Diatomaceous Earth Benefits
Summary of Diatomaceous Earth Benefits
Supplementing diatomaceous earth has the following reported benefits:
- Makes skin more youthful and soft
- Cleanses parasites
- Improves joint health
- Increases bone density
- Makes hair grow faster and thicker
- Improves nail health
- Improves teeth and gum health
- Removes aluminium from body tissues
Diatomaceous Earth Benefits – A Closer Look at the Research and Reported Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth
A quick search engine query into diatomaceous earth benefits will return some seemingly profound benefits. It is said that diatomaceous earth can rejuvenate skin, cure heart disease and rid the body of heavy metals and other non-specified toxins. Just look on YouTube and you can see the accounts of many individuals who use this supplement and attest equally to it’s life-promoting effects. However, some authors deride this supplement as a form of snake oil and yet another example of unscientific quackery.
As a life coach, my goal is to find the strategies and tactics which promote living the good life. Understanding effective nutrition and supplementation is a big part of that. I wanted to find out what the real diatomaceous earth benefits were, and what risks it might have too. I spent several weeks researching this fascinating mineral as well as tried my own supplementation schedule for six weeks. In this article, I share my findings into the benefits of diatomaceous earth. I include links to all the relevant journal articles that I found while doing my research as well as some of the more compelling video testimonials.
In this article I wish to strike a balance between the hard science and the reported effects from those supplementing with diatomaceous earth. The single for data is, after all, anecdote. Though much more research (particularly human trials) needs to be done, the reportings from these early adopters are an important educational resource and should be taken into account (with a pinch of salt).
Diatomaceous Earth – What Is It?
Diatomaceous earth is the fossilised remains of diatoms. Diatoms are an phytoplankton which have hard shells made of silica. When the diatoms die, the fall the the ocean floor and create layers of sediment that we call… Diatomaceous earth. Because of shifting land masses, some of these sediments end up on land, and so the diatomaceous earth is mined this way.
There are many uses for diatomaceous earth including industrial uses, agricultural uses and pest control. However, since I’m a life coach, I’m going to focus only on the human health enhancing properties of it in this article.
The Big Diatomaceous Earth Benefit – It Is an Excellent Source of Silica
Diatomaceous earth mostly consists of silica. Silica is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, after oxygen. Silica is one Silicone atom combined with two oxygen atoms, or silicone dioxide to those of you who enjoyed high school chemistry classes.
The composition of the remainder of the diatomaceous earth varies from source to source as each species of diatom will have different properties. Typically diatomaceous earth also contains aluminium oxide, iron oxide, calcium oxide and other trace elements.
The high silica content is where most of the diatomaceous earth benefits come from, as we shall soon see…
Silica from Diatomaceous Earth Promotes Collagen Production
Collagen is the most abundant protein in humans and is used to form a variety of different tissues like skin, bones, teeth, blood vessels, scar tissue and muscles. Silicone is a component of collagen and is a signal to increase collagen production. Here are some of the benefits of increased silicone which supplementing diatomaceous earth bestows:
Diatomaceous Earth Makes Skin More Full and Youthful
This was the first benefit I observed from supplementing diatomaceous earth. It makes your skin much more full and healthy. One of the consistent accounts from YouTubers who supplement diatomaceous earth is that they report much nicer skin. In my research for this article, I did notice that the vast majority of diatomaceous earth advocates had rich glowing skin – which is an encouraging sign. In my own case, when I first started supplementing, I found my skin started looking better in just the first day or two. It’s almost as if a kind of super moisturiser has been added to my face and several years of ageing have been undone.
Many beauty products advertise that they either contain collagen or promote your own collagen production. By supplementing silica from diatomaceous earth, you improve your skin’s radiance through the exact mechanism the beauty companies promote. However, it seems that taking the silica internally has a stronger effect on collagen production.
Diatomaceous Earth Promotes Healthy Joints
Strong collagen levels promote joint health. In this 2008 study, 97 participants found that supplementing collagen increased joint health across a variety of different parameters. Since diatomaceous earth promotes collagen production, there’s a good chance it can keep joints healthy too. This doctor gives a great summary of the literature for silica’s ability to promote joint health and prevent arthritis.
I found this diatomaceous earth benefit to work in me too. My knees are a little creaky and sore sometimes, particularly in the gym on leg days. I find that the little joint pain I experienced has vanished. This effect was far less stark than the glowing skin benefits I received, but it was nevertheless noticeable.
I have also been a long term sufferer from lower back pain, and as I type this six weeks after first supplementing diatomaceous earth, I am experiencing no back pain whatsoever. To be fair, I have been implementing other back pain strategies (such as regular stretching and regular abs workouts) so it’s possibly the benefits are associated with those or another unseen factor. I would be interested to know whether others have experienced a relief from back pain following diatomaceous earth supplementation.
Diatomaceous Earth Helps Bone Health and Bone Mass
Bones contain more silicone than calcium, and supplementing silica from diatomaceous earth increases bone mass. Osteoporosis is a leading cause of death. It is a disease where bones become so brittle and weak that even slight knocks can cause fractures. In this 2007 review, researchers summarised several studies which showed that increased dietary silicone leads to greater bone mass and fewer bone related injuries. The researchers were so convinced of this that they summarised with, “There is perhaps no question that silicon appears to have a beneficial role in bone formation and in bone health.” The researchers in this paper also hinted that silicone might be classed as an essential mineral like iron or magnesium.
Since dietary silicone increases collagen production, and bones are mostly made of collagen, it fits the rest of the evidence and testimonials well.
A Strange Diatomaceous Earth Benefit – It Makes Your Hair Grow Faster
When I began my diatomaceous earth research, one of the claims YouTubers often made is that their hair was growing much faster. Consider this healthy looking guy who shows a full head of shoulder-length hair which he states in just one year’s growth. Or this health coach who says that he must get a haircut every 3 weeks owing to his extremely fast rate of hair growth. I want to point out that both of these characters have excellent skin and look in exceptional health generally. If we see a pattern of exceptionally healthy looking people all taking diatomaceous earth, it gives some evidence that this supplement may indeed promote health.
A heart-warming story comes from this lady who shows us pictures of her balding scalp. She says she tried all sots of different treatments – all without effect. However, when she used diatomaceous earth her hair became full and whole again in three months. The pictures she included make her testimonial particularly powerful.
In my own experiments with diatomaceous earth, I can confirm that my hair grows much faster when I supplement this. I would guess that my own hair growth is about double the usual rate when I take diatomaceous earth daily. Both my head hair and beard seem to grow faster. After the positive changes to my skin, the increased hair growth was the second largest effect I noticed when taking diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous Earth Improves Nail Health
Nails grow faster when you supplement diatomaceous earth. It also makes the nails structurally stronger. People supplementing diatomaceous earth online report having to trim their nails far more regularly. I have found this true in my own diatomaceous earth supplementation.
Both hair and nails are primarily made from keratin. It seems that diatomaceous earth somehow causes keratin synthases to increase. Indeed, there seem to be several keratin and silicone treatments for hair and nails on the market, but it appears you can get terrific results by taking silica from diatomaceous earth internally.
My whole life I have been plagued by flaky bits of skin just above the cuticle. Since I started taking diatomaceous earth, this skin has become smooth and whole, and there are no tears or little cuts in it any more. I’m typing this article in the Winter months where this flaky, cracked skin effect is usually at its worse. You can see from the picture that the skin above my nails is plush and strong and there is not one tear. I put this down to diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous Earth Makes Teeth Healthier
Teeth are part made from collagen – the inner dentin contains collagen, but not the hard, outer enamel. Diatomaceous earth is reported to promote healthy teeth. Because of the abrasive nature of diatomaceous earth, some people have used it as an alternative to toothpaste. However, I am more interested in the regrowth of teeth from supplemental diatomaceous earth. I can’t find much evidence on this, but a few anecdotes online report people enjoying healthier teeth while supplementing diatomaceous earth.
Once again I can pull from my own experience. Since my late 20s, my teeth have become increasingly sensitive. I can report far less tooth sensitivity since supplementing diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous Earth May Reduce LDL Cholesterol
I found this one study which gave participants supplemental diatomaceous earth and recorded their lipid levels, HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. The study found that both lipid levels and LDL cholesterol reduced significantly. LDL cholesterol is associated with heart disease, though atherosclerosis and heart disease is a complex issue with several competing models for how it is actually caused circulating online. High blood lipid levels are more definitively associated with poor health, which makes the reduction seen in this study exciting.
Like all things diatomaceous earth, the research here is scant but promising. Furthermore, the complex and elusive nature of heart disease makes anecdotal evidence nearly blind in this case (people usually can’t look into their blood vessels and watch the plaque build up or thin out). More trials will be needed before we can say with any certainty whether this is an effective treatment for heart disease. Since this is one of the top four killers in the West, there is a solid rationale to research this promising lead.
The Famous Diatomaceous Earth Benefit: It Removes Parasites
Probably the most famous use for diatomaceous earth in humans is it’s ability to remove parasites from the body. A quick search on YouTube reveals hundreds of people using diatomaceous earth for this purpose. This was actually the initial reason for my giving this supplement a try.
As usual, the evidence is mostly anecdotal. However, there is a mountain of people online claiming that diatomaceous earth is the most effective treatment for removing parasites. For example, this health blogger talks a lot about parasite cleansing and suggests that diatomaceous earth is one of the best treatments for parasites that she has used. Interestingly, she is yet another healthy looking YouTuber who testifies to healthier skin, nails and hair from diatomaceous earth.
The exciting thing is that we have good animal data on this question! In this 2011 study a breed of chicken usually susceptible to parasites was given diatomaceous earth alongside its usual feed. The study conclusively showed that multiple parasite levels were down, the eggs they laid were richer and fuller and the hens themselves grew larger. There are other anecdotes online documenting farmers using diatomaceous earth for various animals to reduce parasites and keep them generally healthy.
From my own experience the anal itching at night time has completely stopped since taking diatomaceous earth. Night time anal itching is one symptom of body parasites. Interestingly, when I go a few days without taking it, the anal itching slowly begins to creep back.
Diatomaceous Earth Removes Aluminium from the Body
When I begun my research into diatomaceous earth, I was shocked to find that a small percentage of it comprises aluminium oxide. Although the proportion of alumina varies from source to source, every chemical analysis of diatomaceous earth contained at least a small portion of it. This fact made me consider stopping this supplement, much to my chagrin as my skin, hair and nails were all looking terrific and I wanted to keep going with the parasite cleanse. However, aluminium is a heavy metal and is associated with several diseases such as Alzheimer’s. No matter how good the other benefits were, I cannot poison myself with aluminium. My curiosity was peaked when I saw in the comments section of diatomaceous earth videos that diatomaceous earth actually removes aluminium from the body. How could this be?
This article on aluminium toxicity specifically lists diatomaceous earth as one method to actively remove aluminium from body tissue. It suggests that silica binds to aluminium in body tissues before being excreted from the body. Thankfully, there is a 1998 study which demonstrates this. Rats were given a heavy dose of aluminium and either no silicone, a moderate dose of silicone or a high dose of silicone over a 5 week period. When the rats were autopsied, the researchers found that aluminium levels in the various tissue samples were lower in the silicon conditions and most low in the high dose condition. This shows that in rats, and hopefully humans, silicone is an effective aluminium cleanse even when you are consuming aluminium and silicone together… Just like in diatomaceous earth.
And what about human studies? In this 2006 paper in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers gave participants water containing high levels of silicic acid (a form of silicone). They found that urinary excretion of aluminium reduced after the silicic acid treatment, suggesting a lower aluminium burden on the body. This is in line with the findings from the rat study.
I could not find any human trials were diatomaceous earth specifically was used as an aluminium detox. However, there is enough evidence from silicone use to put my own fears of aluminium toxicity to rest.
Diatomaceous Earth and Danger to the Lungs
Look at most articles and testimonials about diatomaceous earth, and you will hear that it shouldn’t be inhaled. The theory is that diatomaceous earth collects in the lungs where it causes complications such as cancer. This turns out to be a legitimate concern. This 2001 study looked at lung cancer rates among diatomaceous earth miners and processors. It found that exposure to crystalline silica dust was a significant predictor of lung cancer rates.
Health enthusiasts like you and I will not be exposed to anything like the volume of silica dust that those workers inhaled over many years. However, it pays to be cautious. Whenever I handle diatomaceous earth, I always take care not to let powder puff into the air.
How to Take Diatomaceous Earth
Sources vary on the optimum way to take diatomaceous earth. However, the best way seems to be taking one tablespoon with a glass of water early in the morning and late at night. The reason for taking diatomaceous earth on an empty stomach seems to be that it reduces the interference of mineral absorption from your food.
Diatomaceous earth is an incredibly cheap supplement. My 300g tub, which I have still not finished, only cost £6.50. This works out at only a few pounds a month. I particularly like this brand because of its extremely high silica content at 94.2%.
Since there is a small danger from inhaling the diatomaceous earth, I have found it useful to fill the glass with water before adding the diatomaceous earth. This stops the powder puffing into the air as you stir it in.
The taste is chalky but generally fine. Downing this mixture will be easy for all but the most delicate of individuals.
It seems that diatomaceous earth has a ton of impressive health benefits. Although for many of the benefits the evidence is weak or anecdotal, I see strong reasons to take this supplement. The singular for data is anecdote, and there are some truly compelling anecdotes out there. Indeed, having tested diatomaceous earth for six weeks, I am now one of those anecdotes. My own experience with diatomaceous earth has been extremely positive, and I’m so glad to have added this to my diet, and I will continue to do this for the foreseeable future.
Many of the claims I listed above would change the lives of millions if they could only be firmly backed with large participant number human trials. If I could have my ultimate study wish, I would supplement diatomaceous earth against a placebo control group and find at least one biomarker for each of the benefits this article listed to test against. I would be particularly interested in supplementing diatomaceous earth to improve back pain as this benefit is little publicised but seemed to work well for me. The problem is that this supplement is so cheap and completely non-patentable that drug companies would never fund research into it. Indeed, they have a cash incentive for research like this not to get out, since it would solve many medical problems which currently generate many millions of profit.