August 2016 By Fatima Diwan The powerful benefits of salt has made it a tried and tested therapy since aeons, says Fatema Diwan, while throwing light on its latest avatar, the salt room The shining white healing room at the Salt Escape Gandhiji raised a fistful of salty mud and declared, “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire.” Thousands of marchers followed his example and started boiling seawater to make illegal but necessary salt along the seashore. Salt has intermingled with the history, food and healing practises of the world ever since it was first discovered thousands of years ago. Simply put, human life would not exist without salt. In the beginning, the two great sources of salt were sea water and rock salt. Apart from their invaluable role in giving taste to food and also acting as a preservative, both varieties have great curative powers. Salt and energy The colourful salt room for children at Salt Escape, Mumbai Sea salt is shown to preserve serotonin and melatonin – hormones which regulate sleep, appetite and mood. It has been found effective in healing chronic ailments like depression. Bindiya Shah, a pranic healer, recalls an incident, “Once, a lady diagnosed with depression, started having recurring suicidal tendencies. I requested her to have a salt water bath daily. After 15 days of practice, her suicidal tendencies disappeared, and she said that she felt like a new person.” The practice of reiki recognises this cure. Other than baths, rock salt solution (rock/sea salt mixed with water), can be used to clean home and work spaces to wipe off any negative energy. It is also believed that carrying rock salt on one’s person can be useful to overcome opponents and negative forces. Sprinkling rock salt on fruits and vegetables leads to improved health and clearing of bodily blockages. Unfortunately, in present times, man has fiddled with this basic substance of human survival by adding anti clumping agents, iodine and other additives that decrease its potency. The major difference between sea salt and commercial (table) salt is that sea salt is unprocessed and hence retains its mineral content like magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium, all of which play a key role in maintaining our skin’s health, body metabolism, and intercellular communication which refined table salt, devoid of minerals, does not. NK Sharma, a naturopathy practitioner, condemns this innovation, “Our body does not require any inorganic salt because necessary organic salt is provided by the vegetables, fruits and nuts that we eat and any artificial substitute is similar to a man-made chemical. Our body does not absorb any external chemical and hence has to throw it out. Rock salt, on the other hand, absorbs the negative contents of the environment which are positive ions emitted by mobile phones, TV, and microwave.” He goes on to add, “Pranic and reiki healing use salt rocks and crystals to cleanse the aura. Salt always removes negative forces. It is also used in vastu. It’s an active diffuser.” Sanjay Jain, a Vastu consultant, corroborates this. He says, “Sea salt is considered a pure cleansing mineral that is used to remove negative energy and to allow balanced flow of energy inside the home. During griha pravesh we clean the floors with salt for the same purpose.” He further adds, “Keeping a piece of rock salt in the washroom is ideal because it’s a place where we remove our dead cells.” Today, salt lamps made of Himalayan rock are available, and are said be good neutralisers of electromagnetic radiation, and aid sleep along with other benefits, according to Jain. A bowl half-filled with rock salt and water can be kept in the hall. Whenever large amounts of granules of salt appear to build on the edges of the bowl, it denotes the presence of negative energy at home. Health benefits Dr. Meghana Dikshit, founder of De Maantra, a holistic wellness centre, explains how ayurveda believes in taking things with a pinch of salt. As per ayurveda, salt plays an important role in: Balancing the water content in the body Helping digestion Stimulating the appetite Helping in absorption of food Detoxification and Elimination She cites two cases where salt acted as a curing agent. She says, “Shanti had been suffering from sciatica since about 15-odd years when she came to me. We decided to put her on salt foot soak, salt massage and oil and salt basti with other herbal medications and emotional healing sessions. Her ailment of 15 years was cured in 15 days and where she was previously unable to walk properly, now she was actually climbing steps effortlessly.” She continues, “In another case, a 14-year-old boy who was suffering from bronchitis, heavy breathing and was on medication began to breathe better after a single application of warm sea salt poultice, which reduced his congestion.” Salt can treat bone and metabolic disorders, strengthen the immune system, and improve the cardiovascular system Perhaps all this explains why salt rooms are now de rigour all over the world. In the course of writing this article, I visited Mumbai’s first salt therapy centre, called The Salt Escape (SE), located in South Mumbai, The large plush centre has two rooms, one for children and the other for adults. Both rooms have shining white salt caked on the walls, and thickly spread on the floor, just like sand in a beach. The children’s room has a pretty painted wall, and colourful tables and chairs, I found the place insanely pretty to look at and well thought out. Surrounded by tonnes of pharmaceutical salt, the co-owner of The Salt Escape, Lyla Mehta told me that it was her husband’s allergic rhinitis that sparked off the making of this place. Mr Jamsheed Mehta (Lyla’s husband) was searching online to find a possible cure for his condition when he came across an interesting information. Salt as a healing agent has been used since the time of the Greek civilisation. In 1843, it was discovered that men working in the salt mines suffered fewer respiratory problems than the general population. And so the Mehtas decided to introduce Halotherapy to Mumbai. The place presents a clean undiluted breathing environment which comes as a breath of fresh air in today’s polluted life. I had a common cold that day and sitting there for over an hour did make my breathing slightly easier. I could see how beneficial it could be to asthmatics on a regular basis. One of their clients’ frequency of using inhalers decreased just after five sessions! A mother of a three-year-old son is all praises for SE. She writes, “My son fell ill almost every other week with a cough, cold or flu. It was difficult for him to be regular at school due to this. As a mother, I would blame the polluted city and the air we breathed in, which is uncontrollable. But ever since he started visiting Salt Escape regularly he has not missed school once. The best part of SE is that the room is made in a play room style where the kids can play with salt like they do in a sand pit. My son, therefore, looked forward to being at SE where he received an all-natural therapy simultaneously as compared to those dreaded visits to a doctor’s clinic, and cough syrups at 1 am.” Different cultures use salt differently. Bohri Muslims, for example, break their fast with salt. According to them, the main reason is that it gets the digestive juices flowing and prepares the digestive system to digest and absorb the food. Salt also stimulates the taste buds of the tongue to their utmost, increasing saliva secretion; which is essential to the person who is fasting as it helps avoid indigestion. Salt also has water retentive properties. Beauty benefits Aside from the vast energy and health benefits, salt also provides beauty remedies like strengthening the skin tissue to rejuvenate your skin, making it look younger and firmer. It can be used as both a facial mask and toner since it does wonders for the skin. Furthermore, it can be used to eradicate dandruff, or as a natural mouthwash that kills bad breath causing bacteria and gingivitis. Lastly, it is known to strengthen and brighten nails by removing yellow stains. But don’t let that tempt you to overdose. Like all things in life, salt can be deadly when taken excessively. In China, the nobility used to practise ritual suicide by taking one gram of salt per kilogram of weight. This was limited to the nobility as salt was very expensive back then. So remember, don’t go overboard because sometimes you gotta pass (up) the salt too.
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