I was recently at a party, and diatomaceous earth came up—yes, it was a wild and crazy night. Years ago, I’d used it to safely get rid of fleas on kittens I’d adopted. I also know someone who swore that adding DE to their morning cup of java improved digestion and elimination, which sounded totally wrong. I decided to delve a bit into the many uses of diatomaceous earth and see how else this strange powder could be of help. As it turns out, it is surprisingly useful and has many positive attributes.
What is it?
Diatomaceous earth aka fossil shell flower, is the fossilized shells of tiny aquatic organisms known as diatoms, which are single-celled plants that nourish most marine life. Diatoms make their shells out of sand (silica) and as they die, their shells drop off and accumulate on the floor of whatever body of water they inhabited. They’re found in both fresh and salt water, where they form a chalky, dense sediment, but diatomaceous earth is mined mostly from old lake, river and stream beds.
It’s important to note that you should only use food grade DE, as the other type available is industrial—it’s mostly used for swimming pool filtration and is not safe for ingestion. You should also be careful not to breathe it in; even though it appears to be a fine powdery substance, it’s quite dangerous to the respiratory system. To be safe, wear a dust mask when spooning DE into your cup.
Food grade DE can be added to a glass of juice or a smoothie and used to cleanse the digestive tract of toxins, bacteria and parasites. Its scratchy texture essentially exfoliates the lining of your digestive tract, scraping off toxic entities. The DE is then excreted through bowel movements, taking all of this nastiness out to the trash, so to speak. Processed foods leave all sorts of undesirable remnants in our bodies. A tablespoon of DE dissolved into a beverage once a day is a great way to sweep it all away. Who knew?
Reduce osteoporosis risk
The fossilized shells that make up DE are loaded with silica (silicon dioxide), a mineral that is vital to our health. Our bodies need silica in order to absorb and process calcium. Some studies imply that over-the-counter calcium supplements are not effective. Taking diatomaceous earth gives the body a dose of silica, which is far more useful. Studies have shown that silica can even morph into calcium if your body is deficient. Many foods are naturally high in silica, such as brown rice, oats and barley. Consuming them and adding a bit of DE to your diet can help reduce your risk of osteoporosis and improve your overall bone health.
A study done by the Institute of Medical Chemistry and Biochemistry in Austria showed significant drops in bad cholesterol levels when participants took daily doses of DE for six weeks. They stated that “Diatomaceous earth, a bioproduct, is capable of reducing blood cholesterol and positively influencing lipid metabolism in humans.” I know that drug companies want us to use their medications to lower cholesterol levels, but wouldn’t you rather try something that is 100% natural and hasn’t shown any scary side-effects? I lived with someone who used daily cholesterol medication that causes memory loss and muscle spasms. Once they stopped the medication and made drastic diet changes, the spasms and cognitive issues went away.
Taking DE as a supplement has been shown to help with aging skin. Silica found in diatomaceous earth aids collagen production, which helps our skin and joints healthy. Collagen is a natural protein component of the skin. It’s main building block for organs, cells and tissue. Collagen is made up of mostly silica and it is responsible for our skin’s elasticity and resilience. As we age, our natural collagen production slows—and, unfortunately, it declines faster in women than men. Bummer. Studies have shown that women lose collagen at a rate of 1% a year. So, cut out processed foods, smoking and recreational drugs (which all deplete collagen), and start taking DE. It’s less expensive, and not at all invasive (unlike surgical procedures and fillers).
Help your four-legged friends
Food grade DE is also an effective dewormer, and it’s a natural alternative to toxic flea medication for your pets. Diatomaceous earth is gently rubbed into pet’s fur in order to suffocate fleas and help your beloved critters get rid of pests safely. Food grade DE can also be administered in small, safe doses to help improve your pet’s coat, digestion and appetite. Be sure to chat with your vet and pet supply associates in order to use the proper dosage for your four-legged-pals.
Small, safe doses of food grade DE certainly provide numerous surprising health benefits for humans and pets alike. Give it a try and see for yourself!