What Is Diatomaceous Earth?


By  Dr. Edward F. Group

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

Diatomaceous earth (also called diatomite) is an off-white sedimentary rock that has been granulated into a chalky powder-like substance akin to talcum powder.

It derives from fossilized remains of something called diatoms, which are a type of prehistoric tough-shelled, single-celled organisms similar to algae. These diatoms are ocean based and, over the span of 50 million years, came to be embedded into the Earth’s crust. The fossil shape of diatoms is uniquely characterized by the diatoms’ symmetrical or twin-shell structure.

Fun Fact: Diatomite was first discovered around 1837 in Northern Germany, and many interesting applications for the product began to be conceived. Alfred Nobel, the inspiration for the Nobel Prize, used the chemical properties of diatomaceous earth to invent dynamite.

Diatomaceous Earth: Basic Facts

Deposits of diatomite are found throughout diverse regions of the world, typically in lakes and marine areas. There are generally five common varieties of diatomite sourced throughout the world today: Tripolite (from Tripoli, Libya), Bann (from Lower Bann Valley, Ireland), Moller (from Denmark), freshwater lake regions, and saltwater.

Interestingly, each geographically-diverse deposit of diatomaceous earth has a different shape and structure due to the varying amounts and types of other minerals and clays in the surrounding earth composition. The silica content can vary within different deposits depending on age. There are even different species of diatomaceous earth which are also determined by the diatoms’ age and historic environment. The species ultimately determines the shape and structure.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

There exist two forms of diatomite in use today: food-grade (unheated/unadulterated) and industrial grade (heated). Food-grade diatomaceous earth is naturally dried (termed ‘uncalcined’) and has different properties and structure than industrial-grade diatomite. The heating of the diatomaceous earth for industrial use changes the structure from amorphous (unstructured, free-flowing) characteristics to a crystallized, structured form (calcined).

The overwhelming majority of diatomaceous earth is used in industrial applications, such as:

  • Insecticide and commercial pesticide
  • Filtration medium in water systems, swimming pools, and food
  • Mild abrasive use in hygiene products such as toothpaste and facial washes
  • Absorbent use such as in toxic liquid spills, cat litter, and ethylene gas
  • Preservative
  • Use in DNA processing and purification
  • Hydroponic garden growing medium
  • Anti-caking agent in grain storage and livestock dewormer

Though the majority of diatomaceous applications are industrial in scope, an increasing area of interest for its use lie in human and animal applications, particularly for its exciting benefit as a safe and effective anti-parasitic. Data suggests that food-grade diatomaceous earth contains nutritive properties, owing its rich mineral content–silica, in particular–to skeletal health and metabolism support.

Up to one-third of diatomite’s natural silica content is rendered bioavailable for the nutritive trace mineral silicon, among other trace minerals including boron, manganese, and copper. Additionally, diatomite contains a rich electrolyte mineral content consisting of up to 19% calcium, 5% sodium, and 3% magnesium, depending on deposit variables.

Alternative Health Properties of Diatomaceous Earth

Food grade diatomaceous earth offers important benefits, particularly related to the fact that it is composed of approximately 85% amorphous silica. In the past, humans were able to consume enough silica in food, but as modern hybrid foods and toxic soil became a reality, studies suggest that only about 1/3 of the silica that we need is present in our fruits and vegetables. This is a sad fact, given that silica is such a necessary component for the health of our tendons, cartilage, blood vessels, and bones. It is also needed for the health and strength of our skin, teeth and nails. It even contributes to the health of almost all of our vital organs, including the heart, liver and lungs.

A strong abrasive, Diatomaceous Earth is composed of a unique combination of 33% silicon, 19% calcium, 5% sodium, 3% magnesium and 2% iron, as well fifteen other trace minerals like boron, manganese, titanium, copper and zirconium.

Silica is an important trace mineral for human beings, and one that many are unaware that they need. Dr. Barbara Hendel, author of “Water & Salt” has even stated that, “Silica is the most important trace mineral for human health.”

The oldest use of diatomaceous earth has been as a toothpaste and facial scrub, due to its mild abrasive capacities. Similarly, it acts as a mild abrasive in animals, removing intestinal invaders and other harmful organisms from the digestive tract, stimulating digestion and absorption of nutrients by sweeping foreign bodies out of the system. Diatomaceous Earth is also chocked-full of naturally occurring trace minerals. These minerals promote strong nails, healthy skin and shinier hair in animal use.

Other Heath Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth:

  • Increases mineral absorption: As silica is water-soluble and does not remain in the body for very long, supplementing with diatomaceous earth aids the body in keeping optimal absorption of these important minerals.
  • May aid in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • May contribute to more regular bowel movements, as it acts as an internal cleansing aid.
  • Used in livestock feed to control intestinal parasites, which are lacerated by the abrasiveness of diatomaceous earth. It has also shown great success in ridding animals of E.coli, as well as other forms of bacteria and viruses.
  • Contains anti-fungal properties.
  • Acts as a powerful overall detoxification agent — A strong natural bonding agent, diatomaceous earth sucks heavy metals (such as those contained in vaccines, drinking water and foods.

Other Interesting Info and Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is often used as a natural insecticide, as its absorption properties actually dehydrate the waxy outer layer off of the insects’ exoskeleton, causing them to expire. Food and medical-grade diatomaceous earth is also used as a safe and non-toxic way to de-worm pets, and it has even been used as a natural form of cat litter. The U.S. Centers for Disease control recommends it as a natural method for neutralizing toxic spills. It is also a common ingredient in oil-absorbing natural facial products and masks.

Do you use diatomaceous earth? What do you use it for? Please let us know your experiences in the comments!

Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

Article references:

Previous articles by Dr. Group:

About the author:

dr edward group iii 240x300 B 12: The Miracle VitaminDr. Edward F. Group III (DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM) founded  Global Healing Center  in 1998 and is currently the Chief Executive Officer. Heading up the research and development team, Dr. Group assumes a hands-on approach in producing new and advanced degenerative disease products and information.

Dr. Group has studied natural healing methods for over 20 years and now teaches individuals and practitioners all around the world. He no longer sees patients but solely concentrates on spreading the word of health and wellness to the global community. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center, Inc. has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the internet.

For more information, please visit  Global Healing Center.

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  • Gray Davies

    My daughter suffered with Rope Worm for 15 years of which no doctor or specialist could identify let alone treat. I put her on an equal mixture of diatomaceous earth and zeolite. It took just two weeks before this condition started to subside and has now been on this mixture for nearly six months and trouble free.

    • Roger Brown

      It knocks them off the walls of your stomach and linings. as it flows around inside .

  • Name (required)Caitlin

    I have been adding diatomaceous earth to my smooties for months and have noticed how much stronger my nails are. My gums are also bleeding less and my cholesterol levels have dropped

  • Halina

    Where can I obtain Diatomaceous Earth from?

  • Nancy Taylor

    Thanks for your article. I really enjoyed it as it confirms what I have been learning. Silicea aka homeopathy aka cell salts…. ; ) Silicea/Silica is cell salt #12. Hyland’s Bioplasma is a great combo of all needed cell salts – in a sense – they are the precursor to vitamins. The world is just now discovering their health benefits which was originally “discovered” in the late 1800s. Of course, the medical world likes to scoff at homeopathy/cell salts, but the funny thing is that they have no problem prescribing them if has a drug company’s name is on them so their millions can be made. ; ) Instead of a fluoride treatment, one dentist gave me the “newest” thing, Calcium phosphate – LOL – aka cell salt #2. When I was having problems with joint pain, a doctor gave me a sample of another “new” thing – Calcium Sulphate – again LOL – cell salt #3. A friend had a growth on their skin that wouldn’t go away – they started taking cell salts and it is going away – Silica is good for skin conditions. ; ) Please check out cell salts as they contain the majority of essential nutrients needed by the human body, plus you can treat specific issues easily. Of course a good detox would be a huge help, too! Happy health to all! ; )

  • Zvonko

    I have Diatomaceous Earth in a mines very close. How can I know if it is food-grade? And if it is not, is there a method how to make it food-grade? If anybody finds me way how to do it I will send you for free. Please answer. Thank you.

  • Kim

    Awesome article. My husband and I discovered Diatomaceous Earth several years ago. We began using it along with psyllium husk as an extremely effective colon cleanser. I have mixed it with neem leaf powder and yarrow powder to make an all natural flea powder for my kitties. Lastly, we have used it in our organic garden to kill the green little nasty wormy things that those hateful white butterflies lay on our leafy vegetables.
    Diatomaceous Earth rocks–I cannot recommend it highly enough.
    In regards to Zvonko’s question of making non-food grade into food grade–I don’t think it’s possible because according to this article it’s heated up to make the non-food grade (industrial).

  • Ellen

    I was told to be very careful not to breathe in DE. Especially because I have a lung condition.

  • Ellen

    I was told to be very careful not to breathe in DE. Especially because I have a lung condition.

  • Matthew Norrish

    I’ve been taking D.E. for a few weeks now, about a tablespoon a day, and it seems to be helping the hair to regrow on my head… after 6 months I think I’ll know for sure! I got it here: http://www.organicanimalfeeds.ie/cgi-sys/suspendedpage.cgi

  • Matthew Norrish

    I’ve been taking D.E. for a few weeks now, about a tablespoon a day, and it seems to be helping the hair to regrow on my head… after 6 months I think I’ll know for sure! I got it here: http://www.organicanimalfeeds.ie/cgi-sys/suspendedpage.cgi

  • Roger Brown

    1 tablespoon in water per day . Stir and drink . My dog has 1 also a day sprinkled over her food .