We’ve all heard about the perils of too much salt in our diets, but what often gets overlooked is the risk of having too little—or the many health benefits of salt water itself.
The ocean contains vital elements, vitamins and minerals like magnesium that can be easily absorbed by your body when swimming or inhaling sea water mist. Swimming in salt water is said to open your pores and allow the sea minerals in. In fact, thalassotherapy is the medical term for using sea water as a form of treatment and is commonly practised in the Dead Sea area of the world.
Sea water is rich in magnesium and according to research, this mineral is essential in preventing blood clots, easing stress, improving sleep and concentration, as well as reducing inflammation to relieve muscle cramps. But according to Dr. Carolyn Dean, a Canadian physician, naturopath and author of The Magnesium Miracle, most people aren’t getting the recommended 350-450 milligrams of magnesium daily. She points to potential signs of magnesium deficiency such as anxiety, migraines, insomnia, muscle twitching, sluggish bowels and even tooth decay.
Salt water too has long been lauded for its benefits in treating the common cold. Gargling with warm salt water is said to draw out excess fluid from the throat’s inflamed tissue while using a saline solution in the nose has been proven to improve nasal discharge, congestion, sneezing and itching.
Naturopaths often point to the benefits of sea salt in helping digestion by stimulating the salivary glands and helping your body create digestive juices. Salt also prevents build up in the digestive tract, thus preventing constipation. On the other hand, fluids that contain sodium are also necessary when you have diarrhea to prevent dehydration.
But the advantages aren’t only internal. Salt water is a commonly used skin cleanser, said to rejuvenate the skin by detoxifying and promoting cell growth. If you have dry, itchy skin due to eczema, psoriasis or acne, research has shown that swimming in salt water may help curb symptoms and eventually aid in improving your condition.
Healing in the salt cave?
While their therapeutic benefits aren’t widely proven yet, salt caves are popping up in spas and wellness centres across the country. The floor, walls and ceiling of these caves are typically covered in fine crystal salt—the pink Himalayan variety is a popular choice—and patrons sit in relaxed positions in a comfortable temperature to absorb the benefits. The dry aerosol salt particles in this sterile and allergy-free room are said to relieve congested airways, coughs and other respiratory issues as well as improve sleeping. In fact, one Russian study showed that a controlled halochamber microclimate (as is produced through a salt cave) does positively affect the respiratory tract in addition to having an effect on your cardiovascular system and mental state.