The trace minerals Manganese and Silicon are two of the lesser known micro-nutrients which contribute to good health, but the extent of their role in keeping us healthy is only now becoming a major interest – and with some promising clinical results.
The incidence of painful joints and skeletal disorders is widespread in the population and the severity of these complaints ranges from sports injuries and the occasional “tennis elbow”, through painful calcium deposits known as “spurs”, to the autoimmune diseases of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Any new treatments that promise help for these debilities, and which have stood the test of clinical trials, is certainly welcome, especially when the treatments are non-toxic and not a problem for ongoing management. It now appears that Manganese and Silicon are two such discoveries.
Let’s take a closer look at these trace element minerals and learn more about their activity in the body.
Starting with Manganese, it is known to be a key element in a number of important enzyme reactions, particularly those which control the metabolism of fatty acids and glucose.
Manganese is also necessary for the production of mucopolysaccharides – a great long word which refers to the lubricant substances present in the joint spaces of our skeleton, like knees, elbows, shoulders, hips, etc.
Insufficient Manganese can impair the healthy formation of connective tissue, so put together with a deficiency in joint lubrication, too little Manganese means susceptibility to arthralgia – joint, tendon and bone disorders. Other deficiency signs for Manganese include poor growth in children, hearing problems, ear noises, dizziness and poor coordination.
Insufficient Manganese is suspected if an individual has very low cholesterol readings. This is linked to the role of Manganese as an enzyme facilitator which needs to use cholesterol as the raw substance in the manufacture cellular membranes, production of certain hormones and fabrication of bile salts (so necessary in fat digestion). If there is too little cholesterol present, none of these vital processes can take place.
The Center for Inflammatory Arthritis (based in Melbourne) has been conducting clinical trials using Manganese for patients with arthritis and also in the treatment of other autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, scleroderma and some others.
Rheumatoid or Psoriatic Arthritis subjects used in these tests experienced reduced inflammation in affected joints. According to Dr Bill Paspaliaris, Clinical Pharmacologist at the Melbourne Center, the form of Manganese which proved helpful was of two types: Manganese Chloride and Manganese Sulfate.
Sufferers of Osteoarthritis were similarly tested in the USA with Manganese in these two forms and showed good results. The original tests used injections of the mineral, but oral dosages have also proved effective although somewhat slower acting.
Manganese as a nutrient occurs naturally – and in high amounts – in black tea and black pepper. Nuts and seeds are also sources.
Dr. Jeffrey Bland, Director of the Linus Pauling Institute in Oregon, USA states that those individuals who consume considerable amounts of black tea may be getting an excess of manganese and that this can act as a suppressant to iron absorption. Some iron deficiency anemias may thus be caused by excessive black tea drinking.
Dr. Bland recommends that when training for sports, or recovering from a sporting injury, increasing manganese intake is indicated, but never to excess. Other uses for the Chelate form of Manganese are appropriate in treatments for low blood sugar, allergies, asthma, fatigue, diabetes and atherosclerosis, according to Dr. Bland.
Silicon is one of the most plentiful minerals on the earth. It makes up the major part of sand and has numerous uses in the manufacturing industry. We only have to think of glass objects or computers to recall the significance of silicon in our lives. Herbal Silica (Equisetum), on the other hand, is the organic mineral form as it occurs in plants.
Silicon’s impact on human health was first studied in Finland by Dr. Klaus Schwarz. Dr. Schwarz’s studies assessed what appeared to be a positive link between high levels of silicon in the natural water supply in some regions of Finland with the low incidence of atherosclerosis and heart disease in the population of those same regions.
Further studies noted that high levels of silicon were found in the coronary arteries of those individuals who did not have atherosclerosis. Based on these findings, silicon has been suggested as an important role in the maintenance of clean arteries through the stimulation of proper arterial wall growth and integrity.
Dr Schwarz, during his investigations into the links between silicon and healthy arteries, also found that silicon is important in bone formation. Studies conducted in the USA, conclusively demonstrated that silicon is an essential trace element in bone formation.
The herbal form of Silica is preferred by naturopathic practitioners. Also called Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), it is easily taken as a pleasant herbal tea. When mildly brewed, soluble silica is freely available from this source. Herbal silica is useful for poor fingernail growth, the regeneration of connective tissue, helping the mending of fractured bones and strengthening ligaments.
Other bone disorders that are helped with silica are calcium deposits known as spurs, kidney, gall and urinary stones, and osteoarthritis. Silica is known as a calcium organizer in naturopathic terms because it absorbs calcium from where it is not needed and moves it through the system to where it can be constructively utilized.
From these characteristics, it is evident silicon and manganese can work together to help in the treatment of arthritis, joint and bone disorders, and contribute to the health of other body systems as well.