Diatomaceous earth, also known as D.E., diatomite, “The Grass of the Sea” or kieselgur/kieselguhr is a white to off-white powder that comes from a sedimentary rock made up of algae fossil. Even if you never heard of it, you may have probably come across it or even consumed it, as it can be found in powders, tooth paste, on farms, in gardens or mixed in with flour, just to name a few.
What Is the Origin and Composition of Diatomaceous Earth?
D.E. is made from fossilized remains of single-celled aquatic organisms called diatoms that have shells made of silica. Because they have silica in their hard cover, they are resilient to viruses and diseases and so they resist over large periods of time. Deposits are found in the sediment of lakes, rivers, seas and oceans and are mined so the diatomite can be extracted.
Diatomaceous earth is made up of 80 to 90% silica, an important compound extensively found in nature and living organisms. Humans beings are born with a high level of silica in their bodies and studies have shown that it’s an essential mineral needed for the development of bones, hair, nails and teeth. In nature, it facilitates the growth and development of plants and is a common component of rocks, sands and clays.
How It Is Used
Diatomaceous earth can be found in two variations: food-grade that is safe for human consumption and non-food grade for industrial uses.
It is found in thousands of products, from pressurized liquids used on the outside of buildings to skin care products. The two most common uses are in pool as water purifier and as pesticide. Because it kills viruses and prevents toxicity, it is used in many filtration products for pools and even for tap water purification.
Another important use of D.E. is in insect control. It is a very efficient insecticide, being in the meantime totally harmless for humans and animals. It works against any type of organism that has an exoskeleton (an external skeleton that supports and protects the body), such as bed bugs, fleas, ants and even cockroaches. And it is completely natural because it works mechanically, absorbing lipids from the waxy layer of insects leading to a heavy dehydration and the insects die of water deficiency. Apart from treating pets and livestock, this property is useful in food preservation and grain storing.
Separately from the industrial uses of diatomaceous earth, many people use it both internally and externally for its health benefits. It is proven that the food-grade variant of diatomite can have lots of helpful uses.
What Are the Benefits of D.e.?
Diatomaceous earth is very helpful as a detoxifier, killing parasites and viruses and cleaning the blood stream. It is used to clean the digestive tract and boost liver functions. It is a stable particle that carries an electrical charge that attracts free radicals and other toxins and then removes them from the body through urine, feces and sweat. Studies even showed that silica contained by D.E. helps eliminate heavy metals, as aluminum, from the body.
Silica contained by diatomite also improves bones, joints and ligaments health. There is strong evidence that shows that dietary silicone ingestion leads to better bone mineral density, thus making D.E. an effective treatment of the much too common osteoporosis.
As it is proven that it kills parasites and is also a natural abrasive, diatomaceous earth is used in skin scrubs, exfoliators and toothpastes. It kills destructive toxins leaving behind a smooth skin or clean teeth. It is also said to have anti-aging effects.
Are There Any Side-effects of Diatomaceous Earth?
Due to its natural composition, D.E. is described as safe to use on the body or to consume. Although there are no concerns regarding its safety, it has some potential to irritate or dehydrate the skin. This is why, if you have sensitive skin, it would be wise to monitor its first external use.
As far as long-term use, no health effects have been observed in the scientific studies. Also, the rumors related to an increased risk of developing cancer when being exposed on a long term to silicone dioxide limited the cases to the ones that concern breathing in large quantities of crystalline diatomaceous earth – a much smaller powder that can be accumulated in lung tissue and lymph nodes.