The Essential Salt

saltWars have been fought over salt, fortunes have been made and lost on the back of this mineralised crystal and nations have been brought to their knees through soil salting practices that effectively shut down food supply. Our modern, industrial salt is found everywhere in our food supply but generates far more problems than it does benefits. The “salting” of our soils continues but this time we did it ourselves in the name of fertilising to build yield. Whether an act of war or self inflicted, the outcome is similar. It’s just that one is more immediate and the other more insidious. An oversupply of fertiliser salts dehydrates the microorganisms responsible for nutrient uptake and our food slowly becomes more demineralised as a result. We bastardised mineral-rich rock salt and sea salt (which both contain a wonderful balance of the full spectrum of minerals required to sustain good health) and stripped out these minerals to create a free flowing, sodium chloride abomination which has been linked to high blood pressure, water retention and Alzheimer’s. The neurotoxin link comes from the addition of aluminium which is added to table salt to ensure that it flows freely from your salt shaker (aluminium has been strongly linked to Alzheimer’s in recent research). One of the simplest steps forward on the path toward wellness is to throw out your bastardised table salt and to embrace a mineral-rich alternative. I firmly believe that if the fast food outlets were to replace table salt with a naturally mineralised alternative, this tiny step could improve the mineral status of those consuming this ‘empty’ convenience food. If the salt in processed foods was also replaced with “the good stuff”, we could be looking at significant improvements. The questions are “Which is the best of the natural alternatives?Which salt serves best as a flavour enhancer in cooked or raw food? And are there any other benefits associated with the natural mineralised alternatives?”

Which Salt Delivers

Sea salt contains the full spectrum of minerals found in the seawater from which it is derived. One should always remember that the very first cell emerged from the 3% salt concentration found in the Precambrian Ocean and mirrored the mineral balance found in that medium.

There is a strong argument that we may need a similar balance of all those minerals but the roles of many of them are yet to be determined. Nothing in nature happens accidentally and research is showing the multiple benefits associated with a daily swim in the ocean give credence to the multi mineral theory. The growing problem with sea salt however is the issue of mercury contamination. No ocean on our planet has escaped the footprint of modern man and unfortunately that footprint is contaminated with the heavy metal, mercury and a host of other undesirables including crude oil from ships, toxic chemicals, sewerage and radioactive contaminants.

The Queensland Government, for example, has recently advised against the consumption of tuna, as this fish at the top of the food chain has now accumulated unacceptable levels of mercury. There is no known safe level of mercury and this is why many health professionals are now recommending that their clients avoid sea salt. This 30 times concentrate of seawater inevitably contains small amounts of this heavy metal. Mercury has a devastating effect on the immune system and accumulates in organs like the brain, heart and liver.

Rock salt is obviously less contaminated. Unlike the ocean, which unavoidably receives our pollutants, this material was formed many millions of years ago and is relatively pristine. All of the hype in recent years has been about Himalayan Rock Salt, which features a good mineral balance and is free from contaminants. However, there has been some marketing licence in relation to the actual source of this salt, most of which actually comes from river beds in Pakistan.

There is only one salt that is considered genuinely therapeutic in India. I strongly believe that this remarkable material should be on every Australian dinner table and in every salt-based livestock supplement. It probably also has an important remineralising role to play in the soil and in plants (but we have only just begun researching this potential).

The Ayurvedic Wellness Salt

The ancient Indian culture and civilisation developed in the Indus valley and The Salt Range within this valley is the source of a special salt that has been mined for thousands of years. This Indus salt (often called Induppu or Saindhava) has been used in the ayurvedic wellness and longevity philosophy for many centuries and is widely considered the best salt in India. The Western world is only now discovering the unique properties of this salt as you will find by checking the net. Induppu originated from the ocean and these original deposits, formed during the Cambrian period, have remained protected from environmental pollution by a dense cover of overlaying rock. This salt has matured within the earth for the last 500 million years to become one of the most valuable foods on the planet. Induppu is mined, washed by hand and dried in the sun. There are no additives or further processing involved. The salt has a faint pink hue derived from its iron content. In the Ayurvedic tradition this salt is considered to be cooling which broadly implies that it is anti-inflammatory rather than inflammatory like most salts. It is also considered sweet, calmative and digestive and is consequently widely used in Ayurvedic digestive remedies. It penetrates very rapidly and is a tonic for the eyes and it is also used as an aphrodisiac. I guess if you can see your lover more clearly it could have a stimulating effect – then again I guess it depends on the lover! However, one of the most appealing characteristics of this salt is the taste. It is simply the best salt I have ever tasted anywhere and it has profound flavour enhancement potential when used as a spice/condiment.

Beyond The Table

There are several popular usages for this salt beyond its use as a condiment and the most popular of these include Solé, salt baths and The Mountain Salt Detox. I love the concept of Solé because it offers broad spectrum mineralisation and electrolyte replacement at a minuscule price that any family could afford. Solé is a 26% saturated solution (4 parts water to 1 part salt) of Induppu which can be made up and stored in a glass jar indefinitely as it is self-preserving. The idea is to include a teaspoon of this saturated salt solution in your drinking bottle each day to achieve absurdly inexpensive, daily remineralisation. It does not taste too salty at this dilution in your water (in fact it enhances the water flavour and makes it more drinkable) and it costs less than 3 cents (AUS) per teaspoon. Alternatively, you might choose to mix it with some freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juice, using up to 2 teaspoons of Solé, to make your own electrolyte replacement drink that is infinitely superior to the sugar-laced commercial versions.

Salt baths are a great concept as they utilise the skin’s remarkable absorption capacity where minerals are drawn directly into the blood. This uptake potential is substantially increased when the pores are open in a warm bath. Induppu can be added to the bath at a rate of 125 grams with 100 mL of magnesium oil to create a mineralising, muscle relaxing close to a stressful day.

The Mountain Salt detox involves making a paste comprising equal amounts of coconut oil and Induppu and a teaspoon of lavender oil. This paste is applied to the entire body prior to a session in a far infra-red sauna. If you do not have access to a sauna then wrap your salt-encrusted body in a large beach towel and then wrap yourself in a heavy blanket. In both cases you will sweat profusely and the salt serves to draw toxins from your body. Natural therapists claim that a 40minute mountain salt detox is equivalent to a week long fast. If they are correct, it is a far less demanding alternative. My son Adam and his friend Andrew had been doing this detox in my sauna every week for 6 weeks when I happened to test Adam for a wide range of minerals while conducting other hair tests during one of my health workshops. I was fascinated to find that he had had an amazing increase in many minerals since he was last tested. It appears that it is a two way street during this Mountain Salt Detox.The toxins are being drawn out but the minerals are entering the open pores and serving to remineralise. We plan to conduct more research into this phenomenon to determine if it is indeed a viable mineralising strategy.