Many people take a diatomaceous earth supplement to cleanse and detox their bodies with an organic plant insecticide.
Yes, diatomaceous earth can do all this and more.
If you can work yourself up to downing a dusty gray powder, this supplement could be a game-changer.
Here’s the best selection of what’s on the market right now.
1. SilaLive Silica Supplement
SilaLive is one of the few diatomaceous earth products out there that is actually marketed primarily as a supplement. This decision probably has to do with its composition: instead of pure diatomaceous earth, SilaLive offers a combination of “enhanced diatomaceous earth” and orthosilicic acid, another source of silica (the principle constituent of diatomaceous earth). The core question here is: do you believe that SilaLive’s enhanced diatomaceous earth and orthosilicic acid is absorbed better than standard diatomaceous earth? If you do, then it’s a good choice, but if not, go for the bulk food-grade powders that are also on the market.
2. DiatomaceousEarth.com Food Grade
If you want to go big, look no further than DiatomaceousEarth.com’s biggest bulk offering. This hefty ten pound bag offers the best quality diatomaceous earth around. It’s food-grade, American-made, and certified and listed by the Organic Minerals Research Institute. What’s there not to like? The biggest flaw of this product is also ironically its best feature: its size. The massive ten pound bag could be a bit unwieldy if you only need a few teaspoons per day. Still, this is not enough to dethrone DiatomaceousEarth.com from the top position.
3. Harris Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade
Harris Diatomaceous Earth is very solid diatomaceous earth product. As with most bulk food-grade diatomaceous earth supplements, it’s approved for both external and internal use. Harris offers a few perks with its diatomaceous earth supplement. First, ten percent of all of the company’s profits are donated to the local humane society in the company’s hometown. Second, the product is listed and approved by the Organic Minerals Research Institute, an association that approves organic food production materials. This provides an added layer of safety and purity when buying your diatomaceous earth–you aren’t just relying on Harris’ word that their product is pure, clean, and approved for human consumption.
4. Fossil Power Diatomaceous Earth
Fossil Power might be categorized as a “premium” diatomaceous earth supplement. In exchange for the premium look and feel, the company guarantees a high quality product. The two main advantages of Fossil Power are that it is made in the United States, so the diatomaceous earth is locally sourced, and that its contents are listed by the Organic Minerals Research Institute. While this certification is mostly for fertilizers, insecticides and the like (which is yet another use of diatomaceous earth), it does help guarantee there aren’t any chemical contaminants in the mixture, which is important if you’re going to be ingesting this every day.
5. Aspen Naturals Diatomaceous Earth
At a pretty good price and a nice middle-of-the-road package size (three pounds), Aspen Naturals is a great diatomaceous earth product for the casual or regular user. Hardcore enthusiasts will want to go for a bigger true bulk offering, but Aspen Naturals checks all the other boxes. One nice perk about Aspen Naturals is that the actual diatomaceous earth in the supplement is sourced in the United States, so there’s likely more oversight in the mining and manufacturing process.
6. Starwest Botanicals Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Starwest Botanicals makes a simple, straightforward, American-sourced, food-grade diatomaceous earth supplement. There isn’t a whole lot to detract from it, except perhaps the foil bag. It’s a lot easier to make a mess with a foil bag than a plastic tub, and the zipper-seals at the top aren’t always the greatest. Take off a few points for this but otherwise it’s an alright product.
7. Lumino Wellness Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Lumino Wellness markets their diatomaceous earth “for pets and people,” which might indicate that it’s a lower quality multipurpose product, but it is still approved as food grade, meaning it doesn’t have any harmful compounds at levels that could adversely affect your health. It’s a small package, which means it’s great for the occasional user who doesn’t need pounds and pounds of the stuff laying around the house.
8. ToxiClenz Wisdom of the Ages
ToxiClenz makes their diatomaceous earth product specifically for one of the most trendy uses of this jack-of-all-trades compound, which is digestive cleansing. The company highlights the scientific literature on the uses of this food-grade diatomaceous earth, which include absorbing toxic compounds and bacteria inside the body. Now, whether this ability to absorb harmful compounds actually translates into better health is still up in the air, but ToxiClenz is banking on the answer to that question being “yes.” It’d be better if this product was certified by an independent lab, but it’s still not a bad choice. The tub is also nice and small, so it beats out the big, messy bulk bags if you’ve got a small kitchen.
9. Root Naturally Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Root Naturally offers a simple bulk diatomaceous earth supplement that is quite popular. It’s clearly marketed as a feed additive for animals, but that doesn’t stop people from using it as a supplement. And since the product is food-grade, there’s nothing wrong with that. There is nothing particularly exciting about Root Naturally, but there isn’t anything wrong with it either. While it’s not the best option out there, not everyone wants a giant ten-pound bag of diatomaceous earth sitting around your house or apartment, especially if you only use a teaspoon or two per day.
10. Daily Manufacturing Para-Min
Daily Manufacturing takes a very interesting approach to diatomaceous earth. So far, this is one of the very few supplement companies that have actually packaged diatomaceous earth into a capsule-based supplement. Each capsule contains 100 mg of diatomaceous earth, alongside seven other herbal supplement extracts that are thought to be beneficial to your health.
These include black walnut, ginger, cayenne, and wormwood, among others. Whether Para-Min makes sense for you depends entirely on a) whether you want these extra ingredients and b) whether you are okay with only 100 mg of diatomaceous earth per serving. A bulk powder supplement obviously allows for a lot more flexibility in the serving size.
Who should buy diatomaceous earth?
Diatomaceous earth has dozens of uses as a part of your health and home routines, and best of all, it’s all-natural. Diatomaceous earth can be used to kill bedbugs, control pests in your garden, exfoliate your skin, and possibly even taken as a supplement. While there’s not a huge amount of evidence supporting its use as a supplement, food-grade diatomaceous earth has been touted as a detoxifying supplement, as a way to lower blood cholesterol, and as a possible source of silicon to enhance bone strength.
On one hand, diatomaceous earth doesn’t have nearly the strength of evidence behind it that other supplements have for the same purported benefits. For example, when it comes to lowering cholesterol, the evidence supporting supplements like psyllium, berberine, and moringa powder is far stronger than the one uncontrolled study on diatomaceous earth.
Likewise, though silicon may play an important dietary role as a trace element for building stronger bones, there’s far stronger evidence supporting supplements like calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K as first-line treatments for preventing low bone density.
On the other hand, diatomaceous earth is on the United States Food and Drug Administration’s list of “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS ingredients, and it’s regularly used as a binder, stabilizer, or anti-caking agent in a wide variety of supplements and cosmetics.
Because of this, using diatomaceous earth in small amounts as a supplement does not appear to be risky, which might excuse some more adventurous or exploratory uses of food-grade diatomaceous earth as a supplement.
Plus, aside from traditional supplement uses, diatomaceous earth has many more practical applications around the house: the small particles and ultra-dry nature of the powder dries out the bodies of insects, making it an effective way to kill bedbugs and fight off insects and spiders in your garden. It can also be used as a skin exfoliant to scrub away dead skin cells.
So, though it may not be the most proven supplement around, some people may want to have a bag of diatomaceous earth in the pantry for its household uses.
How we ranked
When formulating our diatomaceous earth rankings, we kept in mind the wide variety of potential uses of the product. We only wanted to rank products that were certified as food-grade, as some people will be looking to take diatomaceous earth as a dietary supplement.
So, after aggregating a list of diatomaceous earth products, we eliminated those that were not certified as food-grade. To get such a certification, a product has to pass certain tests for purity to make sure it is free from contaminants like heavy metals or other trace compounds that are toxic or not approved for human consumption.
In almost all cases, powder form diatomaceous earth is superior to diatomaceous earth that is pre-packaged in capsules. Capsule form diatomaceous earth can really just be used as a supplement; you can’t take advantage of its beneficial uses around the house.
There’s a small subset of people who might benefit from capsule-based diatomaceous earth, however, so we considered a small number of capsule based supplements alongside a much greater number of powder form diatomaceous earth products.
Within the powder form diatomaceous earth products, packaging was almost as important as the product itself. Because diatomaceous earth is so finely powdered, it’s easy to make a mess if the package it comes in is not well-sealed, so avoiding this was a priority for us.
We had a strong preference for products that either came in rigid plastic tubs or had high-quality resealable plastic bags. Some lower quality products came in foil bags that tend to make a mess when resealed, so these were penalized in the final rankings, no matter the quality of the diatomaceous earth inside.
Beyond the food grade certification, we rated diatomaceous earth products more highly if they had a certification by an independent lab or organization, such as the Organic Minerals Research Institute. With products that had these sorts of certifications, you can be more confident that you are getting a high-quality diatomaceous earth supplement.
After pooling the scores and sorting the products, we had our final rankings. These are the purest and most versatile diatomaceous earth products on the market right now. Whether you are looking to experiment with diatomaceous earth as a supplement or put it to use around the house, you have plenty of great products to choose from on our list.
Diatomaceous earth is a source of silica. Silica, also known as diatomaceous earth or DE for short, is less well-known but rapidly gaining popularity among the more health-conscious segment of the population.
Currently enjoying a stint as the darling of the health supplement world is diatomaceous earth, which is about 80% to 90% silica. This mineral supplement has a strong following of loyal adherents who profess its powers to do many things, from warding off Alzheimer’s to preventing wrinkles.
Before we get to what it can and can’t do for human health, let’s sort out exactly what this mineral is and where it comes from, so you have an idea of what you’re dealing with if you decide DE is for you.
The “diatom” in the name of this mineral comes from diatoms, which are tiny algae that live in water. You can’t see them because they’re microscopic. When they die and become fossilized, their hard shells make up the bulk of what later becomes diatomaceous earth.
Because the resulting fossilized substance is highly porous, it’s been used for decades in all sorts of industrial applications from pool filters to dynamite. It’s even used as a mild abrasive in toothpaste and facial scrubs. In the food industry³(1) it’s used as an anti-caking agent in things like coffee creamer and seasonings.
A quick internet search will reveal that diatomaceous earth is a naturally-occurring rock dust that typically consists of a combination of these three things: silica (amorphous silicon dioxide), alumina and iron oxide.
The alumina and iron oxide are found in trace amounts…around 3% and 1%, respectively. Various sources say DE also contains any of the following as well: calcium, sodium, magnesium, titanium, boron, manganese, copper, and zirconium.
The reason for the discrepancy is that the chemical composition of diatomaceous earth depends on where it was mined.
Freshwater deposits of Diatomaceous earth in the US are mostly in the western states, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There, ancient lake beds supply a significant amount of DE for industrial and food purposes.
Suffice it to say, when you’re exploring the health benefits of diatomaceous earth, you’re really looking into what silica can do for you. Therefore, many of the scientific studies cited in this article mention silica…amorphous silica, to be exact.
Be careful with powdered diatomaceous earth. As you explore your options and consider whether taking DE is for you, you’re bound to run across some scary government warnings against amorphous silica. That’s because inhaling pure amorphous silica over prolonged periods can lead to respiratory problems. DE contains amorphous silica, but not in the form that’s toxic when breathed. You see, it must be crystallized through the process of calcination in order to become a threat to health.
OHSHA has issued guidelines and warnings on crystalline silica in workplaces where workers are exposed to the dust. It’s those who work in the milling process who are concerned with air quality.
When you purchase food grade DE as a dietary mineral supplement, unless you break open hundreds of capsules per day and snort them, you’re safe.
In fact, since DE has been used in the food industry for decades, we can cite studies dating back to the 1930s documenting the safety of ingesting DE or silicon dioxide as it’s called in the studies.
With that, we can move on to why people choose to ingest DE, and what they say it does for them. Then, we’ll see how that compares to what the science is telling us.
Greater silicon intake is associated with better bone health. Perhaps the most significant and exciting use for DE is in the area of bone health.¹ The National Institutes of Health tell us of research published in a health and aging medical journal showing the effect of silicon on bone health, one of the most crucial aspects of elder care we know of today.
In this study, it’s mentioned that several minerals are important in the diet for preventing osteoporosis, a disease which results in reduced bone mass and/or the body’s difficulty in recovering from fractures. Currently, we know for a fact that Vitamin D and calcium help along these lines. Minerals like magnesium, potassium, and fluoride also contribute to healthy bone mass.
Now, the scientific community is showing interest in the importance of silicon, which happens to be the third most prevalent trace element in the body after zinc and iron.
Doctors used to think that Silicon simply washed away in the urine (refer back to those studies from the 1930s from a few paragraphs ago and you’ll see evidence of this). Starting in the 1970s, however, research showed that silicon deficiencies resulted in health issues, mainly in the areas of connective tissue. Since then, much research has been conducted, the results of which suggest that silicon is important in the diet, specifically for bone health.
One study supports using diatomaceous earth to lower cholesterol. The positive effect of diatomaceous earth on the blood cholesterol of humans has been known for almost twenty years now.4
Dating back to the late 1990s, a study was performed on 19 people who were given diatomaceous earth for 8 weeks. Each of these people had a history of high cholesterol, by the way. After taking 250 mg of DE three times a day, their serum cholesterol was reduced by a significant amount. Even four weeks after they stopped taking the DE, their cholesterol levels remained lower.
But the benefits of DE didn’t stop there. Researchers also found that low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels were reduced (also a good thing). In addition to that, triglycerides were reduced as well (again, that’s good).
If you look around, you’ll see claims of DE acting as a detox agent. This is explained by the fact that the shapes of the molecules are ragged, thereby acting as both scraper and sponge to absorb toxins (or, from the list previously cited…drug residue, pesticide residue, etc.
The shape of diatomaceous earth molecules are indeed jagged, which is where the cleansing theories may originate. The idea is that the jagged edges slash at toxins adhering to internal areas of the gastrointestinal system, and the porous quality of DE absorbs those toxins and carries them out of the body in the urine.
Farmers have been especially interested in using DE’s jagged edges to naturally remove internal parasites from their sheep and goats. Several studies have been carried out, but to no avail: none showed that DE had any beneficial effect in this regard.
The studies also showed no improvement in anemia either. There go a few DE claims.
But we still have better bone health and lower cholesterol levels to attribute to DE, which thankfully is available in supplement form from any drugstore. Just make sure it’s from a quality manufacturer that’s governed by quality standards and preferably in the US. Since there are significant DE deposits in the US, of food grade quality, this shouldn’t be a problem.
And if you’re looking for a new supplement to add to the daily regime, DE isn’t a bad way to go.
Although there are no side effects reported from taking diatomaceous earth, rare irritation can occur in the nasal passages by breathing in the powder.
Also, one needs to be careful on how they use diatomaceous earth. If you look at Amazon reviews, testimonials claim it as an all-around “mineral superpower” that helps lose weight, improve focus, cleanses, detoxes, joint health, anti-aging, etc. Be careful of these claims.
Given that there’s only been one single study on diatomaceous earth (and don’t forget, that study didn’t even use a control group), there’s extremely limited information about what kind of dosage you should use. The study in question used a dose of 250 mg of diatomaceous earth, taken three times per day for eight weeks (5).
However, it’s not at all clear what the justification for this dosage is, nor is it clear what amount of silicon would get absorbed into your body taking this (or any other) dose of diatomaceous earth.
While 250 mg servings a few times a day would be a decent jumping-off point for those who want to experiment with an untested supplement, one study is not much to go off of.
When it comes to using diatomaceous earth around the house, usage rules are a lot looser. For killing bed bugs, spiders, and insects, a light sprinkling on the problem area (such as the edges of your mattress) is usually sufficient.
If you are using diatomaceous earth as an exfoliant, beauty experts recommend making a slurry of about one part diatomaceous earth to three parts water, or, alternatively, four parts diatomaceous earth to one part coconut oil. Once you’ve mixed up the exfoliating mixture, gently rub it onto your face, leave it for a few minutes, and then rinse and buff it off.
The mechanical exfoliating action of the fine particles of diatomaceous earth will help scrub away dead skin cells, revealing newer, healthier skin underneath. You’ll want to follow up exfoliating with a face wash and a face moisturizer for best results.
Q: What is diatomaceous earth?
A: Diatomaceous earth is a soft, powdery substance that is mined out of the ground. It’s a pale white powder that is made up of the fossilized remains of tiny microalgae called diatoms.
The dead skeletons of these algae gradually turn to dust, and the result is a soft, consistently-sized powder that has a large surface area for absorption and a good particle size for exfoliation. In terms of its chemical composition, diatomaceous earth is made up of silicon dioxide, the same thing that’s in glass (though the molecular structure is different).
Q: What is diatomaceous earth used for?
A: Diatomaceous earth is something of a jack of all trades when it comes to natural products. The powder makes a great exfoliant, and its highly absorbent nature makes it well suited for potting certain types of plants, controlling insect pests, and killing bed bugs and spiders.
What’s more, some people believe it can be an effective source of silicon as a supplement, and even use it as part of a detox regimen. While diatomaceous earth is on the Food and Drug Administration’s “generally recognized as safe” ingredient list, it’s important to use only food-grade diatomaceous earth if you plan on consuming it, so you can be more assured that your diatomaceous earth is free of contaminants.
Q: What is food grade diatomaceous earth?
A: “Food grade” is a label that is used to indicate that a product has passed more rigorous purity and safety screenings to make sure it is safe for humans to consume.
Diatomaceous earth is a good example: since it’s mined out of the ground, it’s easily possible that it could contain traces undesirable compounds.
However, if all you were using diatomaceous earth for was killing bed bugs or filtering your swimming pool, you wouldn’t be particularly worried about trace contaminants. Food grade diatomaceous earth is held to a more stringent standard, so you can be sure that the product is safe to consume.
Q: How do you use diatomaceous earth for fleas?
A: There are several popular methods for using diatomaceous earth to treat fleas on pets. All of them involve working the diatomaceous earth into the fur of your pet cat or dog, but they differ in terms of exactly how you go about doing this.
The most simple way to do it is to just dust the powder into your pet’s fur, rubbing it in with your hands. Similarly, some pet owners use a salt shaker to distribute diatomaceous earth more evenly.
Do note that both of these methods might expose you to airborne particles of diatomaceous earth; you should wear a dust mask to protect your lungs. Mixing diatomaceous earth into a slurry with water will eliminate the dust problem, but can be a lot messier.
Q: How does diatomaceous earth work?
A: In terms of its use as a supplement, diatomaceous earth’s mechanism of action is still shrouded in mystery. The use of diatomaceous earth as a supplement can be traced to just two studies: one non-placebo-controlled study that found that taking 250 mg of diatomaceous earth in a capsule three times per day decreased blood cholesterol, while another observational study linked dietary silicon intake to stronger bones.
If diatomaceous earth truly does strengthen bones, the mechanism of action is likely due to providing silicon to the body. However, the silicon dioxide that’s in diatomaceous earth is not well-absorbed, so it’s unclear how much silicon from diatomaceous earth actually makes it into your body. With regards to cholesterol, if diatomaceous earth truly exerts a beneficial effect, there are two possibilities.
The first would be that increased levels of silicon available in the body somehow decrease cholesterol levels. The other possibility would be that the high surface area of the diatomaceous earth powder binds food ingredients in the stomach that would otherwise get absorbed by the digestive system and increased cholesterol.
This might be dietary cholesterol itself, or diatomaceous earth might be acting similar to a carb blocker, preventing the absorption of some macronutrients that contribute to higher blood cholesterol levels.
Q: How long does it take for diatomaceous earth to work in humans?
A: The only experimental study on diatomaceous earth lasted eight weeks, after which the subjects in the study experienced a decrease in their levels of blood cholesterol.
While this timeframe is a good starting point, it’s far from clear that this is the best time duration to expect to start seeing results. The other studies often referenced in support of diatomaceous earth as a supplement are cross-sectional in nature, meaning that they show a correlation between dietary silicon intake and a health outcome (bone regeneration, in this case),
Q: How does diatomaceous earth kill insects and bugs?
A: Diatomaceous earth is thought to kill insects, spiders, and other small pests in one of two ways. One theory states that the tiny sharp edges of diatomaceous earth cut up the exoskeletons of these insects and pests, which eventually kills them.
Another competing theory holds that the highly absorbent nature of diatomaceous earth draws out the moisture from the bodies of the insects, which dries them out and kills them.
Either way, diatomaceous earth works very well as an anti-insect and anti-spider remedy in and around the house. These mechanisms are also thought to be why diatomaceous earth kills fleas and bedbugs as well.
There’s enough evidence to suggest diatomaceous earth does good things for the body. Not satisfied with improved bone health, lower cholesterol or any of the other science-backed benefits of this mineral supplement that are sure to arise soon, they feel the need to proclaim its status as a miracle pill that cures absolutely everything.
As you can see from the studies cited here, there’s a lot going on the field of nutrition research in the medical arena. Diatomaceous earth is promising in several ways. Keep an open mind about taking diatomaceous earth as a dietary supplement, but also remember to keep your eyes open to the facts and not the myths.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 diatomaceous earth recommendation, click here.