Unlike our sodium phobic medical community, Ayurveda holds a fairly lofty opinion of salt, which like sour foods, elevates all but the air element. Salt is consequently soothing for people who are nervous. Salt aids digestion and circulation. It also affects the fluids of the body by increasing saliva and diluting phlegm. It opens up blocked channels. In excess, salt causes contraction and can lead to general debility: wrinkles, hyperacidity, high blood pressure, impurities in the blood, itching and burning sensations, inflammation of the lymph glands, gout, heart conditions, impotency, loose teeth, baldness, and darkening of the skin pigmentation.



Salt is considered to be heavy, hot, unctuous, and pungent. Its sharpness stimulates the appetite, changes the consistency of saliva, and softens food. Though Ayurveda considers salt to be hot, its capacity for retaining fluids gives it a fairly balanced fire-water action. Salt's hygroscopic action, the technical term for salt's action on fluids, is soothing and cleansing as salt helps to loosen denser materials that tend to impact and clog the body's vital organs and ducts. In high enough dosages, salt is an emetic (causes vomiting).

It ought to be quite obvious that intake of salt should be curbed when there is excessive thirst. It is also contraindicated where there is any kind of skin disease, where teeth are loose, or where there are signs of premature aging such as graying or balding of the hair.

It should be remembered that all Ayurvedic teachings arose in a time preceding our age of processed, devitalized, and chemically altered foods. Indians think of rock salt and sea salt (and alkaline foods) when they say salt. These forms of salt are often rich in other trace minerals . . . and they are available in health foods stores in the West, too, but, be careful, the taste of these salts is stronger and you will require far less to get your salivary glands going. It is also important to realize that wholesome foods have wonderfully appetizing tastes and require less conjuring to make them appealing to the palate. However, if eating something utterly bland from the freezer, it may take a considerable effort to render such a meal interesting to the taste buds. It is on such occasions that people are prone to dumping ketchup and salt on their food, and this is no doubt quite medically unsound.

Thus, it should be made clear that salt, in moderation, is calming for people who are highly excitable, but, in excess it is harmful to the arteries, just as doctors have warned.


The Salty Taste
Balancing Energy
Balancing Taste


The Pungent Taste


Reprinted from The Elements: Constitutional Type and Temperament by Ingrid Naiman
Copyright 1989 and 1998 by Ingrid Naiman
Revised 2004





Sacred Medicine Sanctuary
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2004

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