Updated: Jul 13
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural product consisting of microscopic skeletons of algae, known as diatoms, that have fossilized over millions of years. There are two main types of diatomaceous earth: food grade, which is suitable for consumption, and filter grade, which is toxic to humans but has many industrial uses. The diatoms in diatomaceous earth are largely made up of a chemical compound called silica which has the ability to improve the body’s use of calcium, improve bone mineralization, protect joints and fight effects of aging. And that’s not all.
1. Detoxifies the Body
Diatomaceous earth — also known as diatomite — works like a natural detoxifying agent within the body, killing parasites and viruses that can contribute to illnesses while also helping to clean the blood. It’s also inexpensive, simple to use and much safer than many store-bought detox products or plans. Some of the benefits of using DE internally include reducing odors, helping to curb gas, cleansing the digestive tract, boosting liver function and absorbing harmful toxins within the blood.
How does DE work to help with detoxification? Silica works similarly to antioxidants found in high-antioxidant foods because it retains its traits as a stable particle even while continuously suspended in a liquid medium, allowing it to fight free radical damage. It’s broken down into a colloidal form, which acts like a detoxifier for the blood since it carries an electrical charge that attaches to free radicals and other harmful toxins. Silica particles can then neutralize the charge of free radicals and remove them from the body through sweat, urine and feces, which slows oxidative damage and has anti-aging effects.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that silica also helps eliminate heavy metals from the body, such as aluminum, making it perfect for a heavy metal detox. In studies, it has been shown to have a high-aluminum-affinity and reduces aluminum availability from the human gastrointestinal tract.
2. Improves Joint, Bones and Ligaments Health
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging stated that dietary silicon is beneficial to bone and connective tissue and helps prevent low bone mass (osteoporosis), which is considered “a silent epidemic of the 21st century.” Silica within DE helps with normal bone metabolism and joint formation, with evidence over the past 30 years suggesting there’s a positive association between dietary silicon intake and better bone mineral density. Thus, DE makes a great addition to any osteoporosis diet and treatment plan.
A number of possible mechanisms for how this works have been suggested, including the possibility that silicon helps with synthesis of collagen (used to form joints, the lining of the digestive tract and connective tissue) and within the mineralization of bones. While more research is still needed, it appears that silica supplementation can be used to help support normal metabolic processes, preserve joint health and prevent bone disorders.
3. Helps Clean and Protect Skin, Nails and Teeth
Since it has natural abrasive qualities and kills parasites, DE is used in many toothpastes, skin exfoliators, polishes and skin scrubs. Blend with coconut oil and apply as a mask to dry out harmful toxins to leave behind clean, smoothed skin.
4. Helps Purify Water
Diatomaceous earth is used in many filtration products, including the trademarked brand name Celite, because its chemical composition makes it a great filtration aid. It’s able to filter very fine particles that otherwise pass through or clog filter papers.
This makes it a common product used in water filters to help prevent tap water toxicity and also purification practices for fish tanks. Additionally, it’s also important for manufacturing beer and wine, syrups, sugar, and honey without removing or altering their color, taste or nutritional properties.
A study published in the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that diatomaceous earth helps kill viruses and purify drinking water. Viruses have been found to be dangerous and abundant in certain sources of drinking water, raising the risk for viral infections and having a significant impact on bacteria and algae populations in the ecosystem.
Researchers tested the effects of a filter containing DE on tap water that was contaminated with heavy metals and various viral strains. The results of the study showed that DE helped absorb 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.
5. Fights Parasites
A study published in the Oxford Journal of Poultry Science found that DE has the potential to be an effective treatment to help control parasites. Interestingly enough, this was observed in hens that produce organically raised, free-range eggs. Giving two breeds of commercial egg-laying hens DE improved production of their eggs and egg quality compared to control groups, effectively working as a parasite cleanse in the process.
The two groups of hens used in the study were found to differ in their resistance to internal parasitic infections, which was observed by examining their gastrointestinal tracts. The hens fed DE had significantly lower incidences of infections, including fewer Capillaria FEC, slightly lower Eimeria FEC, fewer birds infected with Heterakis and significantly lower Heterakis worm infections. Those fed DE were also significantly heavier in weight, laid more eggs and consumed more feed than hens fed the control diet, plus their eggs had larger yolks and therefore were more concentrated with nutrients.
6. Kills Insects and Other Harmful Substances in Your Home
In the U.S., DE is classified under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act as a safe substance for household use. It’s a natural insecticide, since it absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects’ exoskeletons, which causes them to dehydrate and die of water deficiency. This is why it’s useful in food preservation, as a natural home deodorizer and cleanser, and for helping to treat livestock suffering from parasites.
Using diatomaceous earth can help eliminate bed bug, house dust mite, cockroach, ants and flea infestations within your home without the use for harsh chemicals. According to the website for Pest Control Technologies, silica gels have been used by the pest control industry for more than a half century since they safely produce an electrostatic charge that helps them adhere to insects crawling over treated surfaces. Silica gel and diatomaceous earth have been found in studies to kill insects by removing a portion of the razor-thin, waxy outer coating that helps an insect conserve moisture, which allows them to work better than other products that rely on abrasion or poisoning.
How to Use Diatomaceous Earth
Take a teaspoon of food grade DE mixed with water once a day on an empty stomach. Drink a glass of water after and do not eat for an hour. Take DE for 10 days on and 10 days off. For external use, sprinkle around to rid the home of insects, parasites, bed bugs and viruses.
For dogs and cats, rub onto fur for a cleaner skin and flea control
Health benefits of Diatomaceous Earth
Aids in weight loss and gut health - feeds healthy gut bacteria
Increases nutrient absorption
Improved digestion and more regular bowel movements
Better liver and colon functioning
Improved detoxification and removal of heavy metals
Stronger immune function and protection from illnesses
Healthier-looking skin, hair and nails
Stronger bones and protection from fractures or osteoporosis
Improved joint and ligament health
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