Medical Facts and Research
Written by: Dr. Jolanta Gutkowska M.D PhD
McGill Montréal Medical Center, Montreal Canada
Professor, Department of Medicine
Professor, Experimental Medicine, McGill
Director, Lab of Cardiovascular Biochemistry
*This article is subject to copyright*
History of Salt:
Salt has been a highly valued mineral for thousands of years in almost of all cultures and continents. As far back as 6050 BC, salt has been an important and integral part of the world’s history, as it has been interwoven into countless civilizations. Used as a part of Egyptian religious offerings and valuable trade between the Phoenicians and their Mediterranean empire, salt and history have been inextricably intertwined for millennia, with great importance placed on salt by many different cultures. Even today, the history of salt touches our daily lives. The word “salary” was derived from the word “salt.” Salt was highly valued and its production was legally restricted in ancient times, so it was historically used as a method of trade and money. Before electricity, salt was used to preserve the food. Undeniably, the history of salt is both broad and unique, leaving its indelible mark in cultures across the globe.
Human Physiology and Salt:
The salt is essential for human health and plays an important role in several physiological functions. For the scientist the salt is a small molecule composed of two atoms, one positively charged sodium and another with negative charge, chloride, together they form salt, sodium chloride. For the physician, the salt is crucial as well as controversial. Sodium is a vital nutrient. It is a major component of extracellular fluid and is essential for maintaining the volume of the blood to allow the adequate tissue perfusion and normal cellular metabolism. Salt is distributed throughout the body, in all cells and in all circulating fluids of the body such as blood, lymph, semen, urine and tears. Without salt our bodies become chemically unbalanced, our muscle and nervous system cease to function because the all body cells would lose their water, causing the dehydration and death.
Sodium is an essential nutrient but the body is not able to produce salt and it has to be provided to our organism. To survive everyone needs to consume salt regularly. An adult human body contains about 250 grams of salt and any excess is naturally excreted by the body.
The Role of Salt in the Human Body:
Salt has many other functions than just regulation of water content of the body; it plays a vital role in the regulation of many bodily functions. Salt is powerful antihistamine, asthma and emphysema and cystic fibrosis sufferers can get rid of mucus and phlegm in the lungs by taking salt an drinking plain water.
The presence of sodium ions is essential for the contraction of muscles including that largest and most important muscle, the heart. Muscle cramps could be relieved by putting the pinch of salt on the end of tongue and letting it dissolved.
Salt helps to relieve “stress” symptoms, depression and emotional problems. Consuming and inhaling healthy natural salt helps to relive those symptoms along with walking, exercising and following healthy diet. Salt is important to remove the acidity from the brain cells to make brain function better, it is fundamental to the operation of signals to and from brain.
Without sufficient sodium our senses would be dull and our nerves would not function.
Our digestive system requires salt to properly absorb the food to eat. Our body developed an elaborate system to regulate the sodium content in the body fluids. The blood vessels and brain send the signal to the kidneys to retain or to secrete salt to match the quantity of salt our body needs.
Halo (salt in Greek language) therapy:
The salt mines in Poland were the origins for halotherapy. It has been observed hundreds of years ago that salt miners seemed to thrive in a good health quite opposite to coal miners. They rarely had any respiratory problems and their skin had great appearance. For centuries, monks used naturally-occurring salt caverns to treat respiratory ailments. Several decades of research led to recreate salt caverns, with one huge improvement over nature: in the halotherapy room, the disbursed salt particles in the air, proper humidity and temperature created the quality environment with natural benefit.
Salt therapy started in Poland 150 years ago. Dr.Boczkowski was the first physician to incorporate salt therapies into his medical practice for respiratory conditions. His example was followed by other physicians, thus salt therapy became very popular in many parts of the world.
The salt chambers if properly constructed and equipped are completely bacteria and allergen free and rich in healthy micro-elements such as sodium chloride and magnesium chloride and other micro elements necessary for healthy life. Such environment is beneficial for anyone suffering from asthma, lung inflammation, allergies or recurrent nose, sinus or throat conditions as well as preventative measure of maintaining good health.
Skin conditions can also be improved with halotherapy (psoriasis, rashes, eczema, and acne). Table salt, sodium chloride, is dehydrating, but pure mineral salts have natural moisturizing properties and support the skin’s water balance and barrier function by attracting moisture to the skin. Minerals are necessary for cell function and detoxification, so mineral salts have strong rejuvenating properties. It is now accepted that salt possess anti- bacterial anti-inflammatory properties and may be used for several ailments such as various respiratory problems skin irritation and even to combat mental lethargy.