselves as well as the chicks. „Sodium is obviously something completely missing from nutrition. They possibly need more thereof in times of stress. „
Bentonite, the loam for home This loam for parrots kept at home is available in form of Bentonit loam.
Bentonite is a rock flour, a mixture of mineral earth from different clay minerals and was formed by the weathering of volcanic ashes.
The name Bentonite originates from the place, where this healing and the good earth was discovered for the first time, in Fort Benton, a small town in Montana, U.S. However, by now there are places in Germany and other countries around the world where this Bentonit is also found. Bentonit contains up to 95 per cent montmorillonite, a mineral of the so-called layered silicates. Its main ingredients are aluminium and silicon as well as sodium, calcium, magnesium, and crystal water. Therefore, Bentonit earth as a source of calcium is also a good supplement. Loam has long since been used in medicine to treat poisoning. Bentonite is also used in the preparation of food, here, however, already almost excessively. Many vets regard loam as a natural antacid; gastric acid is neutralised. The special structure of the mineral earth produces a strong binding force and thus has a detoxifying effect. Toxins from plants, auch Giftstoff e, die sich im Körper bilden, werden neutralisiert und ausgeschieden. but also Bentonit mainly have a negative ionic charge. If Bentonit particles come in contact with any substance that carries a positive ion charge, Bentonite draws this substance towards it like a magnet and holds on to it.
The Bentonit-harmful substance-complex is subsequently excreted with the stool. This does not only apply to plant toxins but also to heavy metals, pesticides, mycotoxins and metabolic waste and even radioactive elements.
Once having taken Bentonite loam, birds suffer less from diarrhea, gastroenteritis become less frequent and improve with the taking of Bentonite.
Bentonite and heavy metals
So far it has not been proved that Bentonit causes an exposure to heavy metals. When tests were carried out with pigs, Bentonit even reduced the existing increased lead concentration in the blood, brain, liver, bones, kidneys and fur. Also, observations with sheep showed that they were even protected from a copper exposure when taking Bentonit. Benonit added to the food, even helped goldfish that suffered from liver and kidney damage due to a cadmium poisoning.
With reference to herbicides there is evidence for the effectiveness of Bentonit. If grazing livestock eats, for example, big sage (Lantana camara), a highly toxic plant, a 5-day treatment with Bentonit additives helps to save the animals‘ lives. In a relevant test carried out, five of six calves in the Bentonit group that had eaten big sage survived. However, five of six calves in the control group died.
Bentonite and mycotoxins
Aflatoxins are natural toxins that are excreted by mould. They are extremely toxic for humans and animals. Even in a relatively low but steady concentration they damage the liver seriously and could be carcinogenic. Aflatoxins are considered to be one of the most serious carcinogenic compounds of all. For this reason, moulded-over food should be thrown away completely and not only have the mould removed. Unfortunately not every mould is visible and aflatoxins can be found also in rice, nuts, seeds or (and not only) in many edible substances.
Bentonit absorbs the dangerous aflatoxins directly in the digestive tract before they can develop negative influences. Studies show this quite specifically: the bio availability of aflatoxins was reduced by Bentonit quite considerably and without affecting the bio availability of vitamins or other micro-nutrients at the same time.
Bentonite relieves liver and kidneys.
Bentonit picks up pollutants, metabolic waste as well as bacteria and all mycotoxins already in the digestive tract such that they cannot get into the blood circulation via the intestinal mucosa and be distributed across the body. In this way liver and kidneys that normally have to look after the detoxification of these substances are greatly relieved.
Although the application of Bentonit is dead easy and inexpensive, Bentonit should not be given carelessly and above all not improperly. In case of symptoms of an illness, Bentonit should not replace medical assistance. Consult your ornithologically experienced vet and remember: Bentonit clay could influence the medication prescribed by your vet. Therefore please make sure you tell him about Bentonit. In naturopathic treating of animals, Bentonit is used regularly with success.