What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Eating a side of sand with crushed rock to improve your health might sound a bit strange, but it may just help improve your digestion and detoxify the body. The product is called Diatomaceous Earth (DE) otherwise known as Fossil Shell Flour. It is produced in powder form dug out from sedimentary soft rock. These rocks are high in a chemical compound called Silica, which is also found naturally in the human body to support bone health, stimulate collagen along with the creation and maintenance of connective tissue. It is one of the most important trace minerals required for optimal health and is necessary for every cell, gland, cardiovascular and nervous system functioning properly.
DE is often referred to as the 'grass of the sea' for all aquatic life forms. It is also considered an ancient treasure in the modern health world, by silica-advocates who are calling it mother nature's best kept secret and a true miracle mineral for human health.
Over time it has become difficult to reach our recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals through food, given our soils have been depleted of vital minerals.
It consists of fossilised remains of algae – tiny, aquatic organisms known as diatoms (microfossils) that have spent thousands of years collecting sediment in streams, lakes, rivers and the ocean. They’re found all over the world and their age ranges from around 100,000 to millions of years old.
These silica-containing deposits come in various forms including clay, quartz and sand. Its form is soft and easily crumbles into fine powder when cut away. Silica is naturally found in natures many forms whereas DE is a more concentrated source of silica. It is so versatile that not only is it sought after for health benefits, but it is also found in many products for industrial and commercial use.
DE also comes in the form of a dust, powder and pressurised liquids. Most tradesmen will have come across it being used in water filtration and it is also used in food manufacturing such as wine filtration, skin products and farming. It can be used both orally (food grade) and topically according to Doctor and Nutritionist, Josh Axe DC, DMN, CNS and Ginger Hultin MS, RDN, CSO, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. You can even used it to exfoliate your skin and combine with toothpaste to brush your teeth. It is also commonly used to help treat high cholesterol, as well as improve joint, bones and ligament health.
In the US, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have listed DE as “generally recognised as safe” since the 1960’s, however we must advise there is a difference between food-grade and filter-grade DE. In short, food-grade DE (amorphous – non-crystalline) is purified and considered safe for use around humans and animals, whereas filter-grade DE (sharp crystalline) contains harmful toxins of silica intended for strong industrial use.
Silica varies in its concentration for these two grades:
Food Grade: contains 0.5-2% silica and is used as an anti-caking agent, insecticide, farming and food industries. Its approved by the FDA, EAP and USDA.
- Filter Grade: contains upwards of 60% silica and is toxic to mammals. It is used only for industrial and water filtration purposes.
How does it work?
Under the microscope, this fine white powder to the naked eye turns into a honeycomb-like structure which gently exfoliates the toxins, bacteria and parasites out of the gut.
How to use DE?
People take DE in water, smoothies, or juice as a way to add more silica to the body and detox the digestive system. Its absorbent and mildly abrasive nature makes it capable of binding to heavy metals, toxins, and other junk, helping to expel them from the body. Its absorbent and mildly abrasive nature also helps with the detoxification process.
At the microscopic level, DE is much harder and rougher than bentonite clay. This means that while both substances can be used as internal cleansers, the abrasiveness of DE allows it to do some extra deep cleaning. DE is like mild sandpaper that moves through your system and scrubs off anything that shouldn't be there.
People who take DE internally report increased energy, decreased joint pain, better skin, thicker hair, improved digestive health, clearer thinking, and other improvements to their health.
To take DE internally, begin by taking one teaspoon in liquid daily at least one hour before or two hours after meals. You can increase your dose over time as your body gets used to taking it.
Some people experience flu-like symptoms when they first begin taking DE. This is caused by the toxins being dislodged and leaving your system. These symptoms should go away after a few days. If they persist or get worse, reduce your DE intake, and drink more water. Some people see positive results within a few days of beginning their DE intake, but if it takes longer for you, that's okay. It can take several weeks or more.
This content is strictly the researched opinion of BioHax Australia and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal doctor or health care professional. All viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither BioHax Australia nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their doctor before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.dial
The 27 evidence-based health benefits of Diatomaceous Earth:
- May help promote stronger teeth, bones and more flexibility in joints
- It has measurable effect on mineral bone density, as low bone mass often leads to osteoporosis
- May assist in strengthening hair and nails if you suffer from dandruff, hair loss or simply want stronger, shinier hair and nails
- Helps fight against parasites in all humans and animals
- Can help detoxify and strengthen your digestive system
- Can decrease bloating, gas and flatulence by helping create an unburdened digestive system
- Helps increase mineral and nutrient absorption through the digestive system
- Helps balance your hormone levels and regulate between magnesium and calcium in the body
- Silica helps maintain a healthy heart by keeping the arteries and blood vessel walls supple and strong
- Strengthens the immune system by producing antibodies and antigens it needs to fight infection
- Assists with collagen production which is the main protein found in skin and connective tissues
- Prevents the accumulation of heavy metals like aluminium toxicity in the body and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease due to long-term aluminium poisoning
- Can help lower blood pressure
- Has anti-inflammatory benefits through the magnesium content found in DE, along with its rich mineral makeup helping prevent early aging and obesity
- Magnesium found in DE is also known to assist with controlling type 2 diabetes
- May assist with preventing kidney gemstones and heal urinary tract infections
- Food grade DE may partially alleviate headaches, migraines, vertigo and tinnitus
- Silica is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust at 28%. Given its soft but sharp texture and composition, it can be used both internally and externally, where today it is common to find this mineral in numerous exfoliants and facial scrubs.
- Silica is also known to increase bone volume and mass which in turn would reduce the risk of bone fractures
- Ageing and poor health can lead to reduced hormone or thyroid activity and decreased silica absorption
- Helps kill dangerous viruses and purify our drinking water
- May be able helpful in reducing the risk of aluminium-induced dementia with DE being one of the best sources of silica in the world
- Can help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Silica is known for improving bone matrix quality along with facilitating bone mineralisation to help prevent post-menopausal osteoporosis
- Magnesium found in DE can optimise our central nervous system, moderate our anxiety levels and feel less stressed throughout the day
- Magnesium and calcium found in DE helps promote healthy sleep patterns
- Assists in reducing muscle weakness and fatigue
Diatomaceous Earth: “The Wonder Powder” and its origins.
“Quite simply, it is the naturally occurring remains of Bacillariophyceae algae, unicellular organisms that have been abundant in the world’s oceans, lakes, and rivers for at least 135 million years. Algae in this class are known as diatoms, from the Greek word meaning “to cut in half,” a reference to the two-part shape of their shells.
Each diatom secretes a silica shell to protect itself during life. When the numerous organisms perish, their hard shells and innards fall to the muck at the bottom of the sea or body of water. Today, thick deposits of the hard shells can be found in old lake or sea beds, where they are mined for various uses.”
- Extract from Woodlands Education
In 1939, Professor Adolf Butenandt (a Nobel prize winner or chemistry), provided that the humans cannot exist without the presence of silica in the body. His research was continued at the College of Columbia in 1972, which demonstrated silica is a vital nutrient and should be consumed continuously from natural food sources. An average human body contains approximately 7 grams of silica, which is more than other vital minerals such as iron and assist with the absorption of other minerals in the body.
Diatomaceous Earth Mineral Composition
Diatomaceous earth contains a range of trace minerals, including silica, calcium, sodium, magnesium and iron. Life Extension Magazine states your body has more than 7g of silica, present in various tissues and body fluids. It also more than any other trace mineral already specified. Silica is essential for other minerals to be properly absorbed by your body. A silicon deficiency can cause skeletal deformities given it’s the main nutrient for development of connective tissue (composed of cells which produce the fibrous protein matrixes of collagen and elastin).
What is the PH Level of DE?
The pH level (potential hydrogen – a scale used to rank the relative basicity of acidity or alkaline substances), falls between 7.5 and 9.0 depending on the batch.
What is the difference between DE and Clay?
Diatomaceous earth and bentonite clay are two very different natural substances. Diatomaceous earth is formed through the fossilizing of single celled diatoms in freshwater rivers and lakebeds that build up as sedimentary deposits over a long time. It is almost pure amorphous silica. Bentonite clay on the other hand is primarily montmorillonite, which is a group of minerals that can vary slightly depending on the type of bentonite. Both products are highly absorbent, but bentonite clay does not have the same abrasive properties as DE and so it cannot kill bugs and boost cleaners like DE can.
They are although they are two natural substances, DE and Clay are also very different. “Diatomaceous earth is formed through the fossilizing of single celled diatoms in freshwater rivers and lakebeds that build up as sedimentary deposits over a long time. It is almost pure amorphous silica. Clay on the other hand is primarily montmorillonite, which is a group of minerals that can vary slightly depending on the type of bentonite. Both products are highly absorbent, but clay does not have the same abrasive properties as DE and so it cannot kill bugs and boost cleaners like DE can.”
Is DE Certified Organic?
“The short answer is, it depends. While all DE is naturally occurring, any DE that has undergone artificial treatment may no longer be considered organic. It also depends on which standard you want to use to define organic. The diatomaceous earth sold on our site is certified organic by OMRI, the Organic Materials Review Institute. Not all food grade DE sold by others is OMRI listed. If you have concerns about whether the DE you purchased is organic to your standards, it is best to contact your supplier and check with them.”
What is the nutritional value of DE?
“There is negligible nutritional value to DE in terms of anything you would find on a Nutritional Facts panel for a food item. The value comes from its almost pure silica content, which is an essential mineral to all life, yet one that you won't see printed on any nutritional fact sheet. Your body uses silica to support many functions of your cells. DE aids the growth of many cells in your body, including those that build your joints, bones, hair, skin and nails.”
What are the calories in DE?
No. DE has no caloric value.
Does the consumption of DE help cure baldness?
“Generally, DE has limited effects on reversing baldness. Baldness can be influenced by many different factors including age, gender, nutritional deficiencies and various health conditions. In the case of nutritional deficiencies, DE can make a noticeable impact as it helps provide silica to produce collagen, which in turn promotes hair growth. For every other situation, DE will promote good health, but it is unlikely to restore a full head of hair”
Dr Josh Axe explains the possible side effects of food grade and filter grade Diatomaceous Earth:
Are there any side effects of DE?
"Although it’s generally recognized as safe to use on the body or to consume, some people react to DE by experiencing irritation and other side effects. It’s possible for diatomaceous earth to irritate the nose and nasal passages when you breathe it in, or if consumed in large amounts, it can contribute to coughs and shortness of breath.
It also has the potential to irritate the skin and cause some mild irritation and dryness. If you have sensitive skin, eyes or nasal passages, it’s a good idea to monitor your symptoms and watch out for any strong reactions. It’s also recommended that you keep DE away from babies and small children who might be more sensitive to DE’s effects and can react to it by experiencing irritations.
As far as long-term exposure goes, in animal studies generally no health effects have been observed even after applying diatomaceous earth to animals’ skin five times per week for several weeks. In a rat study, researchers fed rats high doses of diatomaceous earth for six months and found no evidence of reproductive or developmental effects.
That being said, the National Pesticide Information Centre states that there’s some evidence that inhaling a very small amount of crystalline silicon over a long period of time (the kind used in quantities in some types of diatomaceous earth, especially pesticides) might contribute to silicosis, bronchitis and other respiratory problems in a small percentage of cases. However, the risk seems low considering the vast majority of diatomaceous earth used in products for human consumption is amorphous, not crystalline.”
Pregnancy and breast-feeding
There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking DE if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. So best practice is to stay on the safe side and avoid use.
There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking DE for children. So best practice is to stay on the safe side and avoid use or consult your doctor for advice.
Important Note: Ensure the brand of DE you purchase is labelled “Food Grade” as there is also a filter grade DE, which is used for industrial purposes, such as swimming pool filtration.
What is the recommended dosage for food grade DE?
Here are the recommended steps for safely using DE by Dr Josh Axe, as a detoxification agent and to protect bones and joints:
- Take about one teaspoon of food-grade diatomaceous earth with water once a day. It’s best used on an empty stomach at least one hour before or two hours after eating.
- Drink an additional cup of water after each dose of DE to improve its effects. In general, make sure to consume plenty of water with DE and stay hydrated.
- Increase your dosage slowly over several weeks, working your way up from one teaspoon to two teaspoons daily, or one tablespoon max. Split the dosage into two parts taken in the morning and one at night.
- Take DE 10 days on and 10 days off for 90 days to effectively and safely detox. Another strategy is to take it daily for a few weeks at a time as you track symptoms, stopping and starting again throughout the year. It’s safest when you give your body breaks and don’t use it continuously for very long periods of time.
- As a note of caution, initially you might notice some mild side effects that can develop as your gut environment changes, yeast dies off and your body releases stored toxins. This can include mild headaches, fatigue and flu-like symptoms, which should diminish within a couple weeks.
- It can also be added to bathwater for external detoxification of the skin.
What is the Shelf Life of DE?
Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring mineral that has been around for millions of years, and because it’s made from fossilised diatoms, it won’t age or expire. It is best stored in a dry environment to preserve its effectiveness. It does not need to be stored in the fridge but can be stored in plastic containers provided it’s air-tight. Glass is always preferred over plastic for any storage requirements).
Note: please remember DE is highly absorbent and will literally absorb anything in its surrounding environment, which if exposed could contaminate it and then be deemed unusable. But if you keep it clean and air-tight, your DE will be fine to use for years to come.
Health Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth
In this video, Dr. Berg talks about Diatomaceous Earth. It is a prehistoric fossilized phytoplankton. Food grade non-crystalline form diatomaceous earth can help clean pathogens and detox metals in the body. One of the biggest benefits of diatomaceous earth is the silica, the second most prevalent element.
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