The Health Benefits of Selenite

May be used in meditation, cancer treatment, or thyroid disease

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Chemically speaking, selenite is a compound that's made up of selenium and oxygen. If you were to look at a block of selenite, you'd see a translucent crystal with repeating patterns, similar to an ice crystal. Selenite is a form of the mineral gypsum.

Crystal therapy and Reiki practitioners use selenite for peace during meditation, to bring out an individual's inner light, and to promote advanced mental abilities (including telepathy).

Whether or not you believe in the mystical powers of selenite, modern medicine has examined the pros and cons of selenite as a dietary supplement and therapeutic agent. After all, selenium is a powerful antioxidant with promising health benefits.

Nonetheless, too much of a good thing can pose serious dangers. Consider the following information before adding this crystal compound to your medicine cabinet.

Also Known As

Other names for selenite include:

  • Desert rose
  • Disodium selenite
  • Gypsum flower
  • Monohydrated selenium dioxide
  • Monosodium selenite
  • Satin spar
  • Trioxoselenate(IV), trioxoselenate(2-), or trioxidoselenate(2-)
Selenite crystal in the light
Helin Loik-Tomson / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Health Benefits

Beyond the numerous benefits cited by alternative practitioners, selenite also shows potential in the field of conventional medicine, particularly in cancer treatment and thyroid disease. Here are a few areas that seem promising.

Colon Cancer

Selenite has been studied for its chemoprotective properties in relation to colon cancer.

Doses of selenite have been shown to suppress the metabolism of glutamine. Normally, a chemical process called glutaminolysis contributes to the production of cancer cells. Selenite interrupts glutaminolysis by breaking down its associated proteins and encouraging apoptosis (cell death).

Although further study is warranted before recommending selenite as part of cancer treatment, these initial findings justify further investigation.

Secondary Lymphedema

Cancer treatment may result in a challenging side-effect called secondary lymphedema. If lymph nodes become damaged, the body's natural drainage system gets disrupted. This leads to a build-up of fluid that brings other issues, like limited mobility, discomfort, and pain.

Sodium selenite (which is a selenite compound with an added sodium ions) has proven to be effective in the reduction of secondary lymphedema. The first example of this benefit was documented in a 1991 case study. Within 10 to 15 minutes of oral administration of sodium selenite, the patient's arm lymphedema was visibly reduced.

In a more recent trial, oral sodium selenite was provided to radiation patients over a four- to six-week period. Three-quarters of the patients experienced improvements in swelling. Amazingly, in 65% of patients, the reduction of endolaryngeal swelling was significant enough to eliminate the need for a tracheotomy.

Kashin-Beck Disease

Kashin-Beck Disease (KBD) is a chronic, degenerative condition that leads to dwarfism and skeletal deformities. Clinical signs begin during childhood, starting with joint pain, joint enlargement, and movement issues. KBD is most commonly seen in China, North Korea, and Russia.

Selenium deficiency is one of four theorized causes of the disease. Other than multiple surgeries, anti-inflammatory medications, and pain management, there is no treatment for KBD.

A review of ten randomized control trials has suggested that sodium selenite is more effective in the treatment of KBD when compared to control and placebo groups. Although current evidence is still very limited, it's possible that selenite could benefit future sufferers of KBD.

Thyroid Disease

Selenium is stored in our bodies with high concentrations found in the thyroid gland. This is because along with antioxidant activity, selenium impacts the production of thyroid hormones.

Preliminary studies suggest that selenium supplements may improve the quality of life for patients with Graves' disease. Although selenite is not considered the preferred form (organic selenomethionine is) endocrinologists may want to consider selenium status as part of a comprehensive evaluation of patients with abnormal thyroid function.

Selenium Deficiency

The following health concerns may be alleviated with selenite if a selenium deficiency is found to be the cause:

  • Infant cretinism
  • Keshan disease (a form of heart disease)
  • Male infertility

If you're concerned about selenium, blood and urine samples can offer insight into your recent selenium intake. Analysis of hair and nails helps quantify overall long-term selenium status.

Possible Side Effects

Selenite is an "inorganic" form of selenium that's naturally found in soil. As selenite is taken up by plants and eventually animals, it is converted to an organic form of selenium (either selenomethionine and selenocysteine). Both organic and inorganic forms of selenium are suitable sources of this essential trace element for humans.

Regardless of the source, early signs of too much selenium include a metallic taste in the mouth and breath that smells like garlic. More severe symptoms of selenium toxicity include:

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Facial flushing
  • Hair loss
  • Heart attack or heart failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle soreness
  • Neurological problems
  • Stomach issues
  • Tremors

Monosodium selenite can be irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. Contact with eyes and inhalation should be avoided. Disodium selenite (with two sodium molecules per selenite compound) has a larger ratio of sodium to selenite and is not considered toxic.

Selenium may interact with certain medications, including the chemotherapy drug, cisplatin. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking selenite supplements (especially if you're on other medications, or are pregnant or breastfeeding).

Dosage and Preparation

Due to the lack of regulation in the supplement industry, it's virtually impossible to know what you're really getting when you purchase dietary supplements. In 2008, mislabeled selenium supplements caused negative side effects in 201 people because the liquid supplement had 200 times the amount of selenium stated on the label.

Due to the potential for toxicity and generally low prevalence of selenium deficiency, it's best to avoid selenite supplements unless specifically recommended by your doctor. In the United States, selenium is widespread in the food supply. As long as you eat a varied diet with adequate calories, you're unlikely to benefit from additional supplementation.

Most Americans get enough selenium in the food supply. Brazil nuts are exceptionally high in selenium, so toxicity is possible with overconsumption. One individual Brazil nut has 254% of the recommended daily value of selenium (140 micrograms).

The recommended daily value of selenium is:

  • Birth to 6 months: 15 micrograms
  • 7 months to 3 years: 20 micrograms
  • 4 to 8 years: 30 micrograms
  • 9 to 13 years: 40 micrograms
  • Ages 14 years and older: 55 micrograms
  • Pregnancy: 60 micrograms
  • Lactation: 70 micrograms

For reference, three ounces of tuna provides 92 micrograms, a cup of enriched macaroni provides 37 micrograms, and a hard-boiled egg has 15 micrograms. Organ meats, like liver, are naturally high in selenium.

Keep in mind that if you take a multivitamin, additional selenium might be found there as well. Supplements usually include selenium in the form of selenomethionine (which is absorbed by the body at 90%) or selenite (which has a lower absorption of 50%).

A Word From Verywell

Although potential dangers are linked to the consumption of selenite, it's unlikely to cause issues when used in meditation or alternative therapies (assuming you are just holding the crystal).

Evidence-based research on alternative medicine is limited, but as long you're not causing harm, there's no reason to rule out spirituality and mysticism as part of your overall wellness journey. Sometimes, combining ancient practices with modern medicine offers complementary benefits from both approaches.

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