Salt gets a bad rap. When visiting home, your mom might give you the side eye for shaking too much over your potatoes or you may feel a twinge of guilt when you opt for the salted almonds over the natural ones. But take the food out of the equation (though it’s actually beneficial to incorporate quality salt in your diet), and salt should be exalted for its healing powers.
In fact, for centuries, it has. One of the first Chinese pharmacological manuscripts has pages dedicated to salt, the ancient Greeks soaked in salt baths and Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used sea water to cure aching muscles and arthritic pain. It’s also quite likely your grandmother had a trusty box of Epsom salt in her bathroom right next to her Pond’s Cold Cream.
Salt is detoxifying, healing and cleansing at once. Around six percent of our body composition is made up of mineral salts, but often we’re deficient, so incorporating it into our regimens can bring us back to a more balanced state. It’s also great for skin — you may think it would be drying, but it actually locks moisture in.
But not all salt is created equal, you reap these benefits from the natural variety. Though adorable, your table salt with the girl and the umbrella on the label, not so much.
There’s a reason people travel from all over the world to have a float in the Dead Sea (there’s so much salt in the water, your body will literally float). It’s rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and bromide, that’ll leave your skin incomparably soft. It can also improve circulation and decrease inflammation. If you can’t make it to the Middle East, there are plenty of beauty products that incorporate Dead Sea salt, as well as natural salts from coastal regions of France, South Africa, Ireland and the United States.
Himalayan salt, which is often referred to as "Pink Gold" for its salmon-like hue, is another power player. And of course, Epsom salt, known for its ability to soothe muscle pain. Soaking in an Epsom salt bath can relieve stress, improve muscle and nerve function, reduce inflammation and improve oxygen use in the body
As noted, this is not new information, but the wellness community’s interest in salt has piqued in the last few years. Utilizing salt, wet or dry, has become a practice de rigueur, and not just in salt sprays (nothing gets beachy waves quite like sea salt) and bath soaks. Places like Breathin New York City, offer halotherapy, where you simply sit — or take yoga, chakra healing or meditation classes — in a room lined with pink Himalayan salt as a way to relax and detoxify. Studies show that salt’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can also improve respiratory conditions from asthma to the sniffles.
Sensory deprivation tanks are also having a moment, offering not simply body-altering, but a mind altering experience. At places like Floatworks in London you can lie in a tank of water saturated with so much Epsom salt you become completely buoyant, like in the Dead Sea, but without the sunshine. It’s completely dark and silent — some say you feel like you’re floating in space, some say it brings you back to the womb. Either way, it’s supposed to relax muscles, de-stress and help with more serious conditions like insomnia, chronic pain and depression. Not your cup of tea? There’s always the DIY at-home salt bath option.
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