Scientific research of food grade diatomaceous earth?

I’ve just discovered diatomaceous earth, a sort of wonder “food” that supposedly treats a wide variety of health problems. Here’s one website that stocks it, along with further information:

Still, as with any strange medicine or food, I would like to see multiple studies that conclusively demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the product. I can’t seem to find much other than anecdotes and speculation. Does anyone know anything about this stuff?

Thanks in advance.

I use it for pest control.

Here’s what I know: the powder is made of tiny silica particls, which are extremely rough and pointy in a microscopic way. So when any hard-shelled insect (flea, roach, beetle etc.) walks through it, they get teensy-tiny openings in their exoskeleton and eventually they dehydrate. This is why you should not breathe it in or get it in your eyes, though it won’t hurt your skin besides drying the shit out of it.

What I’ve read - but am not certain about - is that it’s often used internally for livestock and such. Added to the animal’s food, it affects (supposedly? anyone wanna chime in here?) internal parasites such as worms in the same manner.
General rule of thumb with anything that smacks of woo-woo: the more conditions (and the more disparate they are) that it claims to cure, the less likely it is to work. Helps soften skin while reducing the appearance of spots? Sure, maybe. Softens skin, gets rid of wrinkles, cures cancer, promotes liver health and fights AIDS? Prolly not.

Well, who wouldn’t trust a web site with animated wolves all over it?

Can’t find any research regarding human consumption of diatomaceous earth, but lord, that site reads like BS to me. The word “detox” is a big red flag, before even reading further.

So, the stuff slices and dices parasites, but magically doesn’t harm your intestines. Uh huh.

Guess what. You WANT mucus lining your intestines. That is what lubricates the poop as it slides through, to be graphic.

Sure, you’re getting gross stuff in your poop; it’s because you’re eating one of the absorbent components of cat litter.

Contrary to what a disturbing number of people selling this kind of stuff (and I mean other “detoxing” supplements besides this one as well) want you to think, the walls of your colon do not get coated with toxic sludge. When someone truly has an intestinal blockage, it’s in the center (lumen) of the pipe, and anything that does get through is squeezing by on the sides, because stuff doesn’t stick to the walls, which are coated with mucus. Any “gross stuff” that you crap out is there because of the supplement, not because the supplement is cleaning out gunk that was already there.

The best thing you can say about this kind of thing is that it probably won’t actively hurt you, but it’s not a magic pill that will solve every medical problem from arthritis to cancer.

My thoughts exactly. Stay away from this stuff.

It’s a non-chemical pest control. It works great for that purpose, and if ingested in pretty small quantities, well, it hasn’t killed us yet.

We use it lightly dusted throughout our grains, flour, and pasta which are stored for long periods of time to kill the little bug eggs and baby bugs that eventually infest those foods - I’d rather eat a few crushed-up microscopic shells than eat bugs - and in the case of the grains and pasta, we rinse them before preparing them to eat in order to diminish the DO that we’re ingesting.

We also use it thickly dusted under our houses and barns to combat termites and in our yard to combat fire ants.

I sure as hell wouldn’t go eating the stuff as a supplement - why would you need to?

Most residents of the USA don’t have parasites as a general health concern (usually one notices parasites, and most parasites come from unclean drinking water, which most USA residents don’t have to worry about), and DO won’t do anything to your bacteria. I also don’t believe (I don’t have a cite, sorry) that DO is as effective when it’s wet, so once inside you, I have a hard time believing it would do much more than bind up with your food and pass on through your GI tract.

At the worst (which if you’re eating a shitload of it, could happen) it’s going to sandpaper away your GI lining, and then you have ulcers and infections and irritations galore, which will make you significantly less happy than you would be otherwise.

Save this one to kill bugs with, and you’re in good company. Eat it, and that’s getting into weird territory.

After reading the rest of your post, I’m not sure at all that this is true.

You do eat this stuff all the time. its commonly used to keep stored product pests out of stored grains etc…

Its used orally in veterinary treatment (usually large animals - horses etc) as an antiparasitic. Some people take it as a supplement for the same reason.

My (admittedly cursory) Pubmed search doesn’t turn up any controlled studies looking at human ingestion of the stuff. Its probably harmless in reasonable doses. Don’t know what larger amounts would do. It wouldn’t poison you - the stuff is inert - but I wonder if it would cause some sort of physical damage. My guess is it would come out the other end pretty much in the same state in went in.

Now, non-food grade DE can be nasty stuff - the crystals are much larger and cause damage. Don’t eat/inhale it!

After some search using Google Scholar, I can find no research as regards the medical uses of diatomaceous earth by humans consuming it. I would say then that the “cites” give by the OP are mostly “woo”.

It does have many uses to filter stuff and some uses for pest control:

I agree with **Jenaroph. **

As long as we’re here … anyone feel like weighing in on the claim in the OP’s link that humans need to ingest silica?

“Silica is the most plentiful element on earth, following oxygen; but there are very few foods that contain an adequate amount to supply the quantity your body needs…”

What’s the straight dope on that aspect?

First off, SIlica is not an element. Silicon is an element, but you need, at most, trace amounts of it and no one suffers from a silicon deficiency.

Silica is vernacular for silicon dioxide. Other names foe silicon dioxide include sand, and glass. Any takers on bets for how much glass is required for normal healthy biological functioning? Anyone?

i.e., none. The claim is woo.

The idea of using it as a nutritional supplement sounds pretty goofy to me. I know of diatomite or DE from its use in liquid filtration. It is so easy to filter out of water that it actually makes it easier to filter out other things, if you add some.

It is little mineral skeletons of tiny sea creatures, and has the form of beautiful lacy flakes or shells. This makes it form fluffy and permeable “cake” on the surface of a filter, yet gives it an effective small pore size.

As far as I know, the only reason they give it to livestock is that they use it as filter precoat and body feed when filtering things like fruit juice, that otherwise form a slimy and difficult filter cake that quickly plugs the filter. This cake is nutritious because of the fruit pulp and slime. The diatomite is collateral damage, so to speak. Together they form a possible cattle feed, or else maybe compost or industrial waste.

As I understand it, the reason it kills insects is that its tiny sharp edges get caught in insect joints and scrape up the smooth, close-fitting surfaces there. It’s like getting sand in gears and spoiling them. This interferes with joint motion and maybe makes the insect leak body fluids. It wouldn’t work on worms, which have flexible skins rather than hard shells with joints.

Your body does not seem to need Silicon in any significant amounts, there does not seem to be any need to supplement your diet to add Silicon.
wiki “Although silicon was proposed to be a ultra trace nutrition its exact function in the biology of animals is still under discussion.”
"Nutritional requirements for boron, silicon, vanadium, nickel, and arsenic: current knowledge and speculation…Based on these findings and the response of animals and/or humans to low intakes of these elements,* the following speculations have been presented: …* 2) Silicon is necessary for the association between cells and one or more macromolecules such as osteonectin, which affects cartilage composition and ultimately cartilage calcification. 3… If any of these speculations are found to be true, the element involved will be firmly established as having a nutritional requirement because the body obviously cannot synthesize it. Based on animal findings, the dietary requirement is likely to be small; that is, expressed in micrograms per day. " (italics mine)

"Background: Increasing evidence suggests that silicon is important in bone formation. The main source of silicon for humans is the diet, but the bioavailability of silicon from solid foods is not well understood.

Objective: We estimated the dietary intake of silicon by adults, separately for men and women and for different age groups. Foods that were major contributors to silicon intake were identified. We then estimated the gastrointestinal uptake of silicon from major food sources and studied how uptake correlated with the silicon contents of the foods.

Results: Mean silicon intakes in men (30 and 33 mg/d in the original Framingham and Framingham Offspring cohorts, respectively) were significantly higher than those in women (24 and 25 mg/d in the 2 cohorts, respectively; P = 0.0001). Silicon intake decreased with age (P < 0.001, adjusted for sex). The major food sources were beer and bananas in men and bananas and string beans in women. Silicon was readily available from foods; a mean of 41% of the ingested silicon was excreted in urine. The silicon content of the foods consumed was significantly correlated with urinary silicon excretion (P = 0.019).

Conclusions: Solid foods are a major source of available silicon. The association between dietary silicon intake and bone health should now be investigated. "

Not that a extra bannana a day would be a bad idea.

Screw the bananas. One more excuse to drink beer!

“but honey, I haven’t had my daily silicon supplement today!”

Good point. Hell, you can almost survive on Guiness anyway.


I mix those two up easily. Thanks. Figured someone might be lurking in the thread and I wanted to get that part cleared up, since it’s the only part of the site (admittedly, I skimmed) that didn’t jump out at me immediately as being natural!! safe!! it’ll make your coat shiny!! and clear out bad fats from your blood!! and get rid of acne!!

Devil’s advocate: wouldn’t intestinal parasites such as those vague and unnamed “worms” the wolf site is going on about have to have some sort of tough outer coating, at least, to survive life in a mammalian digestive tract?

(Sorry to keep flogging another woo thread. I like to know the gritty details and this seemed like the right place to learn. Next time this comes up in a conversation for me I might not have such a resource handy, and I do know a few people who fall for whatever the latest supplement craze has become.)

How about silicone? How much silicone does a body need? I hear that in Southern California, the amount per capita is much higher than in other areas of the country.

Not to mention you get plenty of silica from ordinary plant foods, as it’s a common component of vegetables and so forth. So eat your vegetables just like mama told you to.

Nah, pinworms are squishy, but their eggs survive the trip through the stomach and hatch in the intestine.

If you’re insinuating that I, the TC, “fell” for anything, then I’m sorry to have given that impression. I’m fully aware of the far-fetched nature of the claims behind DE, and of the laughable web design in the link I posted, but it is always possible that I missed something in my search for any scientific backing.

I came across this stuff when a bunch of friends gave me wild anecdotes related to it, such as weight loss, lighter periods, improved sleep, etc. No one seems to have found any experimental evidence to support these claims, so I’m still not convinced.