Salt Benefits

Salt
Latin Name

Sal

Also Known As

Celtic Sea Salt, Himalayan Salt, Pink Himalayan Salt, Black Himalayan Salt

Parts Used

Crystals

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Salt is essential to life. Wild animals will trek for hundreds of miles, risking predators and their lives in pursuit of this life giving, mineral rich compound. A salt deficiency can have devastating consequences in the wild, it will compromise speed and strength – leaving herbivores unable to run from predators and carnivores unable to chase their prey.

Up until around 100 years ago, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities in human history. It was deemed so important by the Romans that Legionnaires were paid in salt, giving us the word “salary” from the Latin root “sal”. In prehistoric times, animals wore pathways to salt licks which men followed. Settlements that went on to be cities and nations were all built near salt deposits.

The importance of salt has spilled over into our language. Hardworking people are “worth their salt”, a good person is described as “salt of the earth” and the word “salubrious”, which means “health-giving”, all point to the reverence once given to salt.  

Why then, has this vital substance been demonised in recent years? Unfortunately, today's table salt is actually 97.5 percent sodium chloride and 2.5 percent chemicals. Dried at over 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, the excessive heat alters the natural structure of the salt. It has had all its precious minerals stripped away, leaving a chemically cleaned, highly unnatural form of salt. It overburdens the organs, upsets fluid and electrolyte balance, and the body must sacrifice tremendous amounts of energy trying to metabolise table salt crystals.

Here we will discuss the benefits of natural, unprocessed salt, just like our ancestors used to consume.

Salt Benefits

Rich in Minerals and Electrolytes

High quality sea salt retains upwards of 60 trace minerals that literally cling on to the sodium chloride and stay there. Calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc and iodine are just a few of the minerals that can be found in unprocessed salt. In todays mineral deficient soil, it is easy to become low on these important compounds – without minerals, the body cannot absorb vitamins properly. A diet with enough proper salt can help to counter any imbalances, promote healthy digestion and prevent dehydration.

Electrolytes are compounds that conduct electricity when mixed with water. They are important to many bodily functions such as; regulating nerve and muscle function, hydrating the body, balancing blood acidity and pressure and helping to rebuild damaged tissue. Low levels of electrolytes can produce symptoms such as extreme thirst, palpitations, numbness, dizziness, cramps and mental confusion.

Promotes Fluid Balance and Prevents Dehydration

Although we may associate salty foods with making us thirsty, natural and unprocessed salt is actually critical in preventing dehydration and promoting fluid balance. Water follows salt, meaning that not enough sodium can result in water loss and dehydration. Too much sodium can lead to water retention, so it is important to get the balance right.

Potassium is abundant in salt – this electrolyte mineral works together with sodium to maintain fluid balance within the body. Fluids include plasma, extracellular fluid and amniotic fluid if you are pregnant.

Supports Healthy Digestion

Salt plays an important part in the primary processes of digestion and absorption. Firstly, it activates salivary amylase, the mouth enzyme that prepares the body to digest food. Sodium then exposes food to the taste buds which helps to start digestion by breaking down food - this is why food has traditionally been "salted", not only does it improve the taste, it helps to kick off the digestive process.

Salt also provides chloride - one of the building blocks for stomach acid. Enough hydrochloric acid (HCL) is imperative to good digestion and consuming natural salt with food will help to ensure the proper amount is produced to ensure nutrients are digested and absorbed.

Finally, with salt present the acidity of the partially digested food is able to trigger the production of natural sodium bicarbonate. This is derived from sodium chloride, as well as enzymatic and bile secretions from the gallbladder and pancreatic ducts. Digestion is not possible without salt.

Detox and Cleanse

The rich mineral content of natural, unrefined salt gently encourages the body's natural detoxification process. Adding salt to warm water makes a drink known as "sole", which helps to flush out waste and toxins whilst simultaneously cleansing the digestive tract and stimulating rapid bowel movements.

Poor digestion can also contribute to a build-up of toxins in the body. Undigested food can slowly ferment in the stomach, small intestine and colon, causing harmful bacteria and other pathogens to grow. The digestive benefits of salt, coupled with its antibacterial and cleansing properties, ensure that unwanted waste and toxins are safely flushed from the body and unwanted pathogens are neutralised.

Typical Use

Salt can be used to season food and mixed with water to create "sole". It also makes a great addition to a relaxing bath. 

Folklore and History

Once worth its weight in gold, in the 6th century AD Moorish merchants routinely traded salt ounce for ounce for gold. In Abyssinia, slabs of rock salt called amôlés became the coin of the realm. Each one was about ten inches long and two inches thick. Cakes of salt were also used as money in other areas of central Africa.

Salt routes criss-crossed the globe. One of the most travelled led from Morocco south across the Sahara to Timbuktu and ships bearing salt from Egypt to Greece traversed the Mediterranean and the Aegean. Herodotus describes a caravan route that united the salt oases of the Libyan desert. Venice's glittering wealth was attributable not so much to exotic spices as to commonplace salt, which Venetians exchanged in Constantinople for the spices of Asia. In 1295 AD when he first returned from Cathay, Marco Polo delighted the Doge with tales of the prodigious value of salt coins bearing the seal of the great Khan.

“In all ages salt has been invested with a significance far exceeding that inherent in its natural properties…Homer calls it a divine substance. Plato describes it as especially near to the gods, and we shall presently note the importance attached to it in religious ceremonies, covenants and magical charms. That this should have been so in all parts of the world and in all times shows that we are dealing with a general human tendency and not with any local custom circumstance or notion.” Ernest Jones, 1912

Salt
Precautions

Please speak to your healthcare practitioner if you are taking prescription medications.