Pearl Powder Is The Secret Of People With Plump, Glowing Skin. Here's How To Add It To Your Diet

Photo: Nadine Greeff

I've always been fascinated by the ocean. The sheer blue vastness and dark depths are simultaneously humbling, awe-inspiring, and sacred. With the majority of our planet being underwater, and 95 percent of the oceans being unexplored, there is endless magic to learn from the sea.

As a functional medicine practitioner, I frequently use different natural food medicines found in the ocean.

Equal to my love of marine magic are adaptogens. The adaptogenic kingdom, the diverse array of herbs and other earth medicines that balance our brains, hormones, and inflammation, is one of my favorite tools in my own life and with patients.

So if there is such a thing as an adaptogen of the sea, I'm sure as heck going to nerd out with you and talk about it! My friends, meet pearl, the oceanic adaptogen.

What is pearl powder?

Pearl (yes, the one your grandma wears as a necklace), from fresh and salt waters is the secret of the sea and can be used medicinally. The valued, luminescent beads have been ground into a fine powder and used topically or taken orally like a supplement for generations all over the world. Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, was known to use pearl in her beauty regimen. The royal children of the pre-colonial Philippines were fed pearl powder to keep their skin bright, clear, and firm. Similarly, pearl was used throughout European history among royal and wealthy families for its beauty and health benefits.

But no cultures have used pearl is such a concerted way as the two largest schools in Eastern medicine: traditional Chinese medicine and ayurvedic medicine.

How does pearl play into traditional Chinese medicine?

For centuries, since at least A.D. 320, Pearl has been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Wu Zetian, the only female empress in Chinese history and other royals used pearl for its revered beauty benefits. Skin health was very important in traditional Chinese culture, and pearl was the elite natural medicine to promote radiant youth.

This luminescent powder was not only used directly for skin health but also as a balancing adaptogen. In Chinese medicine, pearl is seen as a potent mind (shen) stabilizer, calming the mood like any good adaptogen. In TCM, if someone is struggling with anxiety or stress and tension, pearl is a go-to tool in many shen or mind adaptogenic tonics.

Photo: @patriziomartorana

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What's the role of pearl in ayurveda?

In traditional Indian medicine or ayurveda, pearl powder is also used for its anti-aging and adaptogenic benefits. Known as Mukta Pishti, pearl powder is used in ayurveda to calm heat in the body and bring coolness in the digestive system and balance inflammation in the body. Pearl was also an ingredient used in ayurvedic love potions, touted as an aphrodisiac.

Is there any modern science behind pearl's benefits?

More and more, modern science is validating the ancient wisdom about pearl. Pearl powder contains over 30 trace minerals, a natural, whole food medicine array of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, selenium, and silica. These nutrients are responsible for thousands of different important pathways needed for a healthy brain, hormones, immune system, and skin.

Pearl also has many amino acids, several of them being essential amino acids (i.e., your body doesn't make them, but they are needed for your health). Pearl also contains a special compound known as conchiolin. Conchiolin is what gives pearls their rainbow luminescence. This unique pearl protein promotes healthy collagen production, which results in plump, glowing skin. Conchiolin protein has similar effects to keratin, which is one of the proteins in your skin and hair and is able to improve hydration of skin cells, speed up cell metabolism, increase circulation, and help to repair damaged cells.

Is pearl powder vegan?

Similar to bee pollen, pearl powder is technically not vegan, although many vegans find it acceptable to include food medicines like pearl powder and bee pollen in their diet.

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How do you use pearl powder?

Since pearl dissolves easily and has such a mild flavor (you can't really taste it at all), it makes the perfect addition to your favorite recipes. Personally, I love including it in my morning smoothie and teas throughout the day. Another great way to incorporate it is in soups or in bone broth that you can sip on. The collagen present in bone broth also plays a role in keeping skin looking youthful, so by adding pearl powder, you are just elevating the whole package. There is no limit to what you can do with pearl powder, so experiment and find a recipe that you love!

If you want glowing skin, you should also be sure to include these 10 foods in your diet.

William Cole, D.C.

Functional Medicine Practitioner
Dr. Will Cole, leading functional medicine expert, graduated from Southern California University of Health Sciences as a doctor of chiropractic. His extensive postdoctorate education and training is in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. Dr. Cole consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors and customizing health programs for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal dysfunctions, digestive disorders and brain problems. Visit www.drwillcole.com for free e-books, recipes, and webcam evaluation.
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William Cole, D.C.

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