Jungle Bird Geophagy
Geophagy, or the phenomenon of eating mineral bound clay is not exclusive to macaws. While six species of macaws are known to frequent exposed Amazonian clay deposits in cliffs bounding rivers and waterways, nearly a dozen parrots, parrotlets, and lorikeets also known to be geophagas ("clay-eaters").
Even Australian Cockatoos have been documented to seek out clay for medicinal and remedial purposes. It is suspected that cockatiels, budgerigars (parakeets) toucans and other tropical birds may also benefit from a wide assortment of trace minerals found in certain kinds of clays.
Shamans and doctors have used clay for a thousand years
Over the centuries the ancients have known of the healing properties of the so-called, edible clays. Civilizations as culturally diverse as the Essenes, Chinese, Mayans and Anasazi practiced clay healing. In the southwestern deserts of the USA and Mexico, fabled medicine men regularly trekked up to 100 miles to their prized caches of living clay. Today, clay is being rediscovered not only for mud baths and facials, but also as a topical application for a plethora of human skin problems including: acne, sunburn, Eczema, Psoriasis, and warts. Coupled with internal usage (usually 650mg of 30 - 60 mesh material in capsules or tablets, taken twice daily, in-between meals), steady testimonials stream-in to beauticians, practitioners and health consultants alike, about the reduction of wrinkles, sun spots, varicose veins, and heavy metal accumulations in the vital organs. Several physicians have gone on-record commenting about the positive affects clay, particularly montmorillonite, has had on temperament, and the psychology of certain troubled individuals.
How could an item as simple as clay perform so many wonderful "cures"?
Clay absorbs (takes matter into its molecular structure) and adsorbs (causes foreign material to stick to the outside of its tiny particles) heavy metals, trace elements, organic substances, and other minerals. These often come with the package, so to say. When a person or jungle bird for that matter, ingests one of the wholesome clays, the colloidal substance goes to work cleansing the living thing from impurities, as well as, remineralizing it at the same time. Unwanted deposits of heavy metals are removed from the body while required elements are replenished. Toxins and pathogens are purged, hence inflammation, diminishes. As the body re-acquires the essential building blocks from the clay and rids itself of undesirable matter, the whole metabolism benefits. The organism is now better able to defend itself from a whole plethora of parasites, and returns to an improved absorption and elimination routine because it now digests its food more fully. Friendly bacteria can actually flourish in an environment where clay has been administered. This means that neither we, nor the animals, have to eat as much to acquire the nutrition we seek because the trace elements in the clay induce and speed up vital reactions leading to better assimilation of nutrients.
The Trace Elements are the Key
Certain trace elements (i.e., those only required in tiny, or "micro" amounts) have these catalytic properties, hence are known as "essential trace elements". Everybody knows about electrolytes (sodium, potassium and chlorine) and the "macro" elements such as, calcium, nitrogen, carbon, and to a lesser extent, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, sulfur, and manganese that are commonly added to the food we eat, or are constituent parts of our normal diet, or the air we breathe. However, there are over 100 elements appearing on the accepted Periodic Table, and at least 90 of them occur in nature. In other words it does not take nuclear science to be able to observe them. If growers and food packagers consistently add just 8-14 of the known "macro" elements to what is grown and eaten, is it any wonder why the world has so many undernourished, sickly-looking, obese and mentally disturbed people, ridden with cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, allergies and diabetes? Just like essential amino acids, we need the essential trace elements to function at an optimum level. When they are in our arsenal we start feeling more energy because not only do we rest better when it is time, but our circulation improves, providing us with more stamina and faster recovery from physical and mental stress. Minerals work synergistically with vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants and without them, you're dead. It is almost axiomatic that behind every illness, malady or deformity, there is a mineral deficiency of one type or another.
One of the finest clays for parrots and people alike, is montmorillonite. It is used in pet foods, human supplementation, for livestock and extensively in agriculture. Every member of the food chain benefits from it. Montmorillonite is rich in silicon, one of the most prevalent elements found in the heart and key to the structural integrity of plants and bones because of the synergy it creates with calcium and phosphorous. Furthermore, this particular clay's absorptive properties lend themselves well to introducing beneficial fulvic and humic acids (valuable organic substances) and the essential trace elements that piggyback along (i.e., boron, iodine, lithium, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, tin, etc.) while at the same time helping the body purge itself of accumulated mercury, and excess arsenic and lead by attracting these heavy metals to it. The previous chelation of the trace elements (hooking-on of atoms to amino acids and/or their suspension between peptides already in the clay)by now defunct organisms means that the vital trace elements come to us prepackaged in a format to which the cellular wall is receptive. Most living things expend too much energy, and inefficiently conduct their own chelating, so the ability of montmorillonite to introduce amino acids naturally acceptable to cellular absorption means enhanced bio-availability over mere ionic minerals with their different, and sometimes unacceptable, electrical charges.
There is more oxygen in dirt than in the air we breathe
Montmorillonite, an aluminum silicate, is a light, fluffy clay compared to silicon dioxide ("silica" or quartz dust), common sand. Its loose, irregular latticework allows for a greater flow of nutrients related to its enhanced cation exchange. It also contains an impressive amount of oxygen, about 50%, due to all of the various oxides found in the clay's other minerals. On the other hand air is only about 21% oxygen. It has been theorized that part of the energy-producing benefit experienced after using clay supplements for just 3 - 4 weeks, may have something to do with this abundance of mineralized oxygen.
Actual minerals are made up of at least one metal (such as silicon or copper), sometimes with the addition of a metalloid or poor metal (e.g., aluminum), and one or more nonmetals (such as fluorine, hydrogen or oxygen) that combine, taking advantage of Mother Nature's chemistry. The trace elements are usually found as part of minerals, but may also be found in their free, or metallic state, or as simple ions. For minerals or elements to become optimally bio-available they must first become chelated. If desired elements are part of a mineral then further chemistry must be undergone to either break them out again so that they can be chelated, or reduce the substances to simpler compounds so they can be utilized by a host in the nutritive process. Both montmorillonite and the humic acid found in it are colloidal substances. Montmorillonite's ultra-fine particle size obtained by screening, milling and micronizing is conducive to releasing its trace elements into solution quite readily. This kind of clay disassociates in water with simple stirring. The fulvic acid (which is water soluble) in the montmorillonite has already chelated many of the trace elements present. This enables the colloids to pick them up and provide a vehicle small enough to pass through tissues for maximum efficiency.
Better egg shells
For breeders of exotic birds and zookeepers, the benefits of introducing such a special clay to avians means:
- enhanced fertility
- increased survival rate of young
- fewer psychological abnormalities due to stress, malnutrition, confinement and lack of natural sunlight
- more beautiful appearance
- over all, healthier birds
Carlos Cortelezzi, VMD famous Argentine Polo Pony doctor, discovered that the montmorillonite clay mineral could be used for the prevention of laminitis and secured a USE PATENT to that effect. He also cured abceses and poor "toenail" development on an Indian elephant at the Buenos Aires Zoo administering the proper dosage of these same minerals. You can read more about his experiences and the articles he wrote by logging on to www.montmorillonite.biz. There you will also find detailed information about jungle birds and their clay-eating habits in the zoo section.
So, whether you are a horse fancier, jungle bird, ornithologist, or just a bird-lover, keep your eye on this blog for more information in the weeks to come. In the meantime you can read more about the particular deposit of the clay that was brought to the attention of Dr. Cortelezzi years ago by logging onto http://www.montmorillonite.org . It was actually discovered by escaped miners' burrows in 1930 that instinctively knew, like macaws and parrots, what they were lacking in their diet. The formation consists of lacustrine sediment in a remote desert area of Nevada. The colloidal minerals it contains and the broad, yet balanced bouquet of chelated, essential trace elements were formulated and accumulated as an integral part of the clay, entirely by Mother Nature in fairly recent geologic time . Therefore they do not come disguised as simply another ground up, rock dust (or quartz crystals), known as "silica'.
R. Joseph Collet JD