Silica often receives a bad rap under the context of industrializing bamboo. It occurs in high quantities in the nodes of bamboo culms, and under traditional chemical based pulping technologies, it requires large volumes of lime to be used to remove it, resulting in nasty lime sludge waste streams. In various other manufacturing technologies bamboo silica increases the wear and tear on machinery.
But as this element becomes better known, bamboo's high silica content is slowly seeing a shift in the tides from a negative to having a suite of potential applications, from industries as diverse as health & nutrition, food & beverage, cosmetics.
As we continue to commercialize EcoPlanet Bamboo's large volumes of bamboo leaves, bamboo water and of course bamboo fiber, we are working with a range of partners on the silica specific benefits of these feedstocks. For now, we found this article, taken from Eidon Iconic Minerals particularly illuminating on just how important bamboo's source of readily available silica could be.
Silica: A Little Known Element Comes of Age
Silica’s importance in overall optimal bodily function has been recognized for quite some time. As early as 1878, Louis Pasteur predicted that silica would be found to be an important therapeutic substance for many diseases and would play a significant role in human health and consequently nutrition.
During the 20th century, progress was made by pioneering researchers and scientists such as Carlisle, Butenandt, Iler, Bergna, Kervran, and Schwartz. Edith Carlisle’s work in the 70’s through the 90’s at the UCLA School of Public Health, perhaps more than any other, demonstrated the necessity of having silica in the body for proper growth and development. As a result of her research, we know that silica is absolutely essential for the body to create and maintain collagen. What was dramatically shown through Carlisle’s research was that when silica is withheld from normal nutrition, gross abnormalities develop and normal growth does not take place. While Carlisle’s work was done with chickens and mice, humans have also been experimenting with silica.
Human experimentation has yielded some amazing results. Where animal research showed the absolute necessity of silica for healthy and normal growth maintenance, human research has demonstrated the effects of silica supplementation on a much broader spectrum of maladies from youth through middle and old age.
The necessity of silica for collagen formation and development is the basis of many of these physiological effects. Collagen is the tough fibrous material that holds us together. Many aging problems are a direct result of the body’s inability to maintain adequate collagen. Think for a moment about the following aging problems: joint deterioration, brittle bones, hardening of the arteries, dry skin, inability to digest food properly, weakened teeth and gums, and atrophying organs. They all are collagen related in one form or another. When we are young, Silica levels in our body are high and our bones and joints are flexible. Our skin is supple and glowing. As we age, Silica levels decline and without adequate tissue levels of Silica, we manifest many of the symptoms of aging such as joint disease, weakened digestion, and wrinkled skin, to name a few.
Nutritional and Therapeutic Applications for Silica
Connective tissue strengthening and support (joint, ligaments and muscles)
Bone strengthening and support through enhanced calcium absorption Within bone, silica is the essential component making up the collagen matrix upon which calcium is deposited. This relationship is so fundamental that it is truly impossible to form bone without both calcium and silica. In fact, researchers are exploring the possibility that supplementation of silica, rather than calcium may be what is needed for maintaining strong bones.
Strengthening of teeth and gums
Cardiovascular support: Silica in adequate quantities creates supple arteries and veins and is effective in removing plaque from artery walls. This has actually been known since 1958 when Loeper and Loeper found arteriosclerotic artery walls showed excessively high levels of calcium and lower than normal levels of in silica.
Stomach and digestive disorders : Most disorders of the stomach and digestive tract involve a degradation of the lining in the G.I. tract. Silica is an essential element involved in rebuilding and maintaining these tissues.
Immune system enhancement: Our skin is our first line of defense against naturally occurring bacteria, virus’s, and other pathogens. Silica promotes and maintains healthy skin tissue.
Wound and burn healing: Silica stimulates the rapid re-growth of damaged skin tissue.
Thinning hair, brittle nails, and dry skin. All of these external parts of our body are collagen based.
Aluminum elimination enhancement: Silica has been shown to be a good eliminator of aluminum. Aluminum has been implicated as a cause of Alzheimer’s. While the above areas may seem quite diverse, in actuality they are directly or indirectly related to proper collagen formation. Given that connective tissue is basically collagen, the inability of the body to rebuild this tissue will result in excessive injuries, general deterioration, or excessively long periods of healing time when injuries occur.