Saindhav – The Amazing Himalayan Rock Salt

Saindhav – the Himalayan rock salt, pink salt or Halite has been revered as the most superior among all types of salts (Lavana)  in Ayurveda. Named after its origins in Sindh region (now in Pakistan) i.e. Indus Valley Saindhav belongs to the highest echelon of functional foods in Ayurveda. It was formed about 500 millions of years ago during the Cambrium geological era, when the primordial ocean dried up, leaving pockets of salts sealed inside layers of earth and rock.

Discovered thousands of years ago, Saindhav gained popularity in 325 BC when Alexander The Great noticed it during his battle with King Poras on the banks of river Jhelum in the Punjab region (now in Pakistan). An entire mountain range in this ancient Indian province  was named ‘Salt range’ due to the large deposits of Rock salt found in these mountains. The second largest rock salt mines in the world- the Khewra mines is in the Jhelum district of Punjab which is now a part of Pakistan. It is also the largest source of authentic Saindhav or Himalayan Rock salt.

Saindhav has been extensively used both as a food and medicine in Ayurveda. Sealed inside the earth for thousands of years, saidhava is free from contamination of environmental pollutants and toxins. Like many other principles and practices of Ayuveda, use of Saindhav has also been incorporated in many rituals of Hindu religion in India. Foods consumed during Hindu religious fasting rituals are cooked exclusively with Saindhav. Unlike other salts which promote indulgence and temptation, Saindhav is believed to be dominant in Sattva guna which promotes positive attitude and purity of mind.

Qualities of Saindhav

  • Pacifies All the three doshas
  • Boosts fertility
  • Light to Digest
  • Promotes healthy eyesight
  • Wholesome
  • Promotes Appetite and Digestion

How to Identify Pure Saindhav?
Among many varieties of Rock Salt- saindhav has unique pink hue.  Saindhav has pink hue like rose quartz with blue, purple , brown  lines created by a variety of natural minerals found in it. Some Saindhav crystals can be reddish, off white, colorless or beige in color. Crystals, slabs, tiles, plates, salt lamps etc. made for Himalayan Rock salt/Saindhav are widely popular in culinary as well as holistic health enthusiasts.

Ayurvedic texts have mentioned three varieties of Saindhav-

  • Red
  • White
  • Crystalline

Crystalline Saindhav is ideal for use in therapies. Specialized enemas or Basti therapies like Anuvasana and Niruha contain Saindhav for improving their efficacy.

Healthy Substitute for Table Salt
Replacing table salt with Saindhav is especially beneficial. Unlike plain iodized salt, Saindhav contains about 84 natural minerals which gives food a full bodied flavor as against the flat taste of the table salt. Cooking food on slabs of Saindhav is also gaining popularity due to its unique taste and flavor. Also, due to abundance of many trace minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, sulfur etc. it is also healthier than table salt. Saindhav is alkaline in nature hence helps in balancing the body pH.

Wholesome Food
Saindhav has been emphasized as a wholesome food (and medicine) in many disorders like cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, kidney disorders, asthma, fever and a spectrum of diseases affecting our digestive system by the ancient Ayurveda texts.

Boosting appetite and digestion
A pinch of saindhav taken along with half inch piece of fresh ginger and lemon juice before food stimulates appetite and digestion. Also, common discomforts like bloating, gases, abdominal pain and tendency for constipation are relieved by taking saindhav before food. Those with internal or external piles should take one pinch saindhav with a glass of fresh buttermilk every morning or afternoon. Also, it boosts tissue metabolism hence is healthy for maintaining healthy body weight. Saindhav in food also helps in elimination of toxins by our intestines and colon.

Pregnancy Health
A pinch of Saidhav taken with 1 teaspoon dried Amla (Indian gooseberry) powder can relieve morning sickness, nausea and acidity experienced during pregnancy.

Kidney Health
Researchers at Allahabad University in India have found that saindhav is a healthy choice for patients with kidney disorders. As compared to table salt, saindhav contains less sodium. The ratio of sodium to potassium in saindhav is 38:5which is suitable for maintaining homeostasis of sodium and potassium in kidney disorders. Also, researchers found that aluminum which is toxic for the kidneys is absent in saindhav. Instead it is rich in magnesium- an essential micro-nutrient. 1

Dehydration remedy
Unlike table salt which can cause dehydration due to high sodium content, Saindhav is beneficial in preventing dehydration due to its low sodium and rich mineral electrolyte content. Little saindhav added to a glass of lemonade is an ideal beverage for maintaining optimum hydration during summers.

Aches and Pains
Soaking into a tub of water added with saindhav helps in relieving body ache, muscle spasms, sprains, and tiredness and also in relieving pain of arthritis. Fomentation and hot compress with water and saindhav is ideal for relieving localized aches and pains.

Skin Health
Body scrub made with saindhav helps in exfoliation, rejuvenation of skin, boosts circulation and helps the skin to eliminate toxins more effectively.  The skin looks softer, healthier and a lot younger by regular use of saindhav. Bath with Saindhav also helps in relieving dry and itchy skin of eczema, psoriasis and other similar skin conditions. Also, common skin issues like acne dermatitis etc. are relieved by adding saindhav to bath water and in scrubs and face-packs.

Too much of good is bad
Although saindhav is a healthier choice among salts, its overuse must be avoided. Overuse of this healthy salt can also lead to complications like raised blood pressure and heart disorders. Hence, moderation is a must!

References

  1. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2009-04-29/allahabad/28009067_1_salt-kidney-diseases-kidney-patients

Author:

Having practiced Ayurveda in entirely diverse cultures like India and United States, Dr Chetali Samant has experienced the myriad facets and the true meaning of Ayurvedic Health Care. She has received her master’s degree in Ayurveda (M.D Ayurveda) from Gujarat Ayurveda University- one of the most prestigious universities of Ayurveda in India and the only Ayurveda University in the world. She has been honored with a gold medal for her academic achievements during her postgraduate studies. After specializing in the field of mother and child care, she realized that the health of one family member indeed depends on the health status of every member of the family. Ever since, she has encouraged and educated many families in promoting and maintaining health.

Comments

  1. Saindhav is indeed the only salt which is permitted to be consumed during fasts (in Indian Culture), perhaps to ensure that you do not suffer from dehydration unlike other rock salts!! Thanks for the amazing facts, really helpful!!

  2. James Corner says:

    Really a beautiful article I want more information about this salt. Where I can get this salt, I want to use it.

  3. Himalayan Rock Salt is new to me, interesting facts. Love to read more articles like this one.

  4. Swati Jaiswal says:

    I used this salt many times in life for cooking food while keeping fast but did not know its real name, for me it was know as sendha namak, may be deformed version of the real name, I am very happy to know all the details about this salt…

  5. Great info, thanks for writing it.

  6. Pravin Bidkar says:

    Can we completely replace Saindhav with tata iodized salt (common salt + iodine) ? Any studies done on this line ?
    I have asked this question to many but could not get a clear answer.
    Thanks for your reply.

    • Dr Chetali Samant says:

      Hello Mr. Pravin,

      Thanks for asking this much needed question!
      If you want to include the iodized salt in your diet due to issues related to subclinical or frank iodine deficiency or thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism or goitre (except autoimmune conditions), pregnancy health etc.; than it is definitely a better choice over the Saindhav (due to paucity of iodine in Saindhav). However, if your quest has stemmed from culinary dilemma or nutritional needs (other than the one’s mentioned above related to iodine deficiency) then Saindhav wins hands-down – owing to its complexity and mineral contents.Also, refined salts are often robbed of their mineral content due to extensive processing.Patients of kidney and cardiovascular disorders can opt for Saindhav as a safer choice over the common iodized salt mainly due to its potassium content which helps in maintaining the Na: K balance in our body.
      As John Barron at the Baseline Health Foundation puts it, “Refined salt contains anti-caking agents such as ferrocyanide, yellow prussiate of soda, tricalcium phosphate, alumine-calcium silicate, sodium aluminosilicate etc. All work by preventing the salt from mixing with water, both inside the box and inside the human body. This prevents the salt from doing one of its important functions in the organism: regulating hydration.”
      I haven’t come across a clincial/pharmacological study which compares the health benefits of both these salts. However, chemical analysis and clincial studies for health benefits of Saindhav in cardiovascular and kidney disorders are available.

      Thanks and Regards,
      Dr. Samant

      • Pravin Bidkar says:

        Thanks Dr. Samant,

        My wife had hypothyroidism in 1989 which was gone in about 6 months or so. We had done regular tests T3 / T4 etc. back then and the results were normal. A recent test done 4 months back is also normal. She is not on any pill for thyroid issues since 1989. So my issue is if we completely switch to saindhav then can her body get the required iodine from say guava which we try to eat regularly (once a week or so).
        Our family Dr. had suggested 50 – 50% Salt – saindhav.
        So we use salt in cooking but use saindhav while eating as and when we need it for taste.
        My observation here is if I add X gms of salt to say rice while eating, instead I have to add 1.5X to 2X gm
        of saindhav to get the same taste for rice.
        So will this extra gm of saindhav not increase sodium content in body equal to that of what we get from
        salt ? I am trying to train my self slowly to eat food with as low salt (any) as possible and not look at the taste aspect.

        Thanks again.
        Regards,
        Pravin Bidkar

  7. falguni says:

    is there any disadvantages of Saindhav on behalf of using more quantity during fast time???

    • Dr Chetali Samant says:

      Good question…like all salts..excess intake should be avoided even during fast. Too much of it can make you dehydrated like most other salts. Also, all teh slats when take in large amounts can speed up our body’s aging processes!

  8. Parthiv Mehta says:

    Dear Friends,

    I am from India Mumbai/Bombay.
    Pl suggest original Sindhav Salt for my 1.5Yr old kid.

    Regards

  9. Parthiv Mehta says:

    Also from where to buy , shop/brand etc
    regards

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