Silica dioxide is the dominant element in clays, yet it is the one most overlooked by consumers and others that research clay. Understanding the role of silica explains in some part, how calcium bentonite clay works so magnificently for a multitude of issues. Bentonite clay is a natural source of silica dioxide, which is a catalyst for the proper use of other minerals in the body. This property of the primary element of bentonite clay (silica) is in large part how calcium bentonite clay stimulates the body to heal itself.
Silicon vs. Silica
Silica (SiO2) is the oxide form of silicon (Si) found in nature and is the second most prevalent element in the environment (followed by oxygen). Silicon is classified as a non-metal, but is in a category of eight elements called metalloids. Metalloids are elements that are classified as non-metals but possess *some* properties associated with metals. For example, at high temperatures, silicon conducts electricity – a property of metals. However, at low temperatures, silicon behaves as an insulator. This unique characteristic of silicon could explain some of the ways bentonite clay works in the body. Could this attribute as a conductor be the science behind the reports by some people that drinking clay energizes them? Silicon is found in considerable amounts in bone, blood vessels, cartilage, collagen, tendons, other connective tissue, eyes and nails. It is silicon that gives tissues strength and stability to bones, skin, hair and nails.
Silica– a chemical compound comprised of silicon and oxygen atoms – is by far the most abundant mineral in the earth’s crust. Silica occurs plentifully in nature on Earth. Silica is what makes up the mineral quartz and is the predominant ingredient in glass.
Silica is essential to life, meaning it is required for the body to carry out ongoing metabolic functions. It plays a vital role in absorption of other minerals and is necessary for skeletal development. In addition, silica must be continuously supplied to the body from external sources. Silicon is considered a detoxification mineral due to its ability to penetrate deep into tissues where it assists with the elimination of toxins.
The German biochemist Adolf Butenandt’s work with sex hormones earned him a Nobel Prize in 1939. One of the conclusions his research proved is that life cannot exist without silica. Dr. Butenandt’s work proved that hormonal imbalances in humans are many times the result of a calcium-magnesium imbalance. Further studies have concluded that silica can restore this balance. Silica has also been found to help with the absorption of phosphorous. For these reasons, silica is considered a catalyst for important bodily functions related to other minerals.
Benefits of Silica
Silica is often referred to as the beauty mineral because it can improve the elasticity of the skin, as well as growth and healthiness of the skin and nails. It is also believed to improve bone health and may even prevent certain types of dementia.
Silica and Beautiful Skin
As with other minerals, silica levels in the body decrease with age unless it is supplemented. As we live longer, connective tissues in the body lose their ability to retain moisture and left unattended, degenerate. Collagen – largely comprised of silica -is responsible for helping to retain moisture in connective tissue. In turn, it is the moisture in tissue that keeps it supple and resilient. Supple and resilient skin is often associated with the prevention of premature aging. Topically, silica can be absorbed by the skin. An inexpensive alternative to potions and lotions are clay masks, clay baths and clay body wraps. All of these methods of clay application exposes the tissues beneath the surface of the skin to the silica and other beneficial minerals in bentonite clay.
Silica and Bone Health
Calcium is leached from bones in the body as a result of aging, diet or lifestyle – or a combination thereof. This results in brittle, thin and weak bones – a condition known as osteoporosis. Calcium cannot be assimilated by the body without the presence of silica. This means that taking a calcium-only supplement will neither reverse nor arrest osteoporosis. Silica can stop the pain associated with osteoporosis as well as repair the body’s own self-repairing process. Bones are primarily made up of calcium, magnesium and phosphorous in addition to silica. The role of silica in this case is to enable the deposit of other minerals into the bones – in particular calcium. Silica is actually a transport agent that is responsible for the absorption of calcium, magnesium, boron and iron by the bones.
For those that have suffered a bone fracture, silica can accelerate the healing process and reduces scarring. “Silicon supplementation increases the collagen in growing bone by 100%.” Since silica helps collagen keep it’s elasticity in connective tissues, it can also relieve associated aches and pains. It may also help keep the body limber.
Silica and Healthy Hair
A major component of hair is silica. By way of comparison, bone has 100 micrograms of silica per gram. Hair contains 90 micrograms of silica per gram (of hair). Silica revitalizes and stimulates hair growth. It also is reported to prevent balding and add strength, shine and luster to hair.
Silica and a Killer Smile
Silica helps harden tooth enamel and thereby can prevent cavities. It also hinders receding gums and gum atrophy and can prevent bleeding gums. Keeping gums healthy is important in order to prevent loosening of and eventual loss of teeth. Everyone looks better with teeth, than without!
Silica and Brain Health
Research shows that the accumulation of aluminum in the tissues of the body is directly linked to the onset of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. Silica – the predominant element in bentonite clay – helps to remove heavy metals from the body. Moreover, there is evidence that shows that a deficiency of silica can cause aluminum to accumulate in the tissues of the body, including the brain.
Sources of Silica
Silica dioxide is the dominant element in calcium bentonite clay. Certain plants are also an excellent source of this essential mineral. However, modern food production does not guarantee nutrient-rich produce. Ideally, plants that are grown and eaten by either people or animals are grown in nutrient-rich soil. However, commercial agriculture methods deplete the soil of these needed nutrients. In turn the plants harvested from deficient soil are themselves lacking in essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Read more about the importance of minerals to good health here.
Silicon is among the elements missing from many commercially-farmed foods. Silicon is also destroyed during the processing of food. Eating organic, non-GMO foods are one way to improve the amount of silicon in the diet. Silica is found in the hulls of oats, rice and wheat. Other foods that contain silicon are bamboo shoots, alfalfa, avocados, bell peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, strawberries and tomatoes. Of course, leafy green vegetables contain silica along with many other minerals and important micronutrients. Herbs that contain silica are nettles, horsetail, raw cacao and oat straw.
Silica has many anti-aging and other health-related benefits. Silica permits the uptake of important minerals by bones including calcium, magnesium, boron and iron. Silica is critical for healthy collagen, the protein responsible for the basic structure of the skin. It is the substance that holds the entire body together. Fortunately, silica can be found in a natural state in calcium bentonite clay, many fruits and vegetables as well as certain herbs. Read more about how bentonite clay can halt some of the signs of aging here.
Rare Earths, Forbidden Cures, Dr. Joel D. Wallach, Dr. Ma Lan, Double Happiness Publishing, 1994, Bonita, CA