Article by Angela Haldane, 23 April 2006

Q. I’m interested in the mineral silica – what effects does it have on the body and what is the best way to get it?

A. In nature, Silicon is found almost exclusively in the form of Silica (as Silicates). Silicates are components of rocks and sand. Silicates are poorly bioavailable to the human body. Silicon is an essential, acidic, non-metallic micromineral. Food sources include barley, oats, millet, potatoes, corn, rye, red beet, whole wheat and onions.

The herb Horsetail – Equisetum-arvense has the highest amount of silica and is often used to make natural silica supplements.

Silica retards the aging process, maintains the elasticity, firmness and strength of the skin and also strengthens connective tissue and joints. Silicon enhances the body's utilisation of calcium into the bones and may facilitate the removal of the arthritic nodules or spurs that occur in conjunction with osteoarthritis. Silicon is useful for the strength of ligaments and may facilitate the recovery of pulled or stiff ligaments.

Silicon is essential for the structural integrity and elasticity of blood vessels. It is useful for conditions where there are weak vessel walls, e.g. haemorrhoids and varicose veins. Silica accelerates the healing process and is useful in gastric ulcers, boils and skin that cracks and splits. It also drives foreign particles to the surface, e.g. splinters. Silica supplementation should be avoided if you have prosthetic implants owing to this property.

Silicon concentrates in the hair and it may promote hair growth. Hair loss may result as a silica deficiency. It also strengthens weak, brittle nails.

I often prescribe Active Elements 2.1 with good results. There is a Mineral Appraisal if you would like to do your personalised mineral assessment.