Diatomaceous Earth has been around for centuries. Claims for its benefits include strengthening the immune, promoting cardiac health, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, helping with healing and many more have been bandied about for years. How much of the claims are true and how many are myth? What can it actually be used for with any reliability?
What is diatomaceous earth?
Diatomaceous earth is a light, soft, pale coloured sedimentary rock which is mainly made up silica microfossils from aquatic unicellular algae.
How well does it work?
Food grade diatomaceous earth is not very bio-available. When ingested, research shows that very little is actually absorbed in to the body. Ortho-silicic acid is readily absorbed to provide silicon in the body, unlike DE. It is however a good insecticide which is organic and cannot harm your plants or animals.
Does DE have any other beneficial uses in humans and animals?
When it comes to the vast number of claims made as to the health benefits of eating DE, there is not enough research proving any of these claims. Without actual clinical studies, there are no claims that are based on researched fact. While there may be many benefits, these are as yet unproven.
What are common uses of DE?
DE is safe use as a natural pesticide/insecticide. It kills hard shelled bugs and centipedes. Use on your garden plants to ward off some insects on fruits, flowers and vegetables. Once wet, it becomes deactivated, so you would have to reapply after every rain or watering.
Use DE to help prevent against infestations of bugs in your grains, dried peas, beans, grains and flour. Many companies now add DE to stored feeds to prevent bug infestation as a standard.
It has also shown some benefit in reducing fleas and mites on animals and birds. There is a potential indication that DE can aid in reducing internal parasites, but the research in this area is still lacking.
How safe is Diatomaceous Earth?
Food grade diatomaceous earth is safe for humans, most mammals and fowls in general. If ingested it should not cause any harm. This makes it an ideal pesticide as it removes the pests without risk to other creatures, unlike most chemical pesticides. It works as an ideal natural insecticide of a number of unwanted pests.
You can actually add it in to your stored feeds to work against bugs that may be present in the foods or eggs that may hatch while the food is stored. It also works well as a de-caker for foods as it absorbs moisture well, preventing foods from clumping.
Can you eat it?
Diatomaceous earth does not cause harm if eaten or consumed in water and is considered generally safe. It is perfectly okay for horses, cows, goats, sheep, pigs and chickens as well as cats and dogs.
Can DE cause respiratory problems?
As far as possible, avoid inhaling the dust from DE. If you suffer from asthma or other respiratory issues, you may experience an increase in shortness of breath if you happen to inhale DE. Inhaling the dust from DE over an extended period of time can cause a long-term lung problem (Silicosis).
Can I use DE to dust chickens and geese?
Yes, you can use DE on geese and chickens to reduce the incidence of mites. Use gloves and rub the DE under the wings, on the neck, back, belly and around the vent. Avoid inhaling the dust and prevent the poultry from inhaling the dust as far as possible while you are applying it. Wash your hands and arms afterwards. DE can cause dryness and irritation on the skin if you leave it on, so it is best to remove it after treating your poultry.
Use diatomaceous earth as a natural insecticide and pest preventative which is the best use as determined by actual research on the product. Determining validity of the other claimed health benefits of DE is only possible through further clinical trials and research.