Diatomaceous Earth⎜Uses, Health Benefits, Is It Safe

If you do a web search for Diatomaceous Earth, (DE), you will turn up articles claiming a lot of varied benefits from it's use. Some claims may be valid and some claims may be stretching things a bit.

Diatomaceous Earth is claimed to be good for; treating high cholesterol, promoting heart health, strengthening immune response, preventing heavy metal toxicity, aiding in wound and burn healing, lowering blood pressure, helping control diabetes, helping prevent kidney stones, decreasing Migraine Headaches, helping prevent bone fractures, helping reduce Alzhiemer's disease and more.

For 7 years I taught Master's level classes based upon my 2 Degrees in Health Care. By the time I graduated with those 2 Degrees, I had spent 3 full years in chemistry courses where I learned that the human body absorbs some chemical compounds but does not absorb other chemical compounds.

In my research for teaching the Master's level classes I found that several web based articles contained errors because the writers evidently did not have the background to completely understand the subject they were writing about.

We will take a look at several claims for Diatomaceous Earth and see if we can determine if those claims are valid or not. You will be surprised to learn that several claims are not even supported by medical evidence used to prove that particular claim.

Health Benefits

Diatomaceous Earth, (DE), or products containing DE are marketed on the internet as having multiple health benefits. There are people who consider DE as a must have wellness product. Before we continue, it is critical to understand that Food Grade DE is not very bio-available. Very little of Food Grade DE is absorbed into the bloodstream. Here's a quote;

Only minute amounts of the Food Grade D.E. get absorbed into the bloodstream, where as the living organic silica is readily usable form of silica in the body, but it works very organically.

https://diatomaceous.org/silica-supplement-guide

Here's another quote referencing the absorption and bio-availability of silicon as ortho-silicic acid. Ortho-silicic acid as a source of silicon is a much better source of silicon than DE;

Absorption studies indicate that the ortho-silicic acid is a main readily bioavailable source of silicon for humans, whereas its higher polymers are not of significant absorbability. In a placebo-controlled study on eight volunteers, Jugdaohsingh et al. showed that 53% of administered ortho-silicic acid is excreted in the urine, whereas the ingestion of polymeric silicic acid causes only a marginal increase of silicon in the urine. This result substantiates the statement that polymeric silicic acids and amorphous silicon dioxide are of poor bioavailability.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3546016/

So Food Grade DE is not absorbed much into the bloodstream whereas ortho-silicic acid is where most of the silicon absorbed by humans comes from.

Diatomite (SiO2_nH2O) or diatomaceous earth is a pale-colored, soft, lightweight sedimentary rock composed principally of silica microfossils of aquatic unicellular algae.

https://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=ajmskr.2010.121.136

Notice the difference in the chemical formula of DE (SiO2_nH2O) compared to the chemical formula of Ortho-silicic acid (H4SiO4) in this quote:

[O]rtho-silicic acid (H4SiO4), [is] a major form of bioavailable silicon for both humans and animals.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3546016/

As can be seen from the four quotes above DE and Ortho-silicic acid are quite different compounds. Ortho-silicic acid is bio-available meaning the silicon can be absorbed and used by the human body. DE is absorbed only in minute amounts.

It is not the fact that DE contains silica that determines whether the silica is absorbed into the human body. It is the complete compound that determines whether silica or silicon is absorbed into the human body.

DE's chemical composition prevents it from being absorbed into the human body in any appreciable amounts. On the other hand, the chemistry of ortho-silicic acid allows it to be readily absorbed into the human body.

Diatomaceous Earth May Lower Cholesterol Levels

One small human study of 19 people with high cholesterol has been done. Those participating in the study took DE three times a day for a period of 8 weeks. At the end of the study the total cholesterol went down by 13.2%. The LDL, (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides decreased slightly and the HDL, (good cholesterol), increased.

Even though this study was published, the authors of the study had this to say:

Placebo-controlled studies will be necessary to confirm our findings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/953393

In other words, until better studies are done we can't say for sure that DE actually reduces cholesterol levels!

Does Diatomaceous Earth Strengthen Teeth & Bones

More than one web article claims DE strengthens teeth and bones and references a study found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2658806/. This study is from a US National Institute of Health website and it deals with Silicon and Bone Health.

It is a well known fact that silicon plays an important role in the health of teeth and bones. Silicon is found in large quantities in Diatomaceous Earth. So logic would indicate that taking DE, if the silicon in DE is in a form readily absorb-able and usable in the body, that ingesting DE would give silicon to the body to use in teeth and bones.

Problem is, DE itself is very poorly absorbed in the human body and the type of silica in DE is even less absorbed by the human body. Nowhere in this extensive study or in the 125 references cited in this study can Diatomaceous Earth be found.

Other studies referenced by articles claiming DE strengthens teeth and bones make no reference to DE but instead reference Ortho-silicic acid and other forms of silicon which are not present in Diatomaceous Earth.

In conclusion, we believe that ortho-silicic acid (H4SiO4) might be a prominent therapeutic agent in humans. Some potential therapeutic and biological effects on bone formation and bone density, Alzheimer disease, immunodeficiency, skin, hair, and nails condition, as well as on tumour growth, have already been documented and are critically discussed in the presented paper.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3546016/

The claim that DE strengthens teeth and bones is a very suspect claim. I would not place much faith in it.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Nourish Hair

Another web claim made for Diatomaceous Earth is that it nourishes hair. That is, DE is claimed to give thicker hair that does not break as easily. To support this claim, the article references a study reported here; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17960402 Like the study above, this study is reported on a US National Institute of Health website.

Problem is the study did not use DE. Instead the study used;

Choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid ("ch-OSA") is a bioavailable form of silicon which was found to improve skin microrelief and skin mechanical properties in women with photoaged skin.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17960402/

So the claim that DE nourishes hair is another claim that is suspect since DE does not contain a "bioavailable form of silicon."

Does Diatomaceous Earth Support Detoxifying The Human Body

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride M.D. from Cambridge, UK (England) advocates the use of Diatomaceous Earth to help remove toxins from the body but not to take DE if you have severe digestive conditions such as Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis. http://www.gapsdiet.com/detoxification.html

Dr. Campbell-MCBride has written a book on detoxifying (link to read reviews on Amazon) entitled" Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia" that is available on Amazon.

This appears to be one claim for health benefits of DE that might be able to be believed!

Does Diatomaceous Earth Remove Parasites From The Human Body

Another internet claim is that Diatomaceous Earth will help remove parasites from your body. The articles I have read making this claim all reference the same study which is a study in the July 2011 Issue of Poultry Science. (https://academic.oup.com/ps/article/90/7/1416/1543647)

In that study 2 different breeds of commercial egg laying hens were studied to see if DE would reduce intestinal parasites and improve the hen's egg laying capacity. In addition to 2% DE in their diet, the hens diet included 35% montmorillonite, a supplement that has been shown to reduce irritable bowel syndrome and aflatoxicosis in farm animals.

Aflatoxicosis is caused in chickens by a particular fungi growing in feed stored under damp conditions. Among other problems it can cause a decrease in egg laying capacity, liver necrosis and suppression of the chicken's immune system.

The researchers believed that the combination of DE and aflatoxicosis both played a role in the hens decreased resistance to internal parasites.

It appears that those authors who write that DE can remove parasites from the human body may lack sufficient knowledge of medical and veterinary science to realize that it was a combination of DE and montmorillonite that worked together to achieve the results of that study.

The Poultry Science study does not show that DE reduces parasites or removes parasites from humans. As any researcher in Medicine knows, you can't assume that the results of animal studies are directly translatable to the same results in humans.

I would take this claim with a grain or two of salt until it is specifically proven by double blind human studies.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Increase Nutrient Absorption In Humans

The claim is made that food grade Diatomaceous Earth makes it easier to absorb essential vitamins and minerals from the human digestive system improving your overall health. The claim is supported by a 2009 British Journal of Nutrition Study, The Comparative Absorption Of Silicon From Different Foods And Food Supplements. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2744664/)

In this study silicon did increase absorption of nutrients in humans. Problem is, none of the silicon was from Diatomaceous Earth! It was all from sources that have bio-availability of silicon. The silica in DE is not bio-available! The referenced study does not prove DE increases nutrient absorption in humans!

Does Diatomaceous Earth Help Balance Your Hormones

The claim is made that Diatomaceous Earth plays a role in balancing your hormones by DE's claimed regulation of calcium and magnesium which is essential in balancing some hormones. Again a study is referenced. http://www.enerexusa.com/articles/calcium_magnesium_silica_boron.html/

This study, scroll way down in that article to find the section headed Silica, says silica helps regulate calcium and magnesium. It does not say that the silica in DE is bio-available enough to be effective in regulating calcium and magnesium! No study has shown that the silica in DE is bio-available! I would not depend on this claim made for DE.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Promote Heart Health

The claim is made that Diatomaceous Earth promotes heart health;

The silica that is found in diatomaceous earth helps to strengthen the body’s veins and arteries through the formation of elastin and collagen.

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nails

This claim is supported by a 1977 article from the British Journal The Lancet. Article title is, SILICON, FIBRE, AND ATHEROSCLEROSIS. (http://sili.cium.free.fr/lancet.htm)

The Lancet article compares the silicon found in 13 different plant sources. None of which is DE! Another DE claim is laid to rest.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Strengthen The Immune Response

Another claim made is that of Diatomaceous Earth strengthening the immune response;

According to research , the silica in diatomaceous earth helps to boost the production of the antibodies and antigens that the immune system needs to fight infections.

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nails

This claim falls in the category of needing further explanation to be properly understood. Here is the result of the article referenced as proof of this claim.

From an applied perspective, we can propose that DE can serve as a potential adjuvant for vaccines against poultry diseases.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2743301

You see, what really took place was newborn chicks were given a vaccination for a common chicken disease with some DE added to the vaccine. Then boosters - more vaccine plus DE - were given when the chicks were 21 and 29 days of age. Then 15 days after the second booster the responses to the vaccines were higher.

Notice the careful wording in the last quote above; "..., we can purpose that DE can serve as a potential adjuvant for vaccines against poultry diseases." This means that when used with a vaccine, DE can potentiate the vaccines response. There is no indication that DE used by itself improves immune response let alone that of the human immune system!

Is Diatomaceous Earth Essential For Collagen Production

Collagen is a protein structure in skin and connective tissue that keeps wrinkles and sags from happening. As we age, we tend to have wrinkles in skin and the loss of collagen in connective tissue causing parts of our body to sag.

The claim is made that the silica in Diatomaceous Earth helps prevent wrinkles and sags.

The silica found in diatomaceous earth is important for the production and maintenance of collagen, which is also helpful in healing the lining of the gut, maintaining healthy skin, and improving hair strength among other benefits.

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nails

The problem with this claim is the product used in the article referenced as proof was not DE. Here was their reference;

The results show that Loïc Le Ribault's G5 Organic Silica significantly increments the level of collagen produced by the human fibroblast cultures by comparison with the control.

https://www.orgonosilica.com/en/content/59-silicon-effects-on-collagen

There is a difference between DE and silica sand that was the source for the silica Dr. Le Ribault modified by adding both 3 Hydroxols (OH groups) and a Methyl (CH3 group). Thus the silica did not come from DE and it was further modified by chemistry before it increased the levels of collagen in human studies. The silicia in DE does nothing to help collagen formation!

Does Diatomaceous Earth Prevent Heavy Metal Toxicity

The accumulation of aluminum in the body has been linked to several diseases and also to Alzehimer's disease. It is claimed by some websites that Diatomaceous Earth can remove aluminum and other toxins.

The silica found in diatomaceous earth possesses heavy metal detox properties that reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions that can result from long-term aluminum poisoning.

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nails

Sadly this is another purported benefit of DE that does not live up to the claim. Even the article used to prove this claim is clear it is not the silica from DE but a special silica compound that had to be produced by an inorganic chemical process to be effective in reducing aluminum in the human body.

We prepared oligomeric silica, fresh on each occasion, at 42 mmol Si/L by dilution of the stock sodium silicate solution and neutralization to pH 7.2 with HCl. This 42-mmol/L solution was incubated at room temperature for 24 h before dilution (1–2 mmol Si/L) to prepare the doses.

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/71/4/944/4729147

The silica in DE is not oligomeric silica and DE has no effect on aluminum and other toxic heavy metals in the body.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Aid In Wound And Burn Healing

Another claim prevalent on the internet is that Diatomaceous Earth is beneficial in wound and burn healing.

The silica and other minerals found in food grade diatomaceous earth have been found to stimulate the rapid re-growth of damaged skin tissue. Silica is present in all human tissues at all times, with most of the silica that our body needs coming from our diet.

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nails

It is interesting that the above quote references silica from diet. The referenced study given as proof does show that silicon is present in various tissues of the body as a derivative of silicic acid. No mention though is made of DE being a likely source of the silicon.

As far as silicon from diet sources, no mention is made of silicon from DE in a study of silicon sources from diet. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2658806/). This article is from the Journal of Nutritional Health And Aging March 2009. Neither the article nor the 125 references indicate DE as a source of dietary silicon.

All dietary sources of silicon in the study on sources of silicon in the diet are from silicon found in food and beverages which is many times more bio-available to the human body than the silica found in DE.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Help Lower Blood Pressure

The claim that Diatomaceous Earth helps to lower blood pressure is actually not a claim for a benefit from the silica in DE but a claim for the trace amount of magnesium found in DE. A leading study showing that magnesium may help reduce blood pressure has this to say.

Consistent with previous studies, our evidence suggests that the anti-hypertensive effect of magnesium might be only effective among people with magnesium deficiency or insufficiency... Magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, some breakfast cereals, and other fortified food.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/311571.php

It is important to note that according to this study, magnesium only works in lowering blood pressure in people who have high blood pressure and who have magnesium deficiency or insufficiency.

What this means is that if you have a magnesium deficiency or insufficiency and do not have high blood pressure, taking magnesium may lower your blood pressure even if your blood pressure is not high. Chances are this is the reason there are reports on the internet of people taking DE and having blood pressure that is too low as a result.

It is important to know if you really do have high blood pressure and to check with your Health Care Practitioner before you attempt any method of blood pressure control not prescribed by your care giver.

There is no mention of DE as a source of magnesium lowering blood pressure in the medical study quoted above.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Have Anti-Inflammatory Benefits In Humans

A claim is made that Diatomaceous Earth has anti-inflammatory benefits in humans.

The magnesium content in diatomaceous earth helps to prevent the chronic inflammation that is responsible for so many diseases, with the rich mineral makeup also helping to prevent early ageing and obesity.

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nails

A web search for the amount of magnesium found in DE finally resulted in this information;

D.E. is about 3% magnesium, 33% silicon, 19% calcium, 5% sodium, 2% iron and various other trace minerals like titanium, boron, manganese, copper and also zirconium.

https://diatomaceous.org/about/

According to the initial quote I have at the beginning of this article, only minute amounts of DE are absorbed into the blood stream. The question that needs to be answered is, "What is the recommended daily allowance of magnesium?"

The RDA for magnesium is 310–420 mg for adults depending on age and gender. If you require a supplement, dosage recommendations can vary depending on your needs, such as to improve constipation, sleep, muscle cramps or depression. Most studies found positive effects with daily doses of 125–2,500 mg.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/magnesium-dosage

If only minute amounts of DE are absorbed into the blood stream and magnesium is only 3% of DE, the chances of your getting any appreciable effect from the magnesium in DE is extremely unlikely! So this claim is debunked.

Does DE Help Control Diabetes

Another claim for Diatomaceous Earth is to control diabetes. Here's the quote;

The magnesium and manganese found in diatomaceous earth are both known to provide assistance in controlling diabetes, which is one of the most prevalent diseases in the developed world.

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nails

Here is the opening statement in the reference used to prove the claim that the magnesium and manganese in DE are both known to provide assistance in controlling diabetes;

Type 2 diabetes is frequently associated with both extracellular and intracellular magnesium (Mg) deficits. A chronic latent Mg deficit or an overt clinical hypomagnesemia is common in patients with type 2 diabetes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549665

Type 2 Diabetes is what used to be called Adult Onset Diabetes or Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes. This is the form of diabetes that most often develops in adults. It may later become Type 1 Diabetes, or Insulin Dependent Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is the form of diabetes that develops in children. They need Insulin to live.

So the first thing to realize is magnesium is not helpful in childhood diabetes, only in the form of diabetes that develops in adults. The second thing to realize is that, as shown in the section immediately above, magnesium is only 3% of DE makeup and DE is only absorbed into the blood stream in minute amounts.

What is needed to be understood is that so little magnesium is present in DE and even less magnesium is absorbed into the blood stream from taking DE as a supplement. Any effect on Type 2 Diabetes from magnesium associated with dietary supplementation with DE would have little to no chance of changing the course of Type 2 Diabetes.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Help You Look Younger

As we humans age, there are changes in our bodies that cause wrinkles and other visible effects of aging. To listen to the praises of Diatomaceous Earth you would think that DE constituted the proverbial "Fountain of Youth" so much sought after by mankind. Here is a typical claim for DE to help you to look younger.

Silica and many of the other minerals found in diatomaceous earth are known to have an effect on skin elasticity and other factors known to affect beauty and subjective ageing. While the silica found in high-grade diatomaceous earth is retained by the body in all tissues,the highest levels of silica have been found in bone and other connective tissues related to physical appearance, including skin, nails, and hair

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nail

The above statement is a prime example of a misunderstanding of how much silica is absorbed from natural sources. In fact the reference used to support the above statement has these words in it;

Thus natural levels of soluble (available) silica are low.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2658806/

The same article goes on to say that;

[W]eathering, however, releases silicon from these stable minerals, increasing its bioavailability...predominately as Si(OH)4 the most stable specie...referred to as ‘monosilicic acid’ or ‘orthosilicic acid’...Si(OH)4

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2658806

What this is saying is that to have a form of silicon that is bio-available, easily absorbed into the blood stream of humans, requires a change in the form of silica to ortho-silicic acid. This process can occur naturally as an effect of weathering which includes the effect of water on the silica over a prolonged period of time.

Ortho-silicic acid is more bio-available but studies have shown that for improvement in the effects of aging on the skin requires further refinement resulting in a compound that is SiCH₃3OH or 3 Hydroxyl groups and a Methyl group attached to a single silicon molecule. (sometimes written as CH₃Si3OH) (https://www.orgonosilica.com/en/content/59-silicon-effects-on-collagen)

The result is a form of silicon that is far removed from the silica in DE before it can be effective in reducing the effects (improving the effects) of aging in humans. The silica in DE does not reduce the effects of aging to any appreciable degree in humans.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Help Prevent Kidney Stones And Heal Urinary Tract Infections

Another internet claim made for Diatomaceous Earth is that it may help prevent kidney stones. That the high levels of magnesium in DE can act as a natural diuretic and may promote normal functioning of the urinary system because magnesium supplements can decrease urinary infections.

Magnesium in DE is a trace mineral because there are no high levels of magnesium in DE. A careful reading of these claims reveals that nothing is being promised from the use of DE. These claims could be written with the following wording and be as true as with the wording they are written with:

"DE probably will not help prevent kidney stones but then again DE may prevent kidney stones. DE probably will not decrease urinary infections but on the other hand, who knows, DE may decrease urinary infections. Buy my super high grade DE and find out!"

The article referenced to support the magnesium in DE helping with urinary tract problems was not a study as claimed in the DE article but a report of 2 cases where, among many other natural remedies such as Vitamins B2, B5, B6, B12, probiotics, L-arginine and cranberry tablets they were given Magnesium Tablets 300 mg. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4283390/)

To claim that the minute amount of magnesium in DE may help in urinary tract infections that were recurring based upon a report of 2 cases treated with multiple remedies at the same time strains all credibility.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Help Decrease Headaches And Migraines

Another common internet claim for Diatomaceous Earth goes like this; Headaches, migraines, and conditions such as vertigo and tinnitus may be partially helped by the magnesium in Food Grade DE and other natural supplements. All that is missing in this claim is the "or may not be helped" language.

In medical studies of the effect of intravenous magnesium 1000mg given at the onset of migraine headaches, up to 36.7% improvement of migraine headaches were observed at 1 hour after intravenous magnesium 1000mg was given. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12110110?dopt=Abstract)

There is a world of difference between intravenous infusion of 1000mg of magnesium and trying to ingest enough DE to get any appreciable amount of magnesium which is present in DE at a 3% level. Included in this difference is the bio-availability of intravenous magnesium versus oral intake of magnesium.

Intravenous bio-availability is many magnitudes above oral bio-availability. Response time from intravenous administration of magnesium is vastly faster than oral administration of magnesium, even if you could calculate how much DE to take orally that would give 1000mg of magnesium.

Bottom line, don't expect anywhere near the same results from the magnesium from DE as were achieved from intravenous magnesium.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Work As A Skin Exfoliate

Maybe here is a place where Diatomaceoua Earth can really be used and have a positive result! There are several internet sites claiming DE is good as an exfoliate.

One site, complete with 7 days worth of pictures, claimed that washing her face with Diatomaceous Earth was really worth it. (https://www.bustle.com/articles/174587-i-washed-my-face-with-fossilized-algae-it-was-totally-worth-it)

This lady felt she got good results and was willing to show pictures of her results. Just be sure the DE used is Food Grade DE if you decide to try it and be careful about breathing the DE powder!

Does Diatomaceous Earth Decrease The Risk Of Bone Fractures

Diatomaceous Earth being able to decrease the risk for the incidence of bone breakage, fractures, is another claim found on the internet.

The silica in food grade diatomaceous earth is known to increase bone volume and mass, with dietary silicon one of the best ways to improve bone and connective tissue health and reduce the risk of bone fractures.

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nail

Silicon does have a role to play in bone formation and in increasing the density of bones in older people. Yet DE was not mentioned as a dietary source of silicon in the article referenced as proof of DE decreasing the risk of bone fractures.

Other studies showed in osteoporotic subjects silicon supplementation resulted in increased bone volume...Dietary sources of silicon include whole grains and cereals, carrots and green beans.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5318168

As you should know by now, if you have read up to this point, DE is not absorbed in any appreciable amounts when taken internally. Also the silica in DE is not in a form that has any real bio-availability in humans. In other words, you'd have to consume a very high amount of DE to begin to get any real benefit from taking it internally to improve bone density!

Does Diatomaceous Earth Help Endocrine Function

Let me quote from a leading article on the internet about Diatomaceous Earth helping Endocrine Function;

Aging and poor health often lead to decreased silica absorption and inadequate or reduced hormone or thyroid activity, which can be partially alleviated with silica supplements or the ingestion of diatomaceous earth products.

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nail

Lets look at the above quote carefully. The last part of it says "which can be partially alleviated with silica supplements or the ingestion of Diatomaceous Earth products. Did you notice what is missing from this quote? It does not say that DE, itself, alleviates endocrine problems. It says that DE products can alleviate endocrine products!

What would constitute a DE product? That would be extracting the silica from DE and converting it to a form such as ortho-silicic acid which we have learned has a much improved bio-availability to humans! The above quote was carefully structured to make you think DE, itself, would be beneficial yet a close inspection of the quote shows it really says something else!

Does Diatomaceous Earth Help Purify Water

An internet claim that Diatomaceous Earth helps kill dangerous viruses and purify drinking water referenced a "study published in the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology." The link in the claim to verify or support the claim took one to a review of 383 studies printed in Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews that had no mention of DE in any form.

A web search did turn up an article titled Use of Modified Diatomaceous Earth for Removal and Recovery of Viruses in Water from Applied And Environmental Microbiology, Sept. 1991. The DE in this article was not Food Grade DE and it was significantly modified before it was effective in removing 80% of the viruses in the study. (https://aem.asm.org/content/aem/57/9/2502.full.pdf)

Based upon the study found that did address the ability of DE to filter viruses from the water, it is clear that the DE was not plain Food Grade DE.

Non-food Grade DE is a known filter material for swimming pool filters. However, this type of DE is not advertised for removing or killing dangerous bacteria and viruses from water.

The claim that Food Grade Diatomaceus Earth removes viruses from water is not supported by the research.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Help Provide Energy To Your Body

Another internet claim positively states that Diatomaceous Earth helps to provide energy to your body;

The magnesium content in diatomaceous earth helps your body to produce energy from food and improve exercise performance.

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nail

The article referenced to support this claim found that in studies to date, the article was written in July 2017, the results of magnesium supplementation to improve exercise performance were less than conclusive. Even with 250 mg/day of magnesium supplementation there was no concrete improvement in exercise performance.

This same referenced article, (https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/9/946/htm), Can Magnesium Enhance Exercise Performance, had reviewed studies with an 8mg/kg dosage of magnesium. That 8mg/kg dosage would equal 560mg magnesium in a 70 kg (154 lbs) man. You will not get this amount of magnesium from ingestion of lots of DE in any one day.

There is not enough magnesium in DE to improve energy in any appreciable amount.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Reduce The Risk Of Dementia

To find out if Diatomaceous Earth reduces the risk of Dementia, I am compelled to give this complete quote from the internet.

The high silica content in diatomaceous earth, along with the other nutrients and anti-oxidants, may be helpful in reducing the risk of dementia. According to a 2009 report published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, silica can be ingested to counteract the damaging effects of aluminum in drinking water.


In the study, scientists found that the mineral silica can help to decrease the risk of aluminum-induced dementia in elderly patients, with diatomaceous earth one of the best sources of silica in the world.

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nail

The obvious items will be dealt with first:

  • The second paragraph of the quote above tends to lead one to believe that maybe DE was mentioned in the report as playing a role in the decrease of aluminum-induced dementia.
  • The only mention of silica in the report was the level of silica in the tap water or bottled water consumed by the participants in the study.
  • Although 80% or so of DE, depending upon where it is mined from, is made up of silica, DE is extremely poorly absorbed into the human blood stream so DE is not "one of the best sources of silica in the world when it comes to human consumption!"

The results of the study are stated as follows;

The risk of dementia was higher for subjects with a high daily aluminum intake...Conversely, an increase of 10 mg/day in silica intake was associated with a reduced risk of dementia.

https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/169/4/489/1198

So, yes, silica intake was associated with a decrease in the risk of dementia. However, it is also true that the silica intake was not from DE, but rather from the bio-available silica in the drinking water of those who were protected from dementia or in their bottled water.

I have yet to come across a reputable scientific source that claims that DE is one of the best sources of silica in the world when it comes to absorption in the human blood stream. Websites pushing DE for health benefits make the claim, but do not show the proof of DE being one of the best sources of silica for absorption in the human blood stream.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Reduce The Risk Of Alzheimer's Disease

Reducing the risk of Alzheimer's Disease is another internet claim for Diatomaceous Earth in this quote;

Diatomaceous earth may be able to help decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, with studies already showing the health benefits of water that is rich in silicon. According to a study by Christopher Exley, a leading scientist on the issue of aluminum toxicity, silicon dissolved in water can chelate damaging aluminum from the body without having any harmful effects on other beneficial metals.

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nai

Judging from the above quote, it seems reasonable that all you need to do to make "water that is rich in silicon" is to mix DE into water and drink it down. According to another article by the same Christopher Exley, this is not the case!

Silicon-rich mineral waters help to remove aluminum from the body because they are actually rich in soluble silicon or silicic acid. This form of silicon immediately follows water molecules through the gut wall and into the bloodstream where it forms a complex with aluminum called an hydroxyaluminosilicate. This form of aluminum can be easily filtered from the blood by the kidney. Hence, silicon-rich mineral waters increase the excretion of aluminum in the urine.

https://www.hippocraticpost.com/nursing/why-everyone-should-drink-silicon-rich-mineral-water/

You see, the silica in DE is not "soluble silicon or silicic acid." That is a completely different compound from silica and it is not made by simply mixing DE in water.

Professor Exley mentions two sources of "silicon rich water" in the article "Why Everyone Should Drink Silicon Rich Mineral Water." Perhaps you have seen one or both of those sources? They are Fiji water (link to read reviews on Amazon) and Volvic water (link to read reviews on Amazon).

There are other brands of water that are mineral rich. According to Professor Exley you should look for a minimum concentration of 30 mg/L or 30 ppm written as ‘silica’ on the label.

You do not get mineral rich or silicon rich water by mixing DE in tap water and drinking it!

Does Diatomaceous Earth Help Prevent Post-Menopausal Osteoporosis

The claim that Diatomaceous Earth helps to prevent Post-Menopausal Osteoporosis is related to the claim that DE can improve bone density. The claim is made that silica and many of the other minerals in DE are only now starting to be recognized as helpful in Post-Menopausal Osteoporosis. Here is what the supporting review of the situation says in regards to silicon.

Dietary sources of bio-available silicon include whole grains, cereals, beer, and some vegetables such as green beans. Silicon in the form of silica, or silicon dioxide (SiO2), is a common food additive but has limited intestinal absorption.

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2013/316783

As with improving bone density the real question about DE being helpful is "whether or not the silica in DE is bio-available?" We have already shown that DE is not absorbed in any appreciable amounts in the human blood stream so by definition, the silica in DE is not bio-available. Therefore DE is not helpful in preventing Post-Menopausal Osteoporosis.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Help Reduce Stress And Optimize Your Nervous System

The claim that Diatomaceous Earth helps reduce stress and optimize your nervous system is made on the internet this way;

The magnesium levels found in diatomaceous earth are capable of optimizing our central nervous system and helping our cells to produce and use energy. Magnesium is crucial for a wide range of body functions, helping with stress management, anxiety, and cell repair. By increasing our magnesium levels with diatomaceous earth and other supplements, we can optimize our nervous system, moderate out anxiety levels, and feel less stressed throughout the day.

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nail

In the review of studies using magnesium that was referenced in support of the claim that DE helps reduce stress and optimize your nervous system, the amounts of magnesium used were between 46 and 500mg/day. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452159/)

We have already established that magnesium is 3% of the composition of DE and that DE is absorbed into the human blood stream in only minute amounts. In no study referenced for claims that the magnesium in DE helps humans in any way has DE even been mentioned as a source of magnesium. The magnesium in DE plays no role in helping the human body.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Help You Have Healthy Sleep Patterns

This internet claim that Diatomaceous Earth helps you to have healthy sleep patterns can be found in these two sentences from the website article;

The magnesium and calcium in diatomaceous earth is needed by the body to promote healthy sleep patterns, with insomnia one of the primary symptoms of magnesium and calcium deficiency...Poor sleep and insomnia are responsible for so many health conditions, with a lack of magnesium and other key minerals found in diatomaceous earth often having a snowball effect.

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nail

According to the Sleep Doctor, Michael J. Breus Ph.D. in a May 14, 2018 article in Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201805/what-you-need-know-about-magnesium-and-your-sleep) an adult needs between 100mg and 250mg magnesium for general health, sleep and stress reduction each day.

You will not get this amount of magnesium from DE and DE is not mentioned as a source of magnesium in any medical clinical study referenced.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Help With Muscle Weakness And Fatigue

Another claim on the internet is that Diatomaceous Earth has phosphorus and calcium that can reduce muscle weakness, numbness and fatigue.

In the article Disorders Involving Calcium, Phosphorus, and Magnesium by Sharon M. Moe, M.D. the following dosages are given for low levels of calcium and phosphorus such as when there is muscle weakness and fatigue.

Calcium gluconate (10 ml vial = 94 mg elemental calcium) or calcium chloride (10 ml vial = 273 mg elemental calcium)...[A]dministration of phosphate...Oral supplementation can be given with skim milk (1000mg/quart), whole milk (850 mg/quart), Neutraphosph K capsules® (250 mg/capsule; max dose is 3 tabs q 6 hrs), or Neutraphosph® solution (128 mg/ml solution). Milk is much better tolerated (and cheaper!) and the concomitant administration of vitamin D in the milk or as a supplement will enhance its absorption.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2486454/

Knowing that DE is very minimally absorbed into the human bloodstream, it is easy to see that it would take massive amounts of DE ingested to begin to come close to the needed amounts of calcium and phosphorus to help muscle weakness and fatigue.

DE does not meet the requirements of bio-availability to be a valid treatment in muscle weakness and fatigue.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Help With Impotence

The last internet claim for Diatomaceous Earth we will deal with is that of it helping with impotence.

The phosphorus in diatomaceous earth can also have a positive effect on libido levels and impotence, making it a great sexual tonic when combined with a healthy diet and exercise. Phosphate is an excitatory or high-energy mineral because it is used to fuel our bodies and produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

https://happymammoth.co/31-health-benefits-of-diatomaceous-earth/#nail

According to one website, DE includes 15 trace minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, copper, zinc, iron, phosphorous, and selenium. (https://diatomaceous.org/about/)

Since phosphorus is a trace mineral it is available in extremely small amounts in DE. Since DE is only minimally absorbed into the human blood stream there is little chance of getting enough phosphorous from DE to effect impotence.

Conclusion As To Health Claims

We have looked at 30 health claims from the internet for Diatomaceous Earth. If all these claims were proven to be true, DE would truly be a super food we should all consume.

Of the 30 claims for DE effectiveness, three of the claims might be valid. Those three claims are:

  • DE may play a small role in reducing cholesterol
  • DE may play a small role in detoxifying the human body
  • DE plays a role in removing parasites in chickens but there is no direct evidence DE plays a role in removing parasites in humans. So, DE might play a role in humans also

Of the 30 claims for DE effectiveness, one claim is probably valid

  • Diatomaceous Earth probably works as a skin exfoliate

So out of 30 claims, there are 4 claims that might or probably are valid. That is a score of 13.3%. Clearly as a health adjunct, DE falls far short of the claims made for it.

Valid Uses For Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is a great natural insecticide or pesticide that kills hard shelled bugs and centipedes. DE is safe to use as a dust on garden plants but must be re-applied after watering or a rain because it looses its bug killing property when it is damp or wet.

DE is something useful in preventing bug infestation in stored flour, grains and dried beans, peas, corn and lentils. DE is a component of many stored feeds for stock animals.

We have been using Diatomaceous Earth (link to read reviews on Amazon) for a lot of years as a natural insecticide, storing our flour, grains and dried legumes and also for keeping our pets free of fleas with wonderful success. We would encourage others to do the same.

Safety Of Diatomaceous Earth

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is safe for humans, other mammals and some fowl. Ingestion of Food Grade DE should not harm humans, other mammals and fowl. This safety factor is a prime reason that those who want to achieve natural pest control in their homes or on their homesteads use DE instead of chemical pesticides. It's certainly what we do!

This safety factor is also a main reason many homesteaders who store flour, grains and dried legumes and corn will add DE to the storage containers to limit damage done to these stored foods by bugs that may be present or hatch from eggs that may be in the stored foods.

Related Questions

Is eating Diatomaceous Earth harmful? Eating DE or drinking it in water is not harmful to mammals. That includes humans, stock animals such as horses, cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens (even though they are technically fowl not mammals), dogs and cats.

I have asthma, will breathing DE harm me? Breathing DE should be avoided as much as possible for everyone. Those with asthma or other lung problems can have a higher incidence of shortness of breath if they inhale Food Grade DE. Non-Food Grade DE should not be inhaled and it can cause long term lung problems such as Silicosis.

Can I use Diatomaceous Earth to dust chickens and geese for mites? Yes, just try to keep them from inhaling any of the DE. It is best to dust under the wings, on the back and neck, under the belly and around the vent. You may want to use gloves when dusting fowls and wash your arms and hands afterwards. DE left on skin can dry the skin and irritate some people

About The Author

John Brownlee

A retired Lawyer and Health Care Provider, he teaches people how to locate, evaluate, and purchase Country and Homestead Property. He and his wife, Linda, have taught hundreds of people how to suture wounds in an emergency. He teaches both Preparedness and Health Care Classes and has been a Presenter at Sustainable Preparedness Expos. He holds a General Ham Radio Operator's License.