Pink salt is everywhere: in salt grinders, craggy-looking lamps, sunset-hued slabs designed for cooking steak and even in “salt rooms” at spas. But is pink Himalayan salt worth all the attention? We checked out the science behind this recent health phenomenon.
The thing: Pink Himalayan salt is made from rock crystals of salt that have been mined from areas close to the Himalayas, often in Pakistan. It gets its rosy hue from trace minerals in the salt, like magnesium, potassium and calcium. Pink salt is often found as smaller crystals in salt grinders, as large, glowing pink or orange chunks in pink Himalayan salt lamps and in the walls of “salt chambers” at spas that promise an instant detox.
The hype: People claim the salt does all kinds of things. It’s rumored to be healthier for its greater concentration of trace elements. In lamp form, companies claim that it eases symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), increases energy and improves sleep by cleansing the air from pollutants like dust and pollen. It supposedly does this by absorbing water molecules from the air and releasing negative air ions, which are said to get rid of particles like dust that can cause respiratory problems, like allergies and asthma, and affect mood. Spas have also jumped on these claims to offer Himalayan salt-based therapies, where people sit in rooms and breathe deeply while tiny particles of salt are dispersed into the surrounding areas, ostensibly easing respiratory conditions.
“Marketers tout their supposed ability to release negative ions that may enhance physical and emotional health,” says Dr. Andy Weil, the founder and program director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. This is based on the idea that air near moving water contains high levels of negative ions, which some researchers have suggested is one reason why spending time in nature has been linked to health benefits. Whether a man-made product can produce the same effect, however, is more dubious.
Rock salt or sendha namak, as it is popularly known, is a favourite of those fasting during the auspicious days of Navratri. This is the only type of 'salt' consumed during these nine days. Rock salt is the purest form of salt - unprocessed and raw, devoid of environmental pollutants and chemical components. "It contains 84 out of the 92 trace elements required by the body including potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, copper and so on. It's a superior salt, according to Ayurveda,” says Dr. Ashutosh Gautam, Clinical Operations and Coordination Manager at Baidyanath. Contrary to popular belief, rock salt is not kala namak. “It is actually known as sendha namak in Hindi, and is a highly crystalline salt. It is made by evaporating sea water and does not contain high amounts of sodium chloride (unlike table salt)”, says Dr. Anju Sood, Bangalore-based Nutritionist. It is used during Navratri across North India as a fasting ritual. It facilitates the cellular absorption of minerals, and plays an important role in replenishing the body’s electrolytes and maintaining the pH balance.
According to Ayurvedic physician and American author, Vasant Lad, rock salt is cooling rather than heating and is far more balancing for pitta, in comparison to other forms of salt. Its mildness and diverse mineral content helps minimise the potential hazards of excess salt.
1. Improves Digestion
2. Boosts Metabolism
3. Stabilises Blood Pressure
4. Boosts Immunity
5. Treats Sinus
6. Promotes Weight Loss
7. Promotes Sleep
8. Reduces Stress
9. Purifies Air
10. Promotes Healthy Skin
11. Reduces Edema
12. Exfoliates Skin
13. Used as a Bath Salt or Body Scrub
14. Promotes Healthy Hair