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Pearl powder is a Chinese herbal medicine that has been used for approximately 2,000 years. The treatment can be applied topically or taken orally, though until recently, oral treatments were not readily absorbed by the body. This treatment is most often used to improve the condition of the skin, though traditional Chinese medicine also uses it to treat certain liver conditions, to promote a sense of calmness, and as an antioxidant. Though there have been no clinical studies of this medication to test whether or not it is effective, anecdotal evidence has long touted the ability of pearl powder to promote a youthful appearance.
An organic gem, a pearl is made up of mostly calcium carbonate, water, and conchiolin, which is a natural material produced by the oyster. There are also traces of other minerals and materials in the pearl, as well as the grain of sand or other piece of small debris that initially caused the irritation in the oyster. Pearl powder is made by simply grinding up the pearl into a very fine dust. When taken orally, some of the molecules in the pearl can be absorbed, though methods that grind it into a fine enough powder to be of much use as a nutritional supplement have only recently been developed. The calcium absorbed from the pearl can have a beneficial effect on patients in much the same way that other calcium supplements do.
According to Chinese medical tradition, when pearl powder is rubbed on the skin, it promotes a youthful look by reducing redness and swelling and by clearing the skin of conditions such as acne and eczema. Pearl powder has been used for this purpose for thousands of years. The fine pieces of pearl can also be used to exfoliate the skin, removing dead cells, and exposing the healthier skin below.
Chinese medicine also uses pearl powder as an oral medication to treat patients with too much tension, either in their bodies or in their minds. The pearl is believed to have a soothing effect on people, lowering blood pressure, relieving stress and tension, and promoting a general sense of calmness. The anti-inflammatory effects of the powder seen by its application on the face are believed to also have anti-inflammatory effects on the rest of the body. Though none of these effects have been demonstrated by clinical trials, pearl powder is not believed to have any adverse effects.