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Rock salt or sendha namak, as it is popularly known, is a favourite of those fasting during the auspicious days of Navratri. This is the only type of 'salt' consumed during these nine days. Rock salt is the purest form of salt - unprocessed and raw, devoid of environmental pollutants and chemical components. "It contains 84 out of the 92 trace elements required by the body including potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, copper and so on. It's a superior salt, according to Ayurveda,” says Dr. Ashutosh Gautam, Clinical Operations and Coordination Manager at Baidyanath. ”
Contrary to popular belief, rock salt is not kala namak. “It is actually known as sendha namak in Hindi, and is a highly crystalline salt. It is made by evaporating sea water and does not contain high amounts of sodium chloride (unlike table salt)”, says Dr. Anju Sood, Bangalore-based Nutritionist. It is used during Navratri across North India as a fasting ritual. It facilitates the cellular absorption of minerals, and plays an important role in replenishing the body’s electrolytes and maintaining the pH balance.
According to Ayurvedic physician and American author, Vasant Lad, rock salt is cooling rather than heating and is far more balancing for pitta, in comparison to other forms of salt. Its mildness and diverse mineral content helps minimise the potential hazards of excess salt.
1. Improves Digestion
According to Dr. Vasant Lad, rock salt improves digestion and is a natural way to relieve stomach pain. You can add a few crystals of rock salt and fresh mint leaves to a glass of lassi and reap the benefits. Dr. Anju Sood says, “Rock salt can also be used to cure stomach infections, and aids in deworming as well”.
(Also Read: Fasting Foods Which Healthy And Unhealthy For You)
2. Boosts Metabolism
"Rock salt can be used to stimulate your body’s metabolism, and ultimately improve the functioning of your body,” says Dr. Manoj Ahuja, Fortis Hospital.
3. Stabilises Blood Pressure
Dr. Anju Sood says, “Rock salt helps stabilise blood pressure by maintaining a balance of high and low blood pressures. For people with hypertension, It is a better alternative to table salt as it is high on potassium."
4. Boosts Immunity
“Rock salt provides all the essential trace minerals and greatly improves the body’s immune system. ,” adds Dr. Sood. It fights harmful bacteria and helps kick illnesses to the curb.
5. Treats Sinus
“Rock salt is beneficial for people suffering from respiratory problems and sinus,” adds Dr. Ahuja. Gargling with rock salt provides relief against sore throat, dry cough and tonsils, or dissolve rock salt in water and inhale steam.
6. Promotes Weight Loss
Dr. Anju Sood says, “Rock salt reduces sugar cravings by reactivating insulin, and hence results in weight loss”.
7. Promotes Sleep
Can’t fall asleep? Here’s rock salt to your rescue. “Rock salt regulates the level of melatonin and thus, regulates our sleep cycle,” says Dr. Ahuja.
“Rock salt helps to relax the body and mind,” says Dr. Ashutosh Gautam. To treat and manage stress and anxiety, mix a tablespoon of rock salt in water and take a relaxing bath.
9. Purifies Air
“Rock salt crystal products tend to reduce airborne irritants, pathogens and allergens by pulling water vapour out of the air. Himalayan pink salt is a natural ionic air purifier that pulls toxins from the environment and neutralises them," says Dr. Ahuja, Fortis Hospital. Just adding a salt lamp in your room or near your desk at the office does the trick.
10. Promotes Healthy Skin
“Rock salt is great for cleansing the skin and getting rid of clogged pores,” says Dr. Ashutosh Gautam. When used externally, it draws toxins out of the body. Mix a tablespoon of rock salt with your usual cleanser and use as a face wash . Really, it’s that simple!
11. Reduces Edema
Edema is basically swelling caused by fluid retention i.e. when excess fluid is trapped in the body's tissues. Dr. Ashutosh Gautam suggests, “Soak your feet in a bucket of water with rock salt to get rid of swelling and inflammation.”
12. Exfoliates Skin
Accumulation of dead skin cells results in dull, rough and ageing skin. “Use rock salt to exfoliate your skin and get rid of dead skin,” says Dr. Anju Sood.
“Rock salt can be used as a bath or body salt,” says Dr. Ashutosh Gautam. It is a perfect substitute of spa standard products as it relaxes your muscles and improves your sleep. Mix a tablespoon of rock salt in water and take a relaxing bath. "You can make a body scrub by mixing rock salt with honey or with lemon” and massage your skin with it, to get the glow you’ve always wanted.
14. Promotes Healthy Hair
Rock salt removes the dirt from your hair without stripping it off its natural healthy oils. Just mix it in your usual shampoo and wash your hair with it. Rinse with cold water to remove the residue.
India’s leading beauty expert Suparna Trikha says, “Bleeding gums can be really painful and embarrassing. Mix 1 teaspoon of rock salt, triphala powder and neem powder. Use a pinch at a time to massage the gums and rinse with water for quick relief.”
Now that you now the many benefits of sendha namak, go ahead and give it a try yourself.