Arizonan recommends eating clay to cure what ails you
By Shannon Levitt
Ran Knishinsky didn’t really plan to be an author when he went to college, though he loved to write. He was always more of an artistic guy – albeit one with a fascination with naturopathic medicine. So, when he had an opportunity after graduation to buy into a homeopathic pharmacy and health food store in Arizona, he grabbed it. And it was there that he began to take “a keen interest” in writing about something that was becoming one of his passions: geophagia, the practice of eating dirt.
It might seem a shocking notion to some. It certainly seemed so to Knishinsky when he was first introduced to the concept by a doctor who suggested he eat clay to make a ganglion cyst on his wrist disappear. The doctor explained that the clay could possibly remove some toxins from his system, thereby resolving the cyst. Knishinsky was skeptical that eating what he thought of as dirt had anything to do with healing, but he gave it a shot and found that, at least in this instance, “dirt” worked.
A 2012 article in Scientific American explored research suggesting that geophagia has been practiced both by humans and animals for thousands of years and that eating clay may have been an adaptive method of detoxifying. Pharmaceutical companies originally used the clay mineral kaolin to help make Kaopectate, which is used to treat diarrhea and digestive problems. Kaolin has since been replaced with a synthetic chemical in the U.S., but clay is still in both natural and pharmaceutical medications including in livestock feed to protect animals from toxins.
In 1998, Knishinsky learned that nobody had written about the topic in 20 years, so he wrote “The Clay Cure”. Recently, he discovered his book was selling more than ever, and he decided now would be the time to incorporate the past two decades of research on the topic and release a new edition.
On April 5, a revised and expanded 2nd edition titled “Healing with Clay” will be released by Healing Arts Press and distributed by Simon and Schuster. Additionally, Knishinsky has created Detox Dirt, an edible and pharmaceutical grade montmorillonite clay, which can be found at .
After his first foray into writing, Knishinsky wrote other books, then got his MBA and entered the pharmaceutical industry. He quickly got into brand management and became a consultant. It’s been an advantage knowing two sides of America’s health care industry: pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, an umbrella terms for all types of natural medicines and supplements.
“I’ve worked on both sides of the fence and I consider myself pretty lucky and blessed to have an opportunity to understand how both types of medicine work,” Knishinsky said.
During his career, he was a management consultant at Greater New York Hospital Association and worked with hospitals on a number of clinical and non-clinical issues, he said. From there he worked with large-scale pharmaceutical manufacturers in the commercial development of drugs.
“There’s a place for different types of medicine,” Knishinsky said. “There’s a place for naturopathic medicine, for homeopathic medicine and for allopathic medicine, and it’s all very interesting.” He noted that he’s followed the arguments around the COVID-19 vaccine and remembers 20 years ago when there was an equal skepticism of naturopathic supplements.
“My experience has given me a bird’s eye view into how pharmaceuticals are developed, and how they’re sold and promoted and I understand the clinical science and validation. I keep an open mind about natural medicine and pharmaceutical medicine and nothing is perfect.”
The clay packaged in Detox Dirt has been the subject of qualified, double-blind placebo-controlled trials.
He said that “there isn’t much that does real detoxification”. That’s the job of the liver and kidneys. However, he said, clay can act like a sponge absorbing toxins and carrying them through the GI tract and eliminating them through the feces.”
And he’s confident in the amount of scientific validation for edible clay that’s been done in the last 10 years and wanted to add to the data by rewriting his original book “to introduce people to this really unique and arcane subject matter.”
Born in Israel and raised in Arizona, Knishinsky is a Managing Partner at Arizona Boardwalk, a tourist attraction in Scottsdale. Though his family and the Boardwalk keep him busy, working on the book has allowed him to follow his passion again. “I love writing about such a unique subject matter,” he said.
And in terms of his Detox Dirt, like the slogan of the old Hair Club commercials, he’s not just the owner, he’s a customer. He and his wife, Alma, and his two daughters, Danit and Yael, all take the clay cure.
Shannon Levitt is a freelance writer in Greater Phoenix.