Diatomaceous Earth (often referred to as "DE") is fast becoming a popular detox tool amongst avid health enthusiasts. It is the fossilised remains of marine phytoplankton, a microscopic algae, which had accumulated over 30 million years in the river beds, streams, lakes, and oceans, forming huge silica deposits. When mined from these deposits and ground into powder, it becomes what we call diatomaceous earth. This chalk-like powder is microscopically very hard, coarse, and absorbent, which makes it useful for many things.
There are different kinds of DE, known as grades:
FOOD GRADE: DE in its purest form is organic and safe to ingest and use around your home, children, and pets. This kind of DE meets the Food Chemicals Codex requirements.
PEST CONTROL GRADE: Not all pest control DE is chemical-free. Some companies add chemicals to their DE to make it kill pests faster.
POOL GRADE: This DE should not be used for any other purpose but as a pool filter, as it has been superheated, which crystallizes the silica. This process increases its effectiveness in pool filters but makes it toxic to inhale or ingest.
Diatomaceous means "full of diatoms", a single-celled honeycomb structured algae organisms encased in silicon exoskeletons. It is quickly becoming known for an impressive list of health benefits. Nicknamed the 'grass of the sea' for all aquatic life forms and an ancient treasure in the modern health world, many enthusiastic silica advocates are calling it nature's best kept secret and an essential mineral for human health. This fine off-white powder rich in silica, not only helps people, but also pets, plants and the planet in the pursuit of natural healthy living.
Main Health Benefits
Food-grade DE is composed of approximately 85% silica. This important, trace mineral is required by tendons, cartilage, blood vessels, and bone. The nutrient even contributes to almost every vital organ, including the heart, liver, and lungs. Food was the primary source of naturally-occurring silica before modern farming practices depleted the soil. It is suggested that only 1/3 of the silica we need is available in natural, plant-based foods.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that silica also helps eliminate heavy metals from the body, such as aluminium, making it perfect for a heavy metal detox. In studies, it has been shown to have a high-aluminium-affinity and reduces aluminium availability from the human gastrointestinal tract.
A study published in the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that DE helps kill viruses and purify drinking water by absorbing up to 80 percent of the viruses present, including poliovirus 1, echovirus 5 and coxsackievirus B5, which were all present in tap water even after filtration.
Because DE is a strong abrasive, it is often used as a toothpaste and facial exfoliator. The process of exfoliation is important in skin care as it helps to remove dead skin cells that may give the appearance of tired, worn-out skin. The product’s natural silica content is also necessary for healthy skin, teeth, hair, and nails, and the product is often touted as a potent beauty mineral.
Research has also shown that food-grade DE may offer positive benefits for cholesterol levels and encourage heart health. Nutrients such as silicon, calcium, sodium, magnesium, iron, and other trace minerals are available in DE, giving rise to a practically endless supply of health benefits. Most of these nutrients play a role in building and repairing the muscles and bones.
One of the most common uses for DE is as a natural insecticide. Studies indicate that this clay-like powder can kill the harmful insects that threaten crops and home life. Due to the incessant use of pesticides, many insects have become resistant to chemical deterrents. This organic pest control method is helpful for reducing the number of environmental toxins we’re all exposed to.
DE also acts as a mild abrasive internally. It can help to remove intestinal invaders and other harmful organisms from the digestive tract. As an internal cleanser, DE may aid cleansing by supporting regularity and assist in removing toxic metals. Some studies have shown DE to be very successful in ridding animals of harmful organisms. Food-grade DE placed in the feed of livestock may help discourage fleas and other harmful bugs. Make sure that all DE is labelled “food grade” and is untreated and unheated!
To Sum Up...
DE can be used for many other ailments and only a few benefits have been touched upon. Nonetheless, taking DE is imperative in this modern world which is full of environmental toxins and processed foods. Ideally, DE should be taken on an empty stomach. It is recommended to start small and slowly work your way up to a higher dose. Begin with a quarter of a teaspoon added to a glass of water. Mix vigorously and drink immediately.
Some people don't like the chalky flavour and gritty texture that are typical of DE mixed with water. If that describes you, try adding DE to a drink with more flavour (milk, orange juice, smoothies) or to foods like yoghurt, oatmeal, or applesauce. Keep your body hydrated throughout the day.
There are no known risks or side effects with ingesting DE. Nonetheless, everything in moderation so work your way up to 1 tsp DE mixed in a drink or meal within a 24 hour period. Make sure you purchase food grade diatomaceous earth if you want to start eating it. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, check with a qualified health professional before ingesting DE as a supplement. Be careful when handling DE as the abrasive particles could irritate the lungs. If you have a respiratory condition, I would recommend wearing a dust mask.
Recipes for Health
DE Enhanced Toothpaste
- Take a small container (one with an airtight lid) and add some toothpaste to it
- Add 1part food grade DE to 9 parts toothpaste. Mix thoroughly.
- Brush your teeth with your DE enhanced toothpaste.
- Seal the container and store for future use.
Natural Facial Exfoliator
- Mix DE with water (roughly 1 part DE to 3 parts water) in a bowl. You can add more DE for a more paste like mixture (for a mask) or more water (for a facial scrub)
- For a mask: use your fingers to smear the mixture over your forehead, nose, chin, and cheeks.
- For a facial scrub: use your fingers to gently scrub the mixture on your forehead, nose, chin, and cheeks. Avoid your eyes and mouth to prevent irritation.
- Leave the mixture on your face for 2-5 minutes, allowing it to dry.
- Wash the dried mixture off your face using water and a cloth, be thorough. Avoid your eyes and mouth to prevent irritation.
Note: You can add Coconut oil or essential oils like lavender for added benefit. You could also add DE to your current exfoliation products.