THE TWO BEST SALTS ON THE PLANET:
Sulfur-Rich Himalayan Black Salt and Bamboo Salt
I have long had a love affair with salt. I like most of my food salty. More salty than anyone I know, and probably more salty than most of the people on the planet. I can’t explain it. I know many people are able to happily eat non-salty food. I am just not one of them.
Of course, traditional medical thought has taught us that salt is bad for our health. Health authorities have been telling us for decades to restrict our sodium intake. They suggest that we should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, which amounts to about one teaspoon. That’s about the most unappealing idea for food that I can imagine.
This thinking says that salt affects the body by making it hold on to water. The extra water is then stored in the body, raising blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the greater the strain on your heart, arteries, kidneys and brain. And this can then (presumably) lead to heart attacks, strokes, dementia and kidney disease.
Indeed, there is some research that supports the risk of high sodium intake. Solid research shows that high salt intake may increase the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that can lead to inflammation and gastric ulcers, which can then increase the risk of stomach cancer. Also, a diet high in salt may damage and inflame the stomach lining, thus exposing it to carcinogens.
However, it is important to understand that these cited studies are observational, and do not fit the gold standard of a controlled experimental study proving cause and effect. They do not prove that high salt intake causes ulcers or stomach cancer—only that the two are strongly associated. Also, these studies evaluated the use of table salt. Table salt is two minerals: sodium and chloride. All other minerals that are present in truly natural salt have been stripped from the final product. About 75% of the salt in the American diet comes from processed food, and this salt is highly refined, mineral-less, table salt. Even with the disadvantages of table salt, in spite of decades of research on salt, most of the studies have failed to provide convincing causative evidence to support the contention of dangers of too much salt.
In contradistinction to the lots-of-salt-is-bad-for-you theory, many studies actually show that eating too little salt can be harmful. The negative health effects of salt restriction include:
- Elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides: Salt restriction has been linked to elevated LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Heart disease: Several studies report that less than 3,000 mg of sodium per day is linked to an increased risk of dying from heart disease.
- Heart failure: One analysis found that restricting salt intake increased the risk of dying for people with heart failure. The effect was quite strong: there was a 160% higher risk of death in those who reduced their salt intake.
- Insulin resistance: Studies have reported that a low-salt diet may increase insulin resistance.
- Type 2 diabetes: One study found that in type 2 diabetes patients, less sodium was associated with an increased risk of death.
Given the history of mankind, and our never-ending love affair with salt, it would seem odd that a substance that has, in ancient times, been as valuable as gold, would, in the final analysis, be bad for us. Throughout the evolutionary history of earth, many mammals have traveled long distances to situate themselves next to salt sources. We human mammals have been among those making these journeys. Our ancestors often chose to live near seashores because of the abundance of salt-laden sea algae.
The body has the innate and brilliant ability to regulate salt levels all on its own. Through adrenal and renal functions, and through sweat and tears, salt is instrumental in maintaining fluid balance between the internal and external environments of our cells. Our bodies also possess specific mechanisms to keep all electrolytes (of which sodium is one) within a narrow range by utilizing specific adrenal hormones. These hormones instruct the kidneys to either use the sodium, or excrete it into the urine. According to Adiel Tel-Oren, M.D., people who avoid salt tend to create an imbalance in this regulatory hormonal system. As a result, they suffer from electrolyte deficiency in the blood, as well adrenal fatigue, the symptoms of which are dizziness, inability to handle stress, intense fatigue, headaches, fluid retention, and sleep disturbance. The research is now sufficient for us to conclude that reduction in sulfur’s availability compromises health and accelerates biological degeneration and inflammation.
Like most health-concerned people, for many decades I have used the usual salt suspects that we health fanatics know to be the best salts to eat: Himalayan Pink Salt and Celtic Salt. Himalayan Pink Salt is land-mined, and is unpolluted. But it has one great disadvantage: it is harvested from sedimentary layers that lack an essential mineral: sulfur. Celtic salt has another disadvantage: it can be harvested from highly polluted seas that have been contaminated by agricultural, industrial and urban runoff.
Dr. Tel-Oren changed my salt preference when I met him a few years ago. He introduced me to Himalayan Black Salt, which is an entirely different animal than the usual Himalayan Pink Salt. The black salt is still pink in color, but comes from black rock high in Nepal. Dr. Tel-Oren has spent much of his time traveling to Nepal, taking trekkers up the Himalayan mountains, and supporting several orphanages there. He arranged for this black rock salt to be imported to the U.S., and, until now, it has been available only through Ecopolitan.com, a center in Minneapolis that Dr. Tel-Oren helped to establish.
Recently, I discovered another impressive salt: Bamboo Salt. These two salts are the only salts I use now, and I use them liberally with good conscience that I am not only not harming my body, but, rather, I am putting important and necessary materials into my body. Both salts are rich in a large variety of trace elements, but where they distinguish themselves from all other salts is in their high sulfur content. Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in the human body.
Unfortunately, today, many of us are deficient in sulfur. Increasing levels of toxins in our food, water, and air, combined with lower food quality, have caused depletion of our bodily sulfur reserves. The elderly and vegetarians often suffer the greatest deficiency. This is one reason why organic sulfur supplements like MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) and DMSO are helpful.
Sulfur supports many metabolic functions, and the biological usefulness of sulfur in our bodies is essential and varied. It is present within every human cell. It gives us a youthful appearance, and good bodily locomotion. It plays a crucial role in the activities of many enzymes, in the structural strength of hair, skin, gums, and joints, and in the processes of cellular repair and regeneration. Sulfur-containing glutathione is one of the most important antioxidants within human cells. Sulfur is also a go-to compound for detoxification. It enables “sulfation”—a critical detoxification pathway in the liver and other tissues that is necessary for the survival of our cells and organs. Additionally, sulfur plays a crucial role in the activities of proteins and enzymes that contain sulfur-bearing amino acids. These bind heavy metals and chemicals for safe removal from the body.
Although sulfur is abundant in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collard greens) and allium plants (onions, garlic, chives, shallots and leeks), these foods no longer provide us with adequate amounts of sulfur. Domestication and hybridization of these foods, as well as the common use of petroleum-based agricultural methods, have created a situation where these foods alone can no longer supply us with adequate sulfur supplies. And, as well, the other high sulfur foods—eggs, meat and other animal products—have high levels of methionine, which has been shown in animal studies to shorten lifespan. Methionine increases homocysteine levels, resulting in damaged blood vessels, increased risk of stroke and heart attacks, depression, and dementia. (One researcher, Mark Simon, contends that cancer, too, is related to high methionine, and suggests a diet low in methionine to combat cancer. The food lowest in methionine is fruit. Mark Simon’s cancer-fighting dietary protocol is controversial, as it flies in the face of common holistic thinking that sugar consumption of any kind feeds cancer cells.)
Read on to find out more specifically about these two salts:
Himalayan Black Salt
Himalayan Black Salt is mined and harvested from pristine layers of earth, 300 million-years old in one of the most unpolluted places on earth. The salt is delivered to a government-approved fair trade facility in Kathmandu that is dedicated solely to the processing of the salt. The factory is owned by a humanitarian network of schools, orphanages, and community centers dedicated to preventing child trafficking as well as providing quality education and strengthening the local communities.
Rather than using chemical or mechanical means that could contaminate the resultant salt, the salt crystals are separated from the conjoining rock by hand. (Machines that are coated with lead-laced paint are of particular concern in salt mining procedures.) The salt is then hand-cleaned and crushed. Again, there is no risk of contaminants, heavy metals, or allergens entering the salt, as there is no chemical processing or refining, no heating, no cooking. Black Himalayan salt is as pure and raw as it is possible to get.
The black salt has a higher sulfur content than the bamboo salt, and it is immediately noticeable as soon as you open the jar. It gives off the usual aroma of high sulfur-content substances, which is a rotten egg smell, and, as well, when used on food, the salt gives a slight eggy-flavor to food. (Many of my friends object to the smell, and ask me not to use it on the food I prepare for them—which is usually raw, as my diet is mostly raw. I have gotten used to the smell, and believe that repeated use would get everyone to come to enjoy the egg-iness of the salt. In any case, when you cook with the salt, the egg-iness smell disappears.)
Bamboo Salt is made in Korea using a process developed over 1000 years ago by Buddhist monks. The making of bamboo salt incorporates the five elements—Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Aether. (La Casa is based on the 5 element theory of the universe, and we call the Aether element Sky.)
The five element process begins with sun-dried sea salt from the Korean Bay (the element of Water). The salt is packed into bamboo stalks that are three or more years old. Bamboo (representing the element of Aether or Sky) can reach 50-foot heights in a short period of time, consuming large amounts of cosmic energy during its growth. The bamboo is then sealed with mineral-rich yellow clay (embodying the element of Earth). Salt-filled bamboo stalks are then fired/roasted at 1600°C (activating the element of Fire), using local pine wood. Oxygen fuels the fire as the bamboo is burned (incorporating the element of Air).
A renowned Taoist healer named Insan (1909-1992) determined that the best number of times to repeat roasting the salt to optimize its therapeutic potential is nine times. The whole process takes three years to complete. Each time the salt is fired, any lingering impurities are burned off, and nutrients from the bamboo and the clay are assimilated into the salt. Repeated firing gathers and concentrates the elements, sending them into a high-velocity spin state.
As well as being high in sulfur, Bamboo Salt also contains high amounts of bio-available iodine, thus abundantly supporting the thyroid. Because it contains residues of carbon from the bamboo, it is extremely drawing—more so than other unprocessed salts. Carbon is well-known for its drawing qualities and for its use as a purifier. The unique alchemy that results during roasting appears to augment the drawing qualities of bamboo salt for a truly balancing, cleansing effect on the body, mind and spirit.
Solutions made with either of these salts can be therapeutically used as nasal rinses, gargles, eye washes, sprays, and foot baths.
Happily, La Casa now carries these highly nutritional salts for sale.