These days, pearls are doing more than making an appearance on the graceful necks of southern belles–they’re also cropping up in supplement stores in the form of pulverized pearl powder. Yes, apparently pearls are edible, and there’s a growing number of wellness gurus who swear by ingesting them.
While eating pearl may seem like the latest “it” thing, pearl supplements actually go back quite aways. Both traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have turned to pearls to treat a slew of maladies ranging from tuberculosis to eye disease to sexual dysfunction. In the 7th century, Empress Wu Zetian even took pearl to enhance her beauty.
Today, pearls are celebrated for their nutritional content—they’re 30-80% calcium, for one. The shimmering gems also a source of magnesium, amino acids, and trace minerals. Fans of pearl claim that it improves skin tone, has an overall calming effect, and banishes hormonal breakouts. (Is this stuff yoga in a jar?!) Pearl is also adored by Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon, and it makes an appearance in the brand’s Beauty Dust.
Like many herbal supplements, however, pearl supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and there’s limited scientific evidence to support their benefits. Furthermore, it’s certainly possible to ingest too much pearl, resulting in fatigue, nausea, and gas. In addition to concerns about pearl’s efficacy and safety, there are also a few environmental issues to consider.
Although the pearl industry ranks fairly low in the lineup of most ecologically damaging gems to harvest or mine, increased demand for pearls raises concerns about worsening ecological impacts, including but not limited to over-harvesting, loss of water quality, and the introduction of disease caused by the seeding process. Moreover, the seeding or cultivating process isn’t particularly humane. It involves the surgical insertion of an irritating agent into the oyster’s tissue, prompting the oyster to form an ulcer (the pearl!). Unfortunately, fewer than half survive the process. I feel unpretty just thinking about it–let alone dusting my smoothie with ulcers—I mean—pearl powder.
Luckily, there are oodles of plant-based options for beauty junkies to get their “pearl effect” fix. As mentioned, the main nutritional perks of pearl include the high calcium content, magnesium, and amino acids. Indeed, all of these elements are beauty nutrients. Let’s take a look at each one.
Calcium. Recently, calcium has been getting attention for its potential ability to boost the metabolism and help the body stave off excess weight gain. If dairy makes you wrinkle your nose (us, too!), turn to these amazing sources of calcium to make sure you’re getting your fill of this bone-strengthening mineral.
Magnesium. This amazing mineral supports hormonal balance and healthy sleep (could there be two more important components of having a healthy glow?!). Unfortunately, modern living and its cocktail of processed foods, modern farming practices, stress, and lack of sleep can prevent us from consuming enough magnesium and fully benefiting from the magnesium we do consume. Thankfully, there’s magnesium salt spray, a highly bioavailable form of magnesium you can spray on your skin once a day or as directed. Read more here.
Amino acids. These protein building blocks are essential to the body’s functioning. Not only do they power our strong muscles, they are also necessary for healthy hair and nails. The good news is that you *can* get all of your protein requirements from a plant-based diet—all while benefiting from the fiber and antioxidant content of produce (talk about beauty multitaskers!). Plus, there are plenty of delicious, high-protein vegan foods to choose from.
Sill feel like you’re missing out on putting magic powder in your açai bowl? Jump on the adaptogen train, and enjoy all of the woo-woo goodness of sprinkling special dust on your snacks (except, of course, adaptogens are actually quite well-studied by the scientific community—woot!).
What elements of your diet give you the “pearl effect?”
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