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