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This post was originally published in 2014. It has been updated with new information and republished. Thank you to Michelle Clark who provided several links to help provide two sides to this topic. Before you run out and buy diatomaceous earth, please be sure to ask around. When I first learned about DE, I thought it was GREAT and was so excited, however, over the years, I've been warned that it can do more harm than good.
pronunciation lesson: diatomaceous – dia-to-may-shush
I received a couple of containers of diatomaceous earth (food grade) to try. I planned on dusting our dogs because it’s a natural and effective flea killer and repellent, but I had just treated our dogs with a flea treatment.
In a chat with a brand about raw feeding (you know me), the woman I was speaking with told me that she takes diatomaceous earth, a spoonful in her tea or a glass of water or juice. I didn’t know that humans can take it too.
I looked it up. Yep!
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth is created from the fossilized remains of teeny aquatic creators that are called diatoms. Their skeletons are made from silica, which is a natural substance and it accumulates in the sediment of bodies of water.
Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth
- Natural detox
- Natural weight loss supplement
- Strengthens hair, skin, nails, and teeth
- Colon cleanse
- Joint health and tissue regeneration
- Lower high blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol
- Stimulates metabolism
- Reduces and removes age spots
- And on and on and on
As far as I could tell, none of these benefits have been studied extensively and seem to be mostly anecdotal.
How Much Diatomaceous Earth Did I Consume?
I’ve read that some people mix a spoonful in their drink (coffee, tea, juice, etc. ) daily. Some people treat it as a natural detox and take it for 7 to 30 days. How long the detox takes depends on the person. There doesn’t seem to be any hard and fast rules on this that agree – surprise surprise – beyond that diatomaceous earth has amazing health benefits when ingested by humans and animals.
When I tried a DE detox, I started by mixing a spoonful in my morning tea daily, and it didn't take long for me to feel more relaxed, happier, lighter and more energized. And I lost weight (I also reduced my daily caloric intake and increased my exercise). Placebo effect? I don't know.
How Does Diatomaceous Earth Taste?
There is no taste, just a texture. Like dust on your tongue. Have you ever be caught in a breeze of blowing dirt and some got in your mouth? That’s it. It doesn’t dissolve in liquid like sugar, so you have to keep stirring it, or it’ll settle at the bottom.
What are the Side Effects of Diatomaceous Earth
A Warning About Detoxing
When I initially researched using diatomaceous earth, I didn't find any negative side effects online or when speaking to people who take it. When I tried it as a detox, one thing I experienced was the feeling that I was coming down with a cold. I never quite got there, but I would feel light flu or cold symptoms for a couple of hours, and then they’d go away. This happened for two days. It’s part of the detox, and I’ve experienced this in the past with other detox programs.
When it comes to detoxing, I believe that my body will naturally detox, so I didn't keep up with the DE. However, in speaking with friends years after I originally wrote this post, I was told that using DE as a detox isn't to be done over an extended period of time.
Although I had a positive experience using DE as a detox, there are people who say that a DE detox isn't effective because the moment the diatomaceous earth gets wet, it ceases to work. This is why it's not recommended to dust your garden at sunrise – we're advised to wait until the dew evaporates first.
A Warning About Respiratory Health
For dogs, I haven't heard of any side effects when fed to dogs. Some of my friends have used DE successfully to treat worms in kittens and puppies (I can't recall which type). This isn't something I'm recommending nor is this something I've done with my dogs.
For external uses (carpet cleaning, flea killer, pest control), the biggest concern is breathing DE into the lungs. Because this is a drying product (that's how it kills fleas), the warning I most often see is that once breathed into the body, the diatomaceous earth can negatively impact our lungs. I have dusted my dogs with DE as a flea deterrent, but I stay far away from their face. However, this doesn't prevent them (or me) from breathing it into our lungs.
Years ago I used to use [diatomaceous earth] on recommendation by one of my vets. Since then between a lot of really bad experiences and more research I will never use it on or in my pets or myself. I will use it for pest control around my house, yard and my indoor plants only. [DE] is extremely drying and irritating to [my dogs'] skin I’ve had multiple animals react horribly to it. It is also extremely irritating and dangerous if it gets in [our dogs'] eyes or if they inhale it. I have not found a single reliable source of info backing the health claims that are made by ingesting it both for our pets and ourselves. After speaking to a few people whose knowledge and research I highly trust, they have confirmed that it is more dangerous than helpful to ingest it.~ Michelle Clark (a friend experienced in animal nutrition and raw feeding who always has amazing information)
A Warning About Appliances
Another friend warned me that if our dogs shakes their coat after we apply diatomaceous earth, the dust from the DE can get into nearby appliances and ruin them. ” DE has diamond like crystals and it cuts the endoskeleton.” ~ from a friend.
More Reading About Diatomaceous Earth
- Evaluation of diatomaceous earth as an adjunct to sheep parasite control in organic farming – IOWA State University
- Effect of diatomaceous earth as an anthelmintic treatment on internal parasites and feedlot performance of beef steers – Cambridge.org
Both of these studies failed to show that diatomaceous earth is an effective with regard to parasite control. That being said, there are people who swear by it for worming and as a natural flea repellent. On the flipside, I have also spoken to people who didn't see any positive results when using DE. It seems that it depends on the dog and the situation if diatomaceous earth is effective. And with that uncertainty, I stopped using it on my dogs.
Diatomaceous Earth is a Natural Flea Killer
When it comes to fleas, from what I read, the dry (and it has to remain dry) diatomaceous earth sticks to the flea’s endoskeleton and dries them out. You can dust your dogs with them, dust their bedding, or dust the yard. Keep in mind that morning dew renders it ineffective because it has to stay dry – so I doubt that we’ll be doing this unless we hit a dry spell here in the Pacific Northwest.
A holistic vet whom I respect uses diatomaceous earth in the yard, but not on her dogs, because she shared that minimal vaccinations and a raw food diet make dogs less appealing to fleas.
Trying Diatomaceous Earth on My Dogs
After having tried it for a couple of weeks with no ill side effects, I’m going to do the following:
- Each dog will get a sprinkle in their food; I think a spoonful is too much for them, so they’ll share a spoonful
- I will dust each dog after they dry from a bath (I want to try it at least once)
- I will dust their bedding
- I will dust the shaded areas they love on dry days
A warning thanks to Vlad & Barkley's Dee – if you have honey bees that frequent your property, don't sprinkle diatomaceous earth in your yard. We don't want to bring harm to honey bees because they're endangered.
I’m pretty excited about this option and looking forward to seeing how well it works for our family. Have you tried diatomaceous earth?
Thank you to Michelle Clark who provided several links to help provide two sides to this topic. Before you run out and buy diatomaceous earth, please be sure to ask around. When I first learned about DE, I thought it was GREAT and was so excited, however, over the years, I've been warned that it can do more harm than good.