Salt in Traditional Medicine
At Oceanair Himalayan Salt Cave, we educate clients about the benefits of Salt Therapy as a complementary treatment for symptoms resulting from a variety of conditions. Salt Therapy, or Halotherapy, is not the only way for salt to be used medicinally. In traditional medicine, salt has been used for centuries in many different ways.
Gargling with Salt Water
When you feel a sore throat coming on, it has been advised by many health professionals to gargle with salt water, but why is this? Salt is naturally anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. By introducing salt water to an inflamed sore throat early on, you can reduce the inflammation that causes pain as well as inhibit growth of bacteria or viruses causing the progression of sore throat symptoms. Doing this a few times a day can help you get over a sore throat more quickly and with less pain.
It is also advised to gargle with salt water in the case of having a wound inside your mouth. Especially if that wound is from a canker sore, tooth extraction, after oral surgery, or from gum inflammation. You can make a saline solution to use as a mouth rinse by adding a half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water. Be careful not to add too much salt to the water, as this can irritate the wound and have an adverse effect on the healing process. By gargling with a saline solution every few hours after the onset of an oral wound, you can reduce the amount of time it takes to heal as well as prevent infection. Always be sure to follow any specific directions given by surgeon or physician.
Clearing Sinus Congestion
While dry salt therapy in our Himalayan Salt Cave can aid in clearing congestion, salt has also been used in traditional medicine to clear out your sinuses. Boiling salt water and gently inhaling the resulting steam is a method that has been used for decades to help you breathe easier when you have been suffering from congestion. The salt in the steam helps loosen up any mucus, allowing you to more efficiently evacuate your sinuses.
People have also been using neti pots as a way to clear congestion from their sinuses for thousands of years and continue to use saline nasal washes in traditional medicine today. Originally part of a yoga tradition that dates back 5,000 years, the science behind using a saline solution to clear your nasal passages remains the same. According to a 2008 study by Nanjing Medical University, people who regularly practiced nasal irrigation through a neti pot, used fewer topical steroids when suffering from allergic rhinitis. If you choose to practice nasal irrigation, be sure to test the water temperature as to not burn your nasal passages and only use distilled or sterilized water, never tap water!
If you’ve ever gone to a hospital as a patient, chances are you’ve been the recipient of a saline IV. In traditional medicine, intravenous saline is administered for many different reasons and has many benefits. A simple combination of sterile water and pure sodium chloride, saline IVs work to hydrate your entire body immediately. It is very important for your body to maintain good fluid balances at all times, but especially so when you are dehydrated or undergoing a surgical procedure.
Not only do saline IVs help with hydration, but the sodium contained in the solution provide electrolytes directly to the bloodstream for optimal absorption. Sodium also assists in muscle contraction, which helps the various muscles throughout your body work properly. The chloride portion of the salt helps to maintain a good acid-base balance throughout your body, and a proper pH in your body has been shown to help fight disease.
Adding Epsom salt to a nice hot bath is a great way to relax at the end of the day. However, Epsom salt isn’t real salt! Epsom salt is made up of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen, and doesn’t contain any sodium chloride. So while many people may think about an Epsom salt bath, true salt baths have their own place in traditional medicine.
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, salt can be used to alleviate muscle soreness and joint pain with almost immediate relief. True salt baths can also be very beneficial for patients who suffer from skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, and this wet salt therapy has many of the same regenerative and anti-aging benefits as the dry salt therapy you experience in our Himalayan Salt Cave.
If you want to see for yourself the health benefits of a true salt bath, you can easily practice this at home! To experience a true salt bath, you need to add at least one full cup of salt to an average sized bathtub filled with hot water. For the optimal health benefits, it is recommended to add up to 4 pounds of salt. Needless to say, adding 4 pounds of salt per bath can be expensive, so buying salt in bulk is a preferable option for DIY salt baths. Be sure not to add any kind of shampoos, soaps, or skin care products to the true salt bath, as you don’t want to counteract any of the salt’s benefits. A few drops of essential oil would be the only beneficial addition.
There are many other uses of salt in traditional medicine not listed here. Although salt has been used for centuries for its many health benefits, it is always advised to check with your doctor first before practicing any salt treatments at home.