Food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) is a naturally formed sedimentary mineral rock, derived from the remains of diatoms, or oceanic unicellular algae. It comes in the form of a thick, white, siliceous powder.
It is composed of approximately 85 percent silica, an important trace mineral required by tendons, cartilage, blood vessels and bones. In fact, silica is important for almost every vital organ, including the heart, liver and lungs.
Apart from silica, DE also has calcium, alumina, magnesium, and iron, which all have benefits for the body.
This unique composition makes DE one of the cheapest and most versatile health products in the market. It is also used widely in cosmetic, agricultural and cleansing realms.
Note: Always use food-grade diatomaceous earth.
Here are 10 interesting uses of food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE).
1. Aids Detoxification
DE helps detoxify your body naturally, which is important to keep you more energetic, boost your immune system and lower your risk of many health problems.
The negative charge of DE attracts positively charged ions and the one that comes from heavy metals. Ultimately, the toxins are eliminated from the body through the usual routes.
It successfully kills parasites and viruses that can contribute to illnesses, while also helping to clean the blood.
A 2000 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that silica helps eliminate heavy metals like aluminum from the body.
From time to time, take food-grade DE to help detox your body. Add 1 teaspoon to at least 12 ounces of water and drink it immediately, on an empty stomach.
2. Lowers Blood Cholesterol
DE has a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels, due to its silica content and cleansing powers.
By taking 250 mg of DE, 3 times a day, you can easily lower your serum cholesterol significantly. DE is effective in reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol) levels as well as triglycerides.
A 1998 study published in the European Journal of Medical Research reports that DE is capable of reducing blood cholesterol and positively influencing lipid metabolism. However, the authors noted that more placebo-controlled studies were necessary to confirm the findings.
Nutrients like silicon, calcium, magnesium, iron and other trace minerals in DE also support overall heart health.
3. Improves Joint and Bone Health
The silica in food-grade DE helps improve the health of joints, bones and ligaments.
Silica, which is a type of silicon, is essential for collagen formation. Collagen helps promote joint health and is beneficial for reducing joint pain and strengthening the cartilage that cushions joints.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging reports that dietary silicon is beneficial for bone and connective tissue and helps prevent low bone mass. This is turn can prevent osteoporosis.
While more research is needed, you can definitely use DE to improve joint health and prevent bone disorders.
4. Supports Oral Health
The silica in food-grade DE also protects your teeth and gums to support good oral health.
Silica hardens the enamel, prevents cavities and tooth decay. It also prevents bleeding gums, gum atrophy and recession.
The light abrasive nature of diatomaceous earth also removes stains from your teeth.
In fact, many oral hygiene products contain a good amount of silica, which you can easily get from DE.
Mix a little DE in your toothpaste and brush as usual. Do it once a week to maintain good oral health.
5. Promotes Skin Health
DE has several properties that promote healthy skin.
The silica in it gets in the skin pores and helps sweep the dirt from the pores, allowing your skin to breathe better. Silica also aids in collagen formation, a fundamental building block for healthy skin.
Apart from silica, DE also contains minerals including calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, selenium and phosphorous, which are good for skin health.
Being very fine in texture, DE also works as an effective exfoliating agent.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of food-grade DE with some milk or honey, enough to make a paste.
- Gently massage the paste onto your face using circular motions.
- Allow the paste to sit for 1 to 2 minutes, then rinse off your face with lukewarm water.
- Pat dry and apply some mild moisturizer.
- Repeat once a week.
6. Nourishes Hair and Nails
DE is also beneficial for your hair. The high amount of silica helps prevent baldness, stimulates healthier hair growth and ensures beautiful shine, luster and strength.
In fact, silica is one of the key ingredients in many hair supplements that you can find in the market.
Not just hair, silica is also essential for healthy and strong nails. Those who have brittle nails can benefit by taking some DE internally.
You should take food-grade DE on an empty stomach. Add 1 teaspoon to at least 12 ounces of liquid, such as water or any fresh fruit or vegetable juice. Mix vigorously and drink it immediately.
7. Purifies Water
Drinking unpurified water is dangerous to your health. To purify water, DE is very effective. Its unique chemical composition makes it a great filtration aid for even very fine particles.
You can use it to prevent tap water toxicity as well as for purification practices for fish tanks. In fact, DE is one of the main ingredients in many filtration products.
A 1991 study published in the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology reports that DE helps kill viruses and purify drinking water.
Another study published in 2000 in Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews confirms that DE helps absorb up to 80 percent of the viruses present in tap water.
8. Keeps Dogs Free of Parasites
The nontoxic, chalky substance in the form of DE can protect your dog from common parasites like roundworms, whipworms and hookworms. All of these worms cause your pet a lot of discomfort.
The microscopically sharp edges of DE damage the protective coating of parasites, which in turn leads to dehydration and death.
To treat a dog with parasites, add food-grade DE to their food once daily for about 1 month. The quantity should be based on your dog’s weight.
- For dogs over 55 pounds, the dosage is 1 tablespoon per day.
- For puppies and smaller dogs, the dosage is 1 teaspoon per day.
9. Combats Flea Infestations
DE can help combat a flea infestation on your pet as well as in your home. The sharp particles penetrate the thin, waxy outer coating of the fleas’ bodies. This causes them to dehydrate and die.
Typically when fleas are present, you will need to treat both your pet and your home.
- To control a flea infestation in your home, vacuum the flea-infested areas. Then, sprinkle a layer of DE powder on those areas. Allow the DE to sit for about 12 hours, then vacuum again. Repeat the process as needed.
- To control a flea infestation on your pet, sprinkle some of the powder on your pet’s body. Rub it around the skin gently, wait 24 hours and then bathe your pet. When the coat is wet, run a comb through the fur. Repeat as needed.
10. Kills Bed Bugs
Diatomaceous earth is also good for getting rid of bed bugs. Being a desiccant, it disrupts the waxy shell of bed bugs, cutting through their abdomen, eventually causing them to become dehydrated.
It also acts as a physical barrier for these pests as they avoid crawling on it.
Sprinkle a small amount of DE around your house, especially in all cracks and crevices. While doing so, make sure to wear a mask to avoid getting the fine particles in your lungs while inhaling. Repeat every few months.
- You must only use food-grade diatomaceous earth.
- Always wear a dust mask when using DE, as breathing it in can irritate the lungs.
- DE is not recommended for individuals with severe digestive conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.