You’ve probably seen them displayed in the local jewelry store window. Or maybe you noticed a strand glistening upon a lady's neck at a fancy dinner. What am I talking about? Pearls! You may be wondering what pearl has to do with your health. Well, it's more than meets the eye.
While pearl powder is a recent superfood subject for scientists and lay people alike, it's been the beauty food of the ages. Ancient old is new again! This superfood of historical value benefits the whole being.
Let’s find out together about this amazing hidden sea treasure.
Inside An Oyster Is A Pearl Of Great Price.
Not to be confused with Mother of Pearl (Concha Margaritaferae), the pearl (Margarita) is the prize inside a mollusk or oyster. The glossy inner shell lining is the MOP, otherwise known as nacre, which gives “birth,” if you will, to the pearl itself, although it too has health benefits. (1)
The process of developing pearls underwater starts, oddly enough, by an ocean-floor irritant of some kind (e.g., sand). When sand enters the inner shell lining, the oyster reacts to protect itself. There, a luminescent bead will envelope the irritant and continue to build upon itself for months and even years on end, eventually forming the precious treasure. (2)
Pearls come from freshwater streams, rivers, ponds and lakes, or saltwater oceans and bays. The oysters or mussels themselves are stationary and rely upon the purity of the water they inhabit. So keep in mind that the best pearl sources are always the clean ones. (3)
The pearls are then boiled to sterilize them, destroying any pathogens. Last, they go through "levigation," a fine water-grinding process that helps to liberate the many nutrients within its sturdy matrix. (4)
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Pearls and Ancient Beauty
Pearls are closely related to us since the times of antiquity, now hailed as the “Queen of all beauty herbals”. To find this anti-aging, fountain of youth we need to look deeper, much deeper, down into the bottom of the ocean. It’s said to symbolize the understanding gained through experience, and the purity, generosity, and integrity, of the wearer. (5)
But don’t take that too far because beauty can be deceiving. As early as 320 A.D. pearl has played an intricate role in medicinal practice within the Chinese culture. The only female empress in Chinese history, Wu Zetian, utilized the amazing properties of pearl daily both internally and externally for its beautifying effects in the 7th century Zhou dynasty. In fact, at age 65 her esthetic beauty was so renowned that she was hailed as retaining the look of a young woman. (6)
Not bad for a senior! Pearl was so revered in that culture that it was known as the elite natural medicine for the promotion of radiant youth. (7)
As a premier shen or mind tonic, it has oceanic adaptogen properties to stabilize and calm the mood. That makes this an excellent go-to for those needing to address stress or anxiety related health issues like sleeplessness and nervous tension.
In Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Pearl Calcium, or Mukta (Moti) Pishti, is mixed with rose water. This combination may reduce inflammation in the body, cool the GI tract, and balance acid secretions. For this reason, they frequently used it to correct aggressive behavior, anger, and irritability. (8)
It also appeared as a potent love ingredient in love potions (tongue and cheek). Even the famed Queen Cleopatra bathed in a mixture of pearl powder, milk, and honey to produce stunning results.
Next up is the color blue. Yes, you heard that right. Inside this hidden gem is a blue-pigmented protein known as conchiolin. This unique and rare compound is what gives a rainbow sheen to the pearl. It also naturally increases the production of collagen formation – the most abundant protein in our body (85%) – working very much like keratin of the epidermis. Thus, it helps the skin and hair stay hydrated, speeds cell turnover, increases circulation, and helps repair damaged cells. (9)
Moreover, conchiolin has been shown to reduce appearance of skin’s pigmentation by inhibiting an enzyme called tyrosinase. This is responsible for melanin production and, thus, can be a natural method to combat dark spots and hyperpigmentation. (10)
In addition, a blue-colored pigment called porphyrin contained in some pearls works in a way similar to chlorophyll and hemoglobin. Research finds it increases the oxygen-holding capacity of cells, demonstrates anti-inflammatory properties, increases libido, and promotes skin tone and elasticity. (11, 12)
It’s been touted since the mid-20th century that "milk does the body good" mainly because of its abundant calcium. Unfortunately, modern food processing methods have ruined this once-healing food. Due to modern mass scale domestication and processing, milk has now become the most common food allergy in infants and young children. (13)
Sadly, calcium supplements may not be much better. Most are derived from chalk. Chalk, having a positive charge, can actually create inflammation in the body. Also, calcium not properly metabolized can build up: calcium deposits can lead to calcification in arteries. (14)
Pearl, on the other hand, as 90% calcium carbonate, is highly digestible and assimilable. In fact, it's twice as effective as conventional calcium tablets with Vitamin D in a double-blind cross over study. (15)
A raw milk protein enzyme, alkaline phosphatase, responsible for biomineralization, is also present in pearl and partly helps explain the high bioavailability of calcium and other minerals. (16)
Since 1990, French scientists have studied the exceptional impact pearl has on humans and animals. When they placed it against bone, connective tissue, and skin, they discovered that pearl had the ability to regenerate stem cells called osteoblasts and fibroblasts! (17) This makes pearl great for bone and skin tissue implants, grafts, and repairs. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Englemen explains:
“Packed with important minerals like magnesium and calcium, pearl supports hydration and skin regeneration, balances oil production, and improves cell turnover [...] improve skin’s appearance by calming redness and minimizing inflammation. Further, crushed pearl gently buffs away dead skin cells and buildup to leave behind more radiant, healthy skin.” (18)
As if that wasn’t enough, pearl also contains signal proteins, specialized messengers in the body that tells the cell to proliferate. These include conchioline, nacrein, mucoperlin, lustrin, and perlucin. What's more, it turns out that researchers from the US, France, China, and Japan discovered the portion of DNA responsible for reproducing these proteins is very similar to our human calcium binding proteins! This means faster vital organ regeneration and restoration of the cells in an efficient manner. (19)