The Trend of Eating Bentonite Clay: Health Implications for Women

by Louisa Afful
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In a surprising and growing trend, some women in Ghana have taken to eating bentonite clay, locally known as “ayilo.” This non-food item, typically used for detoxification and medicinal purposes, has found its way into the daily diets of many, sparking curiosity and concern among health experts.

The consumption of ayilo is often linked to cravings during pregnancy, known as pica, a condition that drives individuals to eat substances with no nutritional value. Many women report that the earthy taste and texture of ayilo help alleviate morning sickness and other pregnancy-related discomforts. Others believe it can purify their bodies by absorbing toxins, a traditional belief that has persisted over the years.

However, while the practice may seem harmless or even beneficial to some, medical professionals warn of significant health risks. Bentonite clay contains trace amounts of heavy metals like lead, which can accumulate in the body and cause serious health issues. Prolonged consumption can lead to lead poisoning, resulting in anemia, kidney damage, and neurological problems.

Additionally, eating large amounts of ayilo can cause digestive issues. The clay can harden in the intestines, leading to constipation and even intestinal blockages, which may require medical intervention. There is also the risk of nutrient deficiencies, as the clay can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients from food.

Despite these risks, the allure of ayilo remains strong for many women, driven by cultural beliefs and the immediate relief it provides from certain symptoms. Health authorities are now calling for increased awareness and education on the potential dangers of this practice. They urge women to seek safer alternatives for managing cravings and pregnancy-related symptoms.

As this trend continues to capture attention, it highlights the need for a deeper understanding of traditional practices and their impact on modern health. The story of ayilo serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between cultural traditions and scientific knowledge in the pursuit of well-being


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