The cleansing powers of Silica and Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is also known as DE or more commonly referred to as Silica. DE is not very well known but is quickly gaining popularity among the segment of the population who has become more health conscious.
But what is DE and how can it effect our health?
Food grade DE is 80% to 90% silica and has currently become the darling of the health supplement world. DE is a mineral supplement that has a loyal following of individuals that claim it’s many powers, from fending of Alzheimer’s to preventing wrinkles – but what does the science say? Where and how far down the rabbit hole are we going with a single-celled fossilized algae shell made of such a rich siliceous slime that is now craved by healthy longevity enthusiasts under the name orthosilicic acid or organic silica.
Before we discuss what DE can do for our health, we’ll talk about what DE is exactly and where it comes from. This information will give you a better idea of what you’re dealing with if you decide you want to give DE a try.
The first part of the mineral name “diatom” comes from microscopic algae that live in water, these algae are called diatoms. The algae’s hard shells become fossilized when they die, and make up the bulk of the final product diatomaceous earth – mined from ancient seabeds all over the earth.
The fossilized product is highly porous and has been used for years in all manner of industrial applications, everything from pool filters to dynamite. It’s also used as an abrasive in more common products like toothpaste and facial scrubs. You’ll find DE used as an anti-caking additive in things like coffee creamer and seasonings.
A cursory search on the internet will reveal that DE is a naturally-occurring rock dust that consists of these three things in combination:
- Iron oxide
Trace amounts of alumina and iron oxide are found, approximately 3% and 1% respectively. Scattered sources also claim that DE could contain any of the following: calcium, magnesium, sodium, titanium, manganese, copper, boron, and zirconium.
The chemical composition of DE is based on where is was mined, this causes a discrepancy in the make-up of the mineral. DE was first discovered in Germany between 1800 and 1850. Since that time other deposits have been located in the following places as well:
- Czech Republic
- Skye, off the coast of Scotland
- United States
According to the U.S. Geological Survey the majority of freshwater deposits of DE are found in the western states. A significant amount of DE that is used for industrial and food purposes is supplied by ancient lake beds. Even more insight has surfaced in late 2015 about diatoms vital marine productivity in the oceans as an essential part of the very essence of all aquatic life forms.
When we are talking about the health benefits of DE, we are really talking about what silica can do for you. Consequently, the studies discussed in the article mention silica or amorphous silica to be precise.
Diatomaceous earth is known by many names:
- Silicon Dioxide
- Diatomaceous silica
To ingest or inhale diatomaceous earth:
As you make your decision whether or not DE is right for you, you’re likely to find some scary government warnings associated with amorphous silica. Respiratory problems can be caused by pro-longed periods of inhaling of amorphous silica. DE does contain amorphous silica, but not the toxic from that causes damage when breathed. Amorphous silica must go through the process of calcification and become crystallized before it becomes a threat to health.
Warnings and guidelines have been issued by OHSHA concerning crystalline silica, in respect to where workers are exposed to the dust in the workplace. Workers who are in the milling process are most concerned with air quality.
You are safe if you purchase food grade DE as a dietary supplement, unless you break open hundreds of capsules and snort them. Although in the future be mindful of ‘diatom algae smart drugs‘.
Studies can be sited as far back as the 1930’s documenting the safety of ingesting silicon dioxide, DE has been used for decades in the food industry.
We’ll discuss what DE does for individuals that ingest it and why they choose DE. We’ll also compare what science is telling us about ingesting DE.
Some health-wise claims that some people have made about diatomaceous earth.
DE is an alleged miracle drug than do whatever you can think of, you’ll get the picture by reading a few reviews on Amazon. Following is a small sample, these are only claims reported not supported by scientific fact.
- higher energy levels
- absorbs E. coli
- cleanses the colon, detoxes and sweeps bacteria out of the body
- absorbs pesticide residues and drug residues
- lowers cholesterol levels and maintains healthy blood pressure
- assists with weight loss
- prevents osteoporosis
- promotes healthy hair, teeth, gums, and nails
- anti-aging properties
- treats urinary infections
- cures headaches
- helps with joint health and stops tissue degeneration
- prevents baldness
- cures eczema and acne, fades age spots
- treats burns, rashes, warts, frostbite, abscesses, and bed sores
- prevents bleeding gums and tooth decay
- protects your lungs from pollution and cures bronchitis
- prevents side effects of menopause
- reduces inflammation in the bowels
- prevents kidney stones
- raises metabolism
- cures tinnitus
- aids in sleeplessness and cures insomnia
- helps diabetes
- alleviates symptoms of Alzheimer’s
This is a very short list and could be longer, the benefits of DE seem to be endless due to the potentially positive silica effects on the body and anti-aging. This list of “benefits” is based solely on user testimonials, however these people claimed that DE cured them of all these things. With that said, we all know that self-reporting in the healthcare industry does have its flaws. People may feel better and report that they’re better, but they really can’t explain why they got better. It could all be just coincidence.
DE & Silica Research tells us the following:
Bone health could be the most exciting and significant use for DE. The number one, most critical aspect of elder heath care that we are aware of is bone health. The National Institutes of Health cites research in a medical and health journal that shows the effect of silicon on bone health.
This study mentions the fact that several minerals are important in our diet that prevent osteoporosis, a disease that the effects the body’s ability to recover from fractures and results in reduced bone mass. Vitamin D and calcium, we know for a fact help with those things as well. Also contributing to healthy bone mass are minerals like magnesium, potassium and fluoride
After zinc and iron, silicon is the third most prevent mineral in the body. Scientists have begun to show interest in the importance of silicon in our bodies.
According to studies in the 1930’s doctors believed that silicon was flushed away in the urine. However, in the 1970’s it was discovered that deficiencies in silicon in our bodies causes health issues, mainly in the connective tissues. Mush research has now been conducted that shows that silicon is important in our diet, specifically for bone health.
For almost 20 years now the positive benefits of diatomaceous earth on the blood cholesterol of humans has been known.
In the late 1990’s an eight-week study was performed on 19 people who were given diatomaceous earth. For the record, each of the participants had a high cholesterol history. The individuals took 250 mg of DE three times a day for the entire eight weeks. The results showed their serum cholesterol was reduced significantly. A check after four weeks of not taking DE showed their cholesterol levels remained lower.
The study showed the benefits of DE didn’t stop there. Researchers also discovered low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels were reduced as well, both benefits to the health.
A few DE myths, debunked.
As mentioned earlier DE can also be used as a detox agent. This is because the molecules have a jagged shape, this allows them to act as both a scraper and a sponge. The molecules absorb toxins as well drug and pesticide residue etc.
Where did this thought come from, and could it be true?
The diatomaceous earth molecules are in fact jagged, this could explain the cleansing properties of the molecules that have been claimed. The idea is that the jagged edges scrape at toxins clinging to the walls of the gastrointestinal system, and the sponge quality absorbs those toxins, once scrapped away and, carries them through the body then expelled through the urine.
These jagged edges are especially interesting to farmers, which hoped to use DE to remove parasites from their sheep and goats, However, after several studies, research showed that DE could not be proven to have any beneficial effect in this regard.
The studies also could not substantiate any improvement in anemia ether.
Thankfully we still have improved bone health and lower cholesterol levels, thanks to DE. Diatomaceous earth is available in supplement form from any major drugstore, just ensure that you get it from a quality manufacturer governed by quality standards and preferably in the United States. There are several large deposits of DE in the United States so food quality DE should not be hard to fine.
DE can also be added as a new supplement to your daily regimen of vitamins.
An interesting milestone in the United States was passed just a few short years ago; more than half of Americans were taking some form of dietary supplements. The CDC also states that the statistics concerning vitamins, minerals, herbs and other supplements in relation to the female population are even more impressive.
Among women in the United States, 59% of the population now take some form of dietary supplement.
That percentage is just a part of the large global supplement trade, known by insiders as the “VMS” (vitamins, minerals, and supplements) industry. This VMS industry is responsible for over $32 billion annually now, and is expected climb even higher by 2012 to unimaginable figures.
Currently the United States is the front runner with regard to interest in dietary supplements, the Philippines are a close second, which is surprising.
Nowhere in the world, other than the United States, is the market stronger for mineral supplements. In addition to DE the list would include iron, calcium, chromium, selenium and silica.
If the DE marketing campaign would just focus on the truth, there is more than enough research and evidence that diatomaceous earth is good for the body. Improved bone health, lower cholesterol or many of the science-backed benefits that are sure to come were not enough; the marketers feel the need to proclaim DE as a miracle drug that cures absolutely everything. You will find silica supplements online if you search – and for a few bucks, you could sign yourself up for what could be a beneficial guinea pig of an experiment with increased silica intake through a pure food grade DE powder. Let us know your experiences and feedback should you try.
There’s a lot going on in the medical arena as it relates to the field of nutrition research. DE holds many promises, keep an open mind about starting DE as a dietary supplement. There are many facts available for you to rely on, but there are also just as many myths. To your health!