A few months ago, I advised my dad to start an autoimmune protocol. As part of that protocol, I also told him that he would benefit from taking supplements that would boost his body’s innate detox mechanisms. One of the supplements was diatomaceous earth – when my dad saw me mixing the whitish powder in water, he said ‘You want me to eat dirt that is used to kill bugs?!? That’s not happening sweetheart…’ He did end up taking it although I am pretty sure this had more to do with him wanting me to stop nagging him than with the various studies I cited. After a few days, he told me his joints were much less painful and that he was feeling much more energetic. So I thought why not write an article on this unknown natural supplement? Keep scrolling to find out what diatomaceous earth is, how it can improve your health and the various ways to use it. Hint: diatomaceous earth has many uses besides being a great dietary supplement.
Word of Caution – Please read this before using diatomaceous earth.
It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you use only FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth for consumption or use at home since filter grade diatomaceous earth is toxic to humans and can cause cancer if inhaled. Of course, it is never a good idea to inhale any form of powder but inhaling FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth is unlikely to cause issues since this type of diatomaceous earth is rapidly eliminated from the lung tissue.
What is diatomaceous earth?
The first time I heard about diatomaceous earth, I thought ‘Wow, I’m really bad at geography’. It turned out that diatomaceous earth is not a state but a natural fine white powder formed from the fossilized remains of diatoms, minuscule aquatic organisms which are a kind of hard shelled algae or phytoplankton.
Feel like taking a short lecture on diatomaceous earth? Then check out the video below. [youtube id=”LO0I9TwZ6Z0″] Even if you’ve never heard of diatomaceous earth before, you’ve probably used it. Diatomaceous earth is often used in food manufacturing, skin products, in farming as well as powders, dusts and pressurized liquids which are utilized in gardens, on farms and on the exterior of buildings. It is also used to kill insects, viruses and parasites.
The impressive health benefits of diatomaceous earth can be attributed to:
- Its high content of silicon, a mineral which the body needs to build health hair, nails and teeth.
- Its harness – diatomaceous earth has a hardness of 8 on a scale where diamond has a hardness of 10!
- Its tube-like structure with holes in it (you’ll only be able to observe this using a microscope).
- Its very strong negative charge.
Wondering why these characteristics make diatomaceous earth special? I’ll get to that in a bit.
Top 8 health benefits of diatomaceous earth.
1. Diatomaceous earth supports our body’s natural detox pathways.
Did you cringe when you saw the word ‘detox’ above? I totally get that – our liver and kidneys are fully capable of removing toxins that enter the body and most of the detox programs on the wild, wild web are nothing but marketing scams that are often detrimental to health. However, it is also true that we are exposed to so many environmental toxins and heavy metals that our innate detox mechanisms may become overwhelmed especially if one consumes the standard American diet. Some of the signs that may indicate that your body might be struggling with eliminating heavy metals include:
- Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease
- Depression and anxiety
- Recurrent migraines
- Bipolar disorder
- Chronic fatigue
One easy way to get rid of these metals is to take diatomaceous earth internally (see the ‘how to use section below.) You see, metals have positive charges and are ‘attracted’ to the negatively charged diatomaceous earth. Once the two bind together, the heavy metals can be easily excreted from the body via the gut.
2. Diatomaceous earth helps kill viruses and parasites.
Research indicates that diatomaceous earth can help absorb over 80% of viruses present in tap water – this included poliovirus 1, echovirus 5 and coxsackievirus B5 which remained in the water even after filtration.
In a study involving hens, scientists found that diatomaceous earth acted as an effective parasite cleanser. The birds treated with the powder were healthier (they experienced fewer infections), heavier and laid eggs that had larger yolks with a higher concentration of nutrients.
3. Diatomaceous earth may slow down cognitive decline.
As mentioned earlier, diatomaceous earth is naturally rich in silicon, a mineral which exists in the form of silica or silicon dioxide. Lab studies show that silicon helps prevent the accumulation of aluminum in the brain – it appears that the silicon bonds with aluminum, reducing its absorption in the digestive tract. Since aluminum toxicity is believed to be involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, scientists speculate that a diet rich in silicon can help ward off cognitive decline. In fact, in a French study, researchers found that elderly subjects were more prone to cognitive dysfunction when the levels of aluminum in drinking water was high and concentrations of silicon was low. However, when silicon levels were higher, exposure to aluminum had a smaller impact on the participants’ cognitive function.
4. Diatomaceous earth enhances bone, joint and ligament health.
Thanks to the silicon it contains, diatomaceous earth may help increase bone mineral density while enhancing the synthesis of collagen, a type of protein that ensures bone flexibility as well as healthy tendons and ligaments. According to research silicon intake may help increase bone mineral density in men, osteoporotic women as well as premenopausal and postmenopausal women. This indicates that, along with vitamin D, silicon may help delay the onset of osteoporosis.
Silicon is also an essential nutrient for the structural integrity and development of connective tissue. Studies show that silicon is able to stabilize the glycosaminoglycan network which forms connective tissue. What this means is that silicon helps keep connective tissue such as cartilage flexible and healthy. Cartilage is a type of tough, flexible tissue found throughout the body. It covers the surface of joints and thus reduces friction and prevents damage when bones slide over one another.
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