Salt makes every recipe tasty. It is being used from ages to enhance the taste, flavor and texture of food. Salt is used as a preservative in every part of world. Salt is an essential nutrient.
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Salt and Salt Taste in Ayurveda
According to principles of ayurveda, salt or salty tasting foods increase moistness in mouth by increasing salivation. When we consume salt, we feel as if our cheeks and throat are burning.
Properties of salt is described as लुनति इति लवणं which means , it has a sharp piercing knife like qualities. Presence of water element makes it heavy , moistening and balances Vata dosha. But the water element increases kapha dosha. The fire element in lavana rasa imparts hot quality and increases pitta dosha.
How Salt Affects our Body Functions ?
It gets quickly dissolved in body fluids and distributed throughout body. It moistens tissues and softens them. Taste buds get stimulated by salt and this improves sense of taste. It may slightly produce burning sensation in mouth . Lavana Rasa cuts and breaks down particles during metabolism and helps vitiated doshas to move towards lower part of digestive tract. It also liquifies thick kapha and helps to move this off respiratory tract through expectoration. Usually all salts act as appetisers and improve digestion.
Importance of Salt in Ayurvedic Treatment
Lavana Rasa or salty ayurvedic preparations relieve rigidity, clears the obstructions of the micro channels and pores, increases digestive activity, improves taste, lubricates joints and tissues, stimulates sweating and penetrates deep seated tissues.
Such salty ayurvedic preparations are mainly used in panchakarma or detox treatments like Basti and nasya karma.These preparations are also administered to relieve acidity, constipation, productive cough and diseases where vata is predominant.
What Happens when you consume salt in excess ?
As said earlier it imbalances and increases Pitta dosha and Kapha Dosha. Generally salts are very bad for the health of eyes except Saindhava lavana or sendha namak or Rock Salt. When consumption exceeds limits it vitiates blood and Vata, causes baldness, premature greying of hair, wrinkles of the skin, thirst, skin diseases, effect of poison and decrease of strength of the body.
When salt is consumed more than required quantity, it increases thirst, vitiates blood (rakta) and increases its volume. Even vata gets vitiated by increased salt consumption and this can lead to fainting, burning sensation, degeneration of tissues and muscles (mamsa dhatu ). This also causes baldness, hair loss, premature graying, early ageing and skin wrinkles. It lowers body immunity and leads to herpes (herpes, genital herpes or oral herpes) outbreaks. Increased salt in diet may flare up skin problems like psoriasis, eczema, acne and pimples. Apart from these it causes inflammation of body tissues, loss of teeth, infertility, erectile dysfunction, increased uric acid level and gout.
Who Should not Eat More Salt ?
Persons suffering from Hypertension or high blood pressure, gastric erosions, body oedema and in fever should not consume excess salt. While taking meals you first you have to eat a little bit of sweet tasting food ( madhura rasa ), followed by sour foods ( amla rasa) and salt foods.
Lavana Panchaka or 5 Major Salts in Ayurveda
Ayurveda recommends to use 5 types of salts . Here is the list of 5 salts in chronological order of their benefits and importance.
1. Saindhava Lavana – Rock salt
2. Souvarchala Lavana – Sochal salt or black salt (Sodium chloride with traces of Sodium sulphide, Sodium sulphate etc)
3. Bida / Vida Lavana – A type of black salt / Sodium sulphate
4. Samurda Lavana – Common salt (Sodium Chloride)
5. Romaka / Sambhara Lavana – Earthen salt.
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