Dirty Benefits: Diatomaceous Earth

When we think of something as “dirty,” we often think it’s something that needs to be sanitized, sterilized and washed clean.

Our “culture of clean,” complete with an unlimited supply of antibiotic soaps, gels and hand wipes, is new to our bodies and our microbiome.

What is our microbiome? It’s all of the symbiotic organisms that live on and in our bodies that keep us healthy. That’s right: our bodies are host to trillions of bacteria, both “good” and “bad.”

I’ve seen estimates that indicate: by mass,
our bodies are
made up of up to 90% bacteria!

That gives me a different perspective on germs, dirt and what it means to be “dirty.” It makes me think that maybe dirt isn’t the enemy we’ve always thought it was, and that being “squeaky clean” is not all it’s cut out to be.

In this series on dirt, I’m partnering with Deep South Crunchy Mom and Clean Living with Kids to talk about different types of dirt that are actually really good for us!

Bentonite Clay, Activated Charcoal and Diatomaceous Earth are three of the many beneficial forms of “dirt” that can contribute to our health and well-being. We’re going to talk about how we use them and how they’ve helped us.

The best thing about each of these “dirts” is that they are very affordable,  incredibly powerful and effective for so many things!

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

From Wikipedia, Diatomaceous Earth is “a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. It has a particle size ranging from less than 3 μm to more than 1 mm, but typically 10 to 200 μm.”

Why do we care about diatomaceous earth and how can we use it?

Diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of diatoms, which are a type of unicellular micro-algae that are crucial to the Earth’s atmosphere. It is estimated that diatoms produce 20% of the world’s oxygen and that the shells of dead diatoms can be found half a mile deep at the bottom of the ocean!

How is Diatomaceous Earth Used?

Diatomaceous earth can be found in many of the products we use every day. Since it is a mild abrasive, it can be found in polishes, toothpastes and as a filler in cat litter for its odor and liquid-absorbing properties. It is also used in filtration products and insecticides, as well as a filler, absorbing agent and even an activator in blood clotting studies! I’ve even seen it used as a filler in foods such as commercial breads.

Commercially, diatomaceous earth has a lot of applications.
But personal use is where it gets really interesting.

I first learned about diatomaceous earth when I was researching parasites in the body and how to kill them.

A parasite is any organism that lives inside of and benefits
from another organism while causing the host harm.

Often we think of parasites as only something people in third world countries have to deal with. After all, we wear shoes and we don’t eat contaminated food, so we should be clean, right?


Everyone has parasites (we get them through food and water–they are impossible to avoid), and traditionally it was known that people needed to do some kind of parasite cleanse at least once a year to keep them in check.

These days we don’t even think about parasites, or even admit that we have them.

Unfortunately, when unchecked,
parasites can cause all kinds of health issues.

In fact, if you have any of the following health issues, parasites could be to blame:

  • Digestive problems
  • Bloating
  • Stomach pain
  • Headaches or Migraines
  • Rashes (including eczema and psoriasis)
  • Anal itching
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Allergies
  • Poor concentration or lack of focus
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Stubborn belly fat
  • Post nasal drip
  • Anxiety
  • Grinding your teeth at night
  • Sleep problems
  • Muscle pain, cramps or unexplained soreness
  • Irritability
  • And many more!

As you can see, parasites can cause a lot of different health problems.

If you’ve never done a parasite cleanse and you suffer from any of these issues, it’s very likely that parasites are to blame.

We won’t get into the different types of parasites we host, but you can learn more about that here.

Here’s where diatomaceous earth comes in very handy.

Diatomaceous earth particles are tiny: if you buy a bag you’ll notice it’s like a bag of dust (don’t breathe it!). These particles are also sharp, and have a cage-like structure. This allows diatomaceous earth to do several things when we consume it:

  • The abrasive nature makes it a great “scrubbing agent” for the intestinal walls. Over time, mucus builds up there and can make us sick, so periodically cleaning out this mucus is vital to good health.
  • The sharp edges physically cut any larger intestinal worms that are present, eventually killing them and allowing them to be expelled by the body
  • The cage-like structure works to trap smaller bacteria and toxins within it, to be flushed out by the body.

Diatomaceous earth makes for a very effective (and very affordable) parasite cleanse that is really easy to do.

So let’s get to work! First step, buy food-grade diatomaceous earth

I have been following a 90-day protocol that calls for diatomaceous earth to be taken once a day first thing in the morning, at least an hour before eating anything.


Here’s what I do: 

  1. Mix one heaping teaspoonful into a glass of water (don’t breathe it!).
  2. Drink the water (it tastes a little chalky, but there is no real flavor, good or bad)
  3. Drink plenty of water after that, and wait an hour before eating.
  4. Do this every morning for 10 days in a row, then take the rest of the month off.
  5. The following 2 months, do the same thing: 10 days on, 20 days off.When I first did this I took it more than 10 days (approximately 3 weeks of taking it every day in the morning) and I got a really bad sinus infection, which I think was due to detoxing “too much” or possibly the mucus being washed away just overloaded my body. Either way, from now on I’ll take the assigned breaks so that doesn’t happen again.

Herxheimer Reaction

If you’ve never done a parasite cleanse before, start slow.

Take a quarter or half a teaspoon the first day and work your way up. If you begin get a bad reaction: headaches, nausea or some other discomfort, you may be experiencing a Herxheimer Reaction.

If you do experience this, simply back off: lower the dose until the symptoms subside, and then work your way back up to a higher dose.

The most important thing to remember is that if you get a bad reaction, that means it’s working. It also means you have a lot of things to clean up (which you may already suspect) so quitting will not benefit you. Any short-term discomfort will be well worth the health you experience after the cleanse. 

To lessen or prevent a herxheimer reaction, I recommend using Bentonite Clay.

(Learn more about the benefits of bentonite clay here).

To prevent a herxheimer reaction, I take one teaspoon Redmond Clay in a glass of water (give it a couple minutes to sink to the bottom of the cup, then stir and drink it fast) before I go to bed at night. This will help clean up any toxins that the parasites are excreting when they are being killed by the diatomaceous earth (they get mad when they are dying)! 

Other Benefits of Consuming Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth contains elements that benefit us in so many more ways than just killing intestinal parasites! It contains a high concentration of silica (in fact, diatom cell walls are actually composed of biogenic silica). Silica is a powerful detoxifier, and can help the body:

  • Clean the blood
  • Improve heart health!
  • Neutralize free radicals
  • Supplement calcium, sodium, magnesium, iron, and other trace minerals
  • Kill viruses
  • Detox heavy metals such as aluminum
  • Prevent osteoporosis
  • Keep joints, tendons and ligaments healthy and pain-free
  • Grow hair faster and longer
  • Protect skin, teeth and nails
  • Maintain anti-aging benefits
  • Improve digestion
  • Improve liver and colon function
  • Improved energy
  • Improved immune function (get sick less often)!

Even if you don’t think you have any parasites (trust me, you do), there are plenty of reasons to consume diatomaceous earth on a regular basis! 

But wait…there’s more!

Diatomaceous earth has even MORE benefits and uses than we’ve already described. So why isn’t everyone talking about it and using it every day?

It’s cheap, effective and easy to use–so get some today!

Other Great Uses for Diatomaceous Earth

  • Dust your pets with it to keep fleas away
  • Use it in your garden as a fertilizer
  • Use it to purify drinking water
  • Put it in your detox bath to purify the water
  • Put in pet food to kill parasites
  • A non-toxic insecticide
  • Put a thin line of diatomaceous earth around the outside of windows and doorways to prevent insects from coming in the house
  • In homemade toothpaste as a mild abrasive
  • As a facial exfoliator


You may have noticed in a few places in this post that I warned to always be careful not to inhale diatomaceous earth.
Here’s why: The fine particles are very sharp and dust-like, so they become airborne easily, and if breathed into the lungs can cause damage. So just be careful not to breathe it–and don’t dust it in places where pets or babies will be sniffing around.

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14 Replies to “Dirty Benefits: Diatomaceous Earth”

  1. You recommend taking (i.e. to drink) Redmond Bentonite Clay for Herxheimer Reaction. But I read somewhere that Bentonite Clay is not to be taken and the photo you show of the Redmond Bentonite Clay has a printed line “Powerful Facial Mask” on its label.

    So, is it safe to drink “facial mask” material?

    1. It’s up to you. It’s a good binder and people have been using it internally for thousands of years. I drink it and it has helped with numerous stomach complaints and other issues. The label doesn’t always tell the whole story. Feel free to do your own research and act accordingly. Activated charcoal is also a great binder for herx and i generally recommend that first.

      1. I would like starting a parasite cleansing but very afraid of the herx reactions.I ‘ve never done one and very new to this.
        I see you reccomend the Redmond Bentonite Clay but I read is a facial mask. I see so many parasite cleansings , yours is very simple as compared to so many that requires a very strict protocol.
        I really need help, suffering from digestive issues(GERD) , insomnia. Is it safe for me?

        1. Hi Carmen–apologies for the delay–i just saw this comment. I am happy to discuss any questions you have about the parasite cleanses–you’ve seen the 3 steps i outline in the other articles, right? As well as the step by step guide for doing it the first time? If you are not already in the parasite group on facebook i’d encourage you to join so you can see others’ experiences and ease your mind. The first time one is very gentle and will ease you into the process and give you a good baseline for how your body will respond–and it’s also very effective. Digestive issues are the main symptoms of parasites, so i definitely think it’s an approach worth taking for you, as we all have them and from the research i’ve done, they seem to be causing the majority of our problems. Here is the group if you would like to join, and definitely check out the other articles i mentioned (you can see them in the recent article listings) as well. Feel free to reach out if you have questions or want to discuss–i know it can be overwhelming at first! I truly believe we can all heal–we just have to start somewhere! https://www.facebook.com/groups/1508233639357720

  2. Hi, this might be a silly question, but can we take this in warm drinks.. say in a coffee or better yet, I am wanting to use it on my children, one still has a bottle.. can this be put in a warm bottle or formula? Or do I have to put it in water ?
    My children are 10m and 4.

  3. Hi. Thanks for the post. I’m wondering, if we’re taking de foeever, are we to use his protocol or similar protocol forever? In other words once we’ve successfully cleansed our bodies , or did initial detox, what is a recommended “maintenance” daily dosage or intake ?

    1. Hi Chris! I would not recommend taking DE as a daily supplement forever…

      After doing the 90 day protocol (10 days on, 20 days off for 3 months in a row) you could take it occasionally or as a periodic cleanse.

      One time i took it for 3 weeks straight and i got sick. It was probably a detox (it triggered a bad sinus infection). So i wouldn’t say it’s detrimental to take it long term, but I would probably not do it every day ongoing.

      People take it in different ways as well, and it’s definitely something good to take as part of your regular detox arsenal.

      Another option would be to take it for a few days around the full moon every month, which is when parasites are most active and weakest in our guts.

      With parasites, the best thing is to keep them guessing. They adapt pretty quickly to whatever we do, so it’s better to switch it up a lot so they don’t learn to avoid our strategies. I hope that helps!

      Additionally, check out my article on parasites here:


      Have a great day!

    1. Thank you for that reminder Jodie! Yes that’s true and definitely something to keep in mind especially if we are using it outside as a pest control. I think the best way is to put a bit of DE around entrances and windows to avoid pests coming in, being careful to avoid plants and flowers that the bees might pollinate.

    1. Yes, there is no problem doing that. I would encourage you to read my blog post about coffee as well because the type of coffee you choose to drink has a big impact on our health as well! I am obviously not one who thinks that coffee has to be eliminated completely to be healthy, but we do need to be very careful which coffee we drink!

      This is the link to that post:


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