‘Too much salt is bad for us …’
So says the Department of Health, and leads to fluid retention, high blood pressure and heart disease. They refer, of course, to the refined table salt we use to flavour our meals as well as the staggering amount routinely added to convenience foods, bread and even breakfast cereals. Common table salt has been stripped of its trace minerals, consisting merely of sodium and chloride. In the UK, the anti-caking agent hexacyanoferrate 2 is added to prevent it from becoming damp, and there is debate whether such chemicals make it harder for the salt to be utilised effectively by the body.
Yet left in its untreated original form, salt is a fundamental requirement for life. All forms of life evolved from the primal ocean covering our planet millions of years ago. Since then, sea water has been evaporating, leaving behind a crystallised salt containing the 84 minerals and trace elements that are also to be found within the human body itself. The nutritional quality of natural crystal salt contrasts starkly with the impoverished form of salt we now use for flavouring our food.
Salt used to be considered more valuable than gold and was believed to safeguard our health. Our bodily fluids are slightly salty and similar in composition to sea water. We require this salty solution to regulate and perform all physiological functions in the human body. It is present in the amniotic fluid required by the embryo to survive, and necessary for cellular maintenance, nerve conduction, digestion, absorption and elimination of waste products.
Whereas common table salt is detrimental to human health in excess, whole crystal salt, found naturally in salt mines, is thought to have healing properties and increasingly being used by health professionals to treat a wide range of health problems. A regular intake of water with a tiny amount of crystal salt, called “sole” (pronounced solay) is known to stimulate circulation, lower blood pressure and remove heavy metals from the body.
Natural crystal salt can be used on food and in cooking instead of processed salt. Therapeutic uses include sole inhalations to treat sinus and respiratory conditions, sole eye baths to soothe irritated eyes, sole wraps for arthritis, sole baths to aid in detoxification and sole mud masks for various skin conditions.
Peter Ferreira, a German biophysicist, is a leading authority of the subject. His lifelong fascination with water and salt led to research into the healing benefits of crystal salt as described in his book “Water & Salt: The Essence of Life”. He explains that crystal salt differs widely in quality depending on the location found and warns of inferior copy cat products made from more ‘common’ forms of rock salt. In his research, he refers to a specific crystalline salt, hand mined in the Himalayan Mountains of Pakistan, which appears superior to those from other geographical locations. Ferreira has donated his author’s fee to a child aid project in Pakistan, saying: “We received a wonderful gift from these people. I believe it is time to return something.”
© 2011 Martina Watts MSc Nut Med, First Published Brighton Argus October 2003