You may know diatomaceous earth (DE) as the fine white fossilized powder you use to rid your pets of fleas, control pests in your garden, and kill bedbugs. But did you also know that you can take it internally to improve your health? In the past I’ve added DE to my candida-killing and parasite protocols, and I’ve taken it internally myself with excellent results, so it’s time for me to rave about it. This stuff is AWESOME!
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
DE is a fine powder made from fossilized phytoplankton. It’s very sharp and hard– almost as hard as a diamond–which is significant because it slices through the exoskeletons of pests and bacteria, killing them, but leaves your human digestive tract unharmed. DE looks a little like Rice Chex Cereal. It’s cylindrical and has a very strong negative charge. As these millions of cylinders move through the stomach and digestive tract, they attract and absorb fungi, protozoa, viruses, endotoxins, pesticides, drug residues, E.coli, and heavy metals which are trapped inside the cylinder and then excreted from the body. In addition, any larger parasites that happen to be in the stomach or digestive tract are “cut up” and killed by the sharp edges of DE.
Can Diatomaceous Earth Improve Your Health?
There haven’t been any meaningful studies on DE and human health, so benefits are anecdotal but the following have been reported:
- improved bowel movements
- hairs grows faster, stronger nails
- reduction in acne
- kills intestinal parasites, candida and fungal overgrowth
- stronger teeth and gums
- bone health
- healthy colon
- natural detoxifier: absorbs methyl mercury, E. coli, endotoxins, viruses (including poliovirus), organophosphate pesticide residues, and drug residues
- may lower blood pressure and cholesterol
- high concentration of silica may reduce osteoporosis
- improvement in joint pain and arthritis
- reduces aches and pains by strengthening connective tissue & collagen
- helps with skin problems and injuries including itching, rashes, abscesses, boils, acne, callouses, eczema, burns, benign skin sores, insect bites and bed sores.
- colon cleansing & heavy metal detox
Many of DE’s amazing benefits are due to its high concentration of the trace mineral silica (89 percent of DE is silica). It also contains roughly 20 trace minerals! Most of us are sorely lacking in minerals due to poor diets and the fact that our produce is grown in anemic soils. That means our vegetables don’t have the nutrient density they once did: A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent. (source) Minerals are critical for metabolic functions in the body, and deficiencies contribute to anxiety, aging, cardiovascular disease, constipation, and increased stress. Silica is essential for building healthy bones and teeth, skin, hair, and nails. I’ve noticed my hair growing like crazy since I began using DE!
Diatomaceous Earth for Better Poops
The number one benefit people report soon after using DE is an improvement in bowel movements, something to which I can personally attest. Apparently the millions of tiny hard and sharp DE cylinders “scrub” the walls of the intestines and boost colon cleansing. You’ll notice more regular bowel movements, and better function means they’re scrubbing your intestinal walls, capturing toxins and efficiently excreting them.
And as I mentioned, I’ve been using DE as part of my protocols for gut dysbiosis, candida overgrowth and parasites. Normalizing gut flora improves digestion, fat burning, and skin health. Better bowel function is one reason why DE improves skin health. It’s well documented that the health of the skin mirrors the health of the gut. Acne and other skin issues are related to poor digestion, constipation and a build up of toxins in the colon, and poor gut flora. Better moving bowels and a clean colon = healthier skin.
Diatomaceous Earth for Detox
The bowel is the body’s main vehicle for excretion of toxins. Regular bowel movements are the number one way you can prevent toxins from being reabsorbed into your system. The bowel binds up both endogenous (internal toxins produced as a result of metabolic processes) and exogenous (external) toxins from your food, bodycare products, medications, and environment and whisks them out via stool. If you’re not pooping at least once daily, stool sits in the colon and toxins and excess hormones are reabsorbed into the system. Because DE bulks up the stool and enhances bowel movements, it’s a wonderful detoxer.
There is evidence that DE is effective for heavy metal detox, particularly mercury. This is excellent news, as high levels of mercury in the system contribute to candida overgrowth, dementia, and cardiovascular disease. Mercury has an affinity for brain tissue where it contributes to neuron bundle damage, especially if you’re not detoxing well. It can also build up in fetal tissue and contribute to delayed brain development in fetuses and babies (source).
How to Take Diatomaceous Earth Internally
First off, AWLAYS BUY FOOD GRADE DE! This is very important. This is the DE I use and like. Also, when using DE, be careful not to inhale the fine powder, as the small hard particles can damage lungs.
Here is how I recommend taking DE: start with 1/2 teaspoon for the first week first thing in the AM or right before bed. Mix with a large glass of water. It doesn’t have much taste– to me it’s a bit gritty but very pleasant mixed with freshly squeezed lemon. After a week, move the dose up to 1 teaspoon, then try increasing up to 1 Tablespoon with a full 8 ounces of water per day, preferably on an empty stomach. Be sure to stir your mixture consistently as DE tends to settle to bottom of glass. I don’t recommend taking it interminably; start with 2-3 months, then take a break.
For enhanced colon cleansing and heavy metal detox, use bentonite clay, or take 2 of these GI detox charcoal/clay capsules along with it. Take the clay or drawing formula along with the DE for one month at a time only. Drink this “sludgy cocktail” one hour away from food or other supplements, as the clay will interfere with absorption of supplements or nutrients.
If you’re taking the DE alone, you don’t need to worry about that as much, but I always take it on an empty stomach regardless. I’d also recommend taking a good quality probiotic while you’re doing the sludgy cocktail or using the plain DE for enhanced digestive and skin health. It’s great to work on building up your gut flora when you’re addressing digestive wellness. This is especially true if you’re doing a candida protocol.
Using Diatomaceous Earth for your Pets
You can use DE in your pets’ food too as a dewormer and to kill intestinal parasites. It eliminates roundworms, whipworms, pinworms, and hookworms within seven days, but make sure to use it for a full 30 days to catch newly hatching eggs throughout the life cycle. You can also sprinkle it around pets’ living quarters or their beds, then wait several hours before vacuuming it up. Again, be careful they’re not inhaling it. Click here for pet and livestock dosage instructions. There are many additional uses for DE around the home and garden! Click here for uses around home and garden. You can also use it on your skin and to make toothpaste. Click here for a tutorial.
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Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.