Diatomaceous earth benefit and supplement
June 15 2015 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Diatomaceous earth is also known as diatomite, kieselguhr, or celite. It is a naturally occurring, chalk-like sedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine off-white powder. This powder is very light, due to its high porosity. The typical chemical composition of diatomaceous earth is 86% silica, 5% sodium, 3% magnesium and 2% iron.   This supplement has been tested to treat high cholesterol.

Diatomaceous earth lowers blood cholesterol concentrations
Eur J Med Res. 1998; Institute of Medical Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.
In this study a potential influence of diatomaceus earth to lower blood cholesterol was investigated. During 12 weeks we monitored serum lipid concentrations in 19 healthy individuals with a history of moderate high cholesterols. Individuals administered orally 250 mg diatomaceous earth three-times daily during an 8 weeks observation period. Serum concentrations of cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides levels were measured before study entry, every second week during the period of diatomaceous earth intake and 4 weeks after stop of intake. Compared to baseline diatomaceous earth intake was associated with a significant reduction of serum cholesterol at any time point, reaching a minimum on week 6. Also low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides levels decreased. Four weeks after intake of diatomaceous earth was stopped, serum cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides still remained low and also the increase of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol became significant. Diatomaceous earth, a bioproduct, is capable of reducing blood cholesterol and positively influencing lipid metabolism in humans. Placebo-controlled studies will be necessary to confirm our findings.

Joint Bone Spine. 2010. Silica-associated limited systemic sclerosis after occupational exposure to calcined diatomaceous earth. Silica-associated systemic sclerosis can occur in persons using calcined diatomaceous earth for filtration purpose. A limited systemic sclerosis was diagnosed in a 52-year-old male winegrower who had a combination of Raynaud's phenomenon, oesophageal dysfunction, sclerodactyly and telangectasia. The anti-centromere antibodies titre was 1/5000. The patient was frequently exposed to high atmospheric concentrations of calcined diatomaceous earth when performing the filtration of wines. Calcined diatomaceous earth is almost pure crystalline silica under the cristobalite form. The diagnosis of silica-associated limited systemic sclerosis after exposure to calcined diatomaceous earth was made. The patient's disease met the medical, administrative and occupational criteria given in the occupational diseases list 22 bis of the agriculture Social Security scheme and thence was presumed to be occupational in origin, without need to be proved. The diagnosis of occupational disease had been recognized by the compensation system of the agricultural health insurance.

I was recently told of this product, food-grade diatomaceous earth as one of those new supplements du jour. It supposedly lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, improves hair, nails and skin (due to high amounts of silicon) but also helps colon health due to removing parasites etc. in the intestinal tract. I see testimonials online, but who knows if any of that is true. I also see that it is used as pesticide (organic) and used for horses, cows, dogs and cats and supposedly is safe and nontoxic. However, I'd be curious to know your opinion of this product.
   A. We could only find one human study thus far that has evaluated the benefits of this substance. This trial was done in Austria. The term diatomaceous earth is not very specific and each company selling such a product would have a substance that would be different from that of another company's product. Therefore, with limited human research and the fact that the composition of each product from different manufacturers is different, it is not easy to know the full benefits and risks of this substance. The one study thus far did show benefits in reducing cholesterol, but there are many other natural supplements that have a benefit in cholesterol reduction which have been studied much more carefully.

 I am suffering from joint arthritis and heard that silica is advisable. I just read your article on orthosilicic silica. I also recently became aware of diamateous earth is rich in silica, but a question was raised as to whether I would be absorbing this abundant silica. If not is there anything that would make it more absorbable.
   A. I have not studied the effect of silica form diatomaceous earth to know whether it is effective for arthritis or osteoarthritis.