Diatomaceous earth (fossil flour) is the fossilized shells of microscopic water-dwelling organisms known as diatoms. Diatoms are one-celled plants (algae or phytoplankton) that are the primary food source for marine life. These plants have been part of the earth's ecology since prehistoric times, yet their species still exists today in both salty and fresh waters all over the world. Diatoms use soluble silica (sand) from their environment to make their shells, or exoskeletons. As diatoms die, their shells fall to the bottom of the bodies of water in which they live. It is believed that 30 million years ago the diatoms piled up to form thick beds of chalky fossilized sediment. These beds, known as diatomite or diatomaceous earth, were discovered after the waters receded. Today, hundreds of large deposits of diatomaceous earth occur all over the world. Some are
still underwater and some are found in ancient dried lake bottoms. It has been estimated that
one cubic inch of diatomaceous earth may contain as many as 400 million shells, that’s how small diatoms are!
Some of the most recent studies show that it can strengthen bones and joints, prevent osteoporosis and restore bone health if you already have osteoporosis, boost the immune system, ward off Alzheimer’s, prevent premature aging and wrinkling of the skin, and strengthens the arterial walls to maintain good heart health. Another of the benefits of silica is that it helps to destroy bad fats in the body. Used as a daily treatment, diatomaceous earth can alleviate the potentially deadly risks of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity. Additionally, because of its physical structure, diatomaceous earth is a highly effective anti-inflammatory and internal cleansing agent for the body. It can remove intestinal bacteria, parasites, e-coli, viruses, pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins. It has also been known to assist with vertigo, headaches, tinnitus, and insomnia.
It’s all about the silica.
Due to processed and GMO foods, along with overused soil and pollution, there are limited numbers of foods that contain an adequate amount of the absorbable form to supply the quantity our body needs. Only about 1/3 of needed silica for our bodies is supplied in food. Silica is the most important trace mineral for human health. It plays an important role in many body functions and has a direct relationship to mineral absorption. For optimal health, the average human body needs to hold approximately seven grams of silica, a quantity far exceeding the figures for other important minerals such as iron and calcium.
Silica can be found in such foods as alfalfa, beets, brown rice and oats. Bell peppers and leafy green vegetables also provide silica, while asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, parsley, sunflower seeds and grain husks, such as barley, millet and wheat contain smaller amounts.
In our youth, our tissues absorb and maintain high levels of silica— enabling our bodies to remain flexible, resilient, and energetic— but as we age, and as our dietary sources of silica are not meeting our needs, our silica levels steadily decline until they become almost non-existent. In fact, 80% of all of our body’s silica is used up by the time we become adults.
Our bodies need silica regardless of our age and even when diet is not the primary factor in cases of deficiencies, we often become deficient in this essential trace element simply thorough the aging process. The effect of this steady decrease in silica levels is a progressive decline in health, increasing fatigue and acceleration of the aging process.
Diatomaceous earth, which is very high in the absorbable form of silica, can replenish silica levels in the body, which can vastly improve your health and reverse many chronic problems. Studies show that high levels of silica can:
Improve Bone Health and Stop Osteoporosis: Calcium and vitamin D alone are not sufficient for bone growth, density, strength, and flexibility. In fact, the body cannot absorb and use calcium without the presence of silica. Recent data suggests that instead of promoting healing, calcium supplements actually speed up the leeching away of bone calcium and accelerate the degenerative process of osteoporosis and similar diseases that affect the connective tissues in the human body!
To re-mineralize and repair damaged bones, it is now advised that a sufficient silica supplement be taken daily because bones are composed of mainly of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium and calcium; however, these minerals need the presence of silica to be deposited into the bones, especially calcium. Silica hastens the healing of fractures and also diminishes scarring at the location of a fracture. A great deal of research evidence indicates that silica has the ability to “morph” itself into calcium through a transmutation process. Yes, silica actually has the ability to be turned into calcium when there is a calcium deficiency and the body needs it!
Ward Off Alzheimer’s: Scientists and researchers have long hypothesized that Alzheimer’s disease is linked to a build up of aluminum in the brain, and links between aluminum in drinking water supplies and Alzheimer’s have now been ascertained. A factor that had been overlooked is that silica reduces the accumulation of aluminum. When researchers added silica to aluminum-laced water supplies, it inhibited the aluminum from being absorbed. It also caused a proliferation in the excretion of aluminum in urine and lowered aluminum concentrations in the brain, liver, bone, spleen and kidneys. Silica, therefore, may be important in supporting neurological health.
Improve Heart and Lung Health: Silica can hinder the effects of coronary disease by fortifying blood vessels. Studies confirm that with age, silica disappears from the aorta, the heart's key blood vessel— thus weakening its critical connective tissue, and resulting in a greater cardiac risk. Studies have shown diatomaceous earth to significantly lower cholesterol by removing plaque and keeping arteries and veins supple. It also helps to regulate blood pressure. Silica also aids in the repair and maintenance of vital lung tissues and defending them from pollution.
Stop Premature Wrinkling and Sagging Skin: Silica is excellent for supporting bones and connective tissue. Your body needs healthy connective tissue for internal organs and the largest organ which is your skin. And you probably know that degrading connective tissue, with age is why wrinkles appear and skin begins to sag. Perhaps it is not age, but rather not enough silica that makes this happen. Collagen, which is mostly made up of silica, is the glue that holds us together. Collagen accounts for up to 75% of the weight of the dermis and is responsible for the resilience and elasticity of the skin. (I wash my face daily with a paste made of DE and coconut oil).
Our connective tissues consist of collagen, elastin, mucopolysaccharides and mucous carbohydrates which aid in moisture retention. Their capacity to hold on to moisture keeps the connective tissue resilient and has apparent importance in the prevention of premature aging. All these valuable molecules house large quantities of silica.
Also, many people with advanced arthritis suffer from bone deformation when tendons and ligaments in the joints lose flexibility due to loss of collagen. Tendons and ligaments need silica for health and flexibility.
Boost the Immune System: Silica may play an important role in the immune system and its biological response to harmful stimuli. Silica is necessary for the body to produce antibodies that fight off viruses, bacteria, allergens and other invaders that the body views as foreign.
Teeth and Gums: Mix a bit of DE into your toothpaste to help whiten teeth and combat gum disease/deterioration.
Other Ways Diatomaceous Earth Can Improve Your Health
One of the most sought after benefits of diatomaceous earth is to cleanse the digestive tract. Many people consume a variety of processed foods, which contain various harmful chemicals and toxins. Plus, as air quality has decreased, we are constantly putting more toxins in our body that need to be removed.
Diatomaceous earth can purge any parasite, virus, bacteria, or toxin that is clinging to our digestive tract. While diatomaceous earth feels like a soft powder, the truth is that diatomaceous earth is actually a small cylinder with extremely sharp edges. As we consume diatomaceous earth, these sharp edges scrape away parasites, toxins, and viruses clinging to the lining of our digestive tract. Plus, any toxins or bacteria floating in our digestive tract are absorbed and trapped by diatomaceous earth. It has also been shown to cling to bad fats in the body, effectively reducing bad cholesterol. Diatomaceous earth is then expelled through our bowel movements and these harmful materials are removed.
Our skin and organs are strong and thick enough not to be affected by these sharp edges, which is why we feel no pain taking diatomaceous earth. After a few days, the body’s digestive system can be thoroughly cleansed and can operate much more efficiently.
Most deposits of diatomaceous earth are from salt water sources, while only a few are from fresh water sources. Of the hundreds of DE deposits that exist worldwide, only 4 of them can be called food grade. The DE sourced from fresh water beds are of extremely high purity--so pure that it is called Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth, or also known as fossil shell flour. Food grade diatomaceous earth, the only form safe for human consumption, is a white powder, while other forms of diatomaceous earth may have a brown/reddish tint.
Bottom Line: ONLY use Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth for health purposes!!! Food grade diatomaceous earth is the purest form of diatomaceous earth and can be consumed and used by humans. Food grade diatomaceous earth is heavily regulated and must contain less than a certain amount of specific minerals.
I use food grade DE with added calcium bentonite for better nutrient absorption, more calcium and even greater health benefits.
How Much to Take – How Safe Is It?
It mixes easily into liquids and foods. Mix it into water, juice, smoothies or other foods. Start with a level teaspoon once a day, either an hour prior or 2 hours after a meal for a week or so. You can increase it to whatever works for you up to 2-3 tablespoons twice a day as a regular supplement.
Silica is water soluble; hence, once you get it into your body it easily absorbed via the intestinal wall and is also rapidly excreted. It does not accumulate in the body, so consistent daily supplementation is important. Studies have not found any negative side effects from too much silica. Its safety and extensive range of uses makes silica one of the most important minerals used in complementary therapy and alternative medicine. Regular supplementation could make a significant difference in your health.
Being approved by the FDA, Diatomaceous Earth has absolutely no dangerous side effects. It can be used by anyone, as long as the person doesn't suffer from a serious illness. As with any other health supplement, talk to a doctor before using DE. You might have some intolerance to it, so it's advisable to not risk your health. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers can use it as long as their doctor has agreed.
Most of the above information was provided by Dee McCaffrey of the CDC on April 2, 2016
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