The Health Benefits of Pearl Powder:
Superfood From the Sea
BY JUSTIN FAERMAN
For thousands of years, pearls have been highly sought after for their iridescent beauty and splendor; but few know that they also possess powerful healing and health-boosting properties that create the mirror image of their radiance within the body. While most think of them as jewelry or gemstones, they can also be ground into a fine powder for internal use—a secret long known to the Daoists of ancient China, who prized them for a different reason than their typical ornamental use.
Ancient Health Secret
In nearly every ancient civilization, the benefits of pearl powder were well known. Their use in China of both as a medicine and as a cosmetic, dates back at least to 320 AD where it was sought by emperors and empresses alike. As proclaimed in the medical books of the Ming dynasty, it was used to stimulate new skin growth and healing, release toxins, and remove sun damage and age spots. In India, the powder was also used in Ayurvedic medicine where it was known to increase general strength and health and was frequently an ingredient of love potions. In medieval Europe, the powder was widely perceived to have therapeutic qualities as well. Seventeenth-century German and English works claimed its effectiveness in a wide range of physical and mental conditions, and famed scientist and philosopher Francis Bacon recommended it as a means of prolonging life.
Moving into the 21st century, a slew of researchers from universities around the world have picked up where ancient cultures have left off, putting pearl powder to the test in a number of human and animal studies—and what they have found is not only impressive but proves that it more than lives up to the hype.
The Health Benefits of Pearl Powder
In both human and animal studies, pearl powder has shown promising results in either directly increasing lifespan or stimulating the production of various antioxidants and biochemicals that have a connection to increased longevity and overall health and wellness.
In various studies, fortifying the diets of silkworms, mice, nematodes, and fruit flies with pearl powder significantly increased lifespan, in some cases up to 50% or more. The way it works in animals and humans is complex, and its life-extending properties are believed to be a result of its ability to boost antioxidant levels—in particular, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione—two of the most potent antioxidants in the body. Both of these antioxidants have strong connections to longevity, especially SOD which has been shown to help reverse many diseases, aid DNA protection and repair, and extend lifespan in a number of studies. It also inhibits the MAO-B enzyme, which correlates to measurable life-extending and health-enhancing effects. [1-9]
Various components of the powder also affect DNA and RNA metabolic activities, and thus can support cell renewal and regrowth. More studies are needed, but early human clinical trials show very positive and promising results across the board.
2. Skin Health and Bone Regeneration
Scientists studying the health benefits of pearl powder have found that a special substance it contains—called nacre—is able to cause the regeneration of fibroblasts and osteoblasts, which are essential to the formation of new skin, collagen, and bone tissue. Fibroblasts are “builder stem cells” that abound in the connective tissue that surrounds our muscles, skin, and organs. By enhancing fibroblasts regeneration, pearl nacre in fact can help keep your body in shape and make your muscles and organs strong. Fibroblasts stimulate rapid wound healing and the formation of new skin and collagen cells, which restores a youthful glow to skin, reduces wrinkles, sun damage, and other signs of aging, and causes skin tightening, which reduces sagging and increases suppleness.
Osteoblasts are stem cells responsible for new bone formation and regrowth. In 1992, Museum D’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France studied the osteogenic properties of nacre, which is the exact material that comprises pearl.  During the study, nacre chips were placed on a layer of human osteoblasts. They found that the osteoblasts that were near the nacre chips proliferated, and then attached themselves to the chips. Even more amazing, the osteoblasts formed a complete sequence of new bone in the presence of the nacre. How do we know it was the nacre that caused this? Because only the osteoblasts surrounding the nacre chips induced this type of mineralization. [11-13]
In 2003, the same group of French scientists decided to investigate pearl fillings. They placed pieces of nacre in experimental cavities in the lumbar vertebrae of sheep. They found that the insertion of this nacre induced the production of layers of newly formed bone adjacent to the implanted pearl nacre filling. They also discovered that inserting the nacre caused an increased mineralization of the sheep’s bone, which means that the bone surrounding the cavity actually became stronger. [14-15]
Another one of pearl powders benefits is that it is one of the richest sources of calcium on the planet—up to 80% or more by weight. Not only that, but human and animal studies comparing the bioavailability of pearl to that of other calcium supplements in a human clinical trial show that pearl powder is absorbed twice as efficiently as conventional calcium carbonate supplements (by far the most common form of calcium in dietary supplements). Scientific tests reveal that the calcium and naturally occurring essential trace minerals in pearl have a natural highly aligned micro-crystalline structure that is highly biocompatible with the human body and that helps to stimulate new bone growth, increase mineralization, and increase overall bone density. [10-15]
3. Calming and Relaxing
Perhaps one of the most well-known and sought-after health benefits of pearl powder is for its calming and relaxing properties. It has been used to relieve stress, soothe the nervous system, improve mood, and promote deeper sleep for millennia—and scientists may have discovered why. Aside from the generally calming effects that calcium has in the body, it has been shown to elevate GABA levels in the brain and body. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter that is often deficient in people with anxiety and chronic stress. Researchers also found that pearl powder benefits and stimulates various receptors in the body related to serotonin production in both animals and humans. 
For this reason, many people find pearl powder calming and stabilizing. This was, and still is, one of the main uses for the substance in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, as well as one of its greatest benefits in our modern, fast-paced world.
4. Spiritually Activating Shen Tonic
On this same wavelength, pearl is revered as a legendary shen tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Shen is one of the three “treasures” or energies that permeate the body. Shen means “spirit” or ”god” in Mandarin and is believed to be the energy, or principle, in the body that regulates the mind, emotions, and our connection with higher aspects of ourselves. As a shen tonic, the powder is believed to harmonize and strengthen this energy. As such it has been used as a consciousness-expanding medicine throughout its long, storied history. But just what does that translate to in practical terms? Most will notice it to be emotionally soothing and balancing, with long-term use leading to deep feelings of inner peace and tranquility. Many also report that pearl produces a noticeable mood lift and enhances meditation.  For this reason, it has been revered by Daoists seeking enlightenment and greater spiritual capacity and that tradition continues to this day.
5. Improves Intelligence
Last, but certainly not least, one of pearl powders greatest benefits is that it has been shown to affect the mind and brain in some incredible ways as well. Chinese scientists found that the powder can improve children’s IQ. In one study, more than 200 children with mental disabilities took 750 to 1500 mg of the powder every day, and after three months, 92% of the children showed an increase in IQ of more than 80%, which enhanced it into normal range. 
Another study at China Medical University examined the effect of a pearl powder supplement on mice. They found that mice who had taken it for 12 days did better in maze tests and had stronger immunity than mice who did not. In other words, it made the mice smarter and healthier.
6. Seaborne Superfood: Rich in Health Boosting Nutrients
To top things off, pearl powder supplements are also a rich source of hard-to-get nutrients like calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, along with essential trace minerals such as strontium, copper, selenium, silicon, and titanium. It is also a complete protein, supplying all eight essential amino acids and a handful of more exotic ones including Aspartic Acid, Thronine, Serine, Alanine, Phenylalanine, Arginine, Methionine, Lysine, Glutamic Acid, Glycine, Leucine, Valine, Proline, Tyrosine, Cystine, Histidine, and the calming and relaxing Taurine.
There are other amazing compounds found inside of pearls that are only just beginning to be understood and investigated scientifically, including mucopolysaccharides, which have inflammation-fighting properties and alkaline phosphatase, which is one of the active components in the remineralization of cells and likely has much to do with the extraordinarily high bioavailability of its nutrients.
How to Choose a Quality Supplement
There are a couple of important things to look for in choosing a quality pearl powder supplement to make sure you can benefit from all the nutrients locked away within these tiny but potent gems. The first is that it must be ground into an extremely fine powder so that your body can absorb it in the first place. In order to do this, it must undergo a special type of processing and, as with any type of processing, it should be as minimally invasive as possible and not damage any of the nutrients within the substance at hand. There are three ways to do this safely and effectively: levigation, micronization or nanozation, and enzymatic processing.
Another important thing to understand about pearl is that for medicinal use, non-jewel-grade cultured, pure pearls are used, as it would simply be far too expensive and difficult otherwise. The pearl used in supplements is grown, or rather “seeded” in mussels (freshwater) or oysters (saltwater) and is sustainably farmed and harvested under controlled conditions for human use. There is some debate as to which variety is better; but the truth is they both have nearly identical effects, and it makes little difference so long as one of the above-mentioned proper processing and grinding technique is used.
As with any supplement or natural medicine, it is best to start slowly and work your way up to higher dosages to let your body adjust.
Recommended Pearl Supplements
Micro-Ground Freshwater Pearl
Sun Potion offers an ultra-high-quality, sustainably grown and harvested, freshwater pearl powder that is super micro-ground at low temperatures for maximum bioavailability and absorption. Rich in shen energy, Sun Potion’s pearl powder is contained in special miron glass jars to preseve potency, freshness and the energetic integrity of the medicine.
Pearl Powder Capsules
Dragon Herbs offers a special levigated, freshwater pearl powder in convenient vegetarian capsules. They use high-grade pearl that goes through a unique water extraction to separate inorganic materials from the bioactive medicinal compounds in pearl that yields a highly concentrated and potent pearl supplement.
Enzymatically Activated Pearl Powder
Jing Herbs offers an enzymatically activated, freshwater pearl powder that allows all the amino acids, minerals and nutrients to be readily available for fast assimilation into the body. Packaged in bulk in a convenient resealable bag for long-lasting freshness and quality.
Hydrolyzed Pearl Powder
Hyperion Herbs offers a hydrolyzed, water-soluble pearl powder that is finely ground at low temperatures for high absorbability. Packaged in a convenient resealable pouch, their pearl powder can be easily added to smoothies, teas or drinks for seamless integration into your health routine.
How to Use Pearl Powder
Pearl has a number of beneficial uses:
+ It can be consumed as tonic internally. Simply add the powder to a glass of water or juice to make a refreshing tonic or mix into your favorite smoothie.
+ It can be used topically for its anti-aging and skin-strengthening effects. To use pearl powder on your skin, mix it with a small amount of water or moisturizing lotion and apply topically as needed. Leave on the skin for as long as is comfortable to let it penetrate into it.
Side Effects and Interactions
Pearl has no known side effects taken at normal doses (up to 1g per day) and is extremely safe, but as always, caution is advised when starting a new supplement. Always start slowly and with small doses and work your way up to make sure it is biocompatible with your body.
Recommended Product Disclaimer
The products recommended in this article may have different formulations than the products used in the studies and research cited in this article. As such, they may have different effects than have been reported by these studies. No claim is made or implied whatsoever as to the effects of any recommended products or their effects on health. The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. Any products recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.
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About The Author
Justin Faerman has been studying and writing about holistic health practices, herbalism and natural medicine for over 14 years and is a leading authority on both modern and ancient therapies for creating lasting health and wellness. He has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara and has conducted field research into organic and regenerative agriculture practices and eco-social sustainability during his time there. He is also the Founder of Lotus Superfoods, a boutique purveyor of rare herbs and superfoods as well as the Co-founder of Conscious Lifestyle Magazine and the Flow Consciousness Institute. Learn more about his work at flowconsciousnessinstitute.com and lotussuperfoods.com