Rock salt is called Saindhava lavana in Sanskrit. It is another name for Himalayan pink salt. The name “saindhav” is derived from the sanskrit name of the river Indus – Sindhu. Therefore the salt that is found in the Indus region was called saindhav lavana. It is also called pink salt as the salt crystals are slightly pink in colour.
There are 5 types of salts in Ayurveda – Saindhav, sauvarchala, vida, udbhija and kala lavana. Out of these 5, Saindhava lavana is considered to be the best.
Features of Saindhava lavana
Ruchikaraka – Saindhava lavana, like all salts, stimulates the taste buds and salivary glands. Thus it helps to moisten the food properly in the mouth.
Agnivardhana – It stimulates preparation and secretion of the digestive enzymes. As salts produce free acidic and basic ions when dissolved in water, they help to disintegrate the food in the alimentary canal. Thus they aid the digestion (agni).
Vrishya – Saindhava lavana is the only salt that can increase potency when consumed in proper amount. However, it is important to note that habitual excess consumption of salt, even saindhava lavana, can cause impotency in the long run.
Netrahitakara – Saindhava lavana is the only variety of salt which is described as beneficial for eyes. Salt helps to purify the secretions of the eye. Salt is a natural reliever of mucus. Saindhava lavana prevents heaviness, numbness and itchiness in the eyes. However, salt should never be used for direct application on the eyes. Only orally consumed salt is beneficial for eyes and rest of the body.
Avidahi – Regular consumption of other salts or salty foods can cause inflammation, and inflammatory conditions like peptic ulcers. This can make body more susceptible to fever and inflammatory autoimmune response. However, these problems can be averted by using saindhava lavana for daily use in the cooking, instead of any other kind of salt.
Tridoshanashaka – Salt or salty foods can cause vitiation of pitta dosha. In the long run, excess salt consumption can vitiate all 3 doshas. But regular limited consumption of saindhava lavana does not cause any kind of problems in the body. In fact, saindhava lavana helps to balance all the 3 dosha. Therefore, it is recommended for daily consumption by Acharya Charak.
Madhura – Saindhava lavana is the only salt that is sweet. This means that it has a mild taste. As a parallel to Ayurvedic concept of digestion, it is assumed that madhura rasa produces sugars in the body after digestion; amla rasa produces peptic acids and katu, tikta and kashaya rasa produce fatty acids at the end of the digestive process. According to this hypothesis, saindhava lavana is supposed to be the only salt that produces sugars at the end of the digestion and not acids like other salts. It might also mean that the free ions produced by saindhava lavana are less harsh and less in number as compared to the table salt. Therefore, it is much milder as compared to the normal table salt.
For all the above reasons, saindhava lavana is considered to be the best of all salts and thus it is recommended for daily consumption. In Hindu fasting traditions, saindhava lavana is the only salt that can be used. Use of any other type of salt is considered to corrupt the fast. Hindu festivals and fasting rituals are normally Ayurvedic health practices, molded in the form of religious traditions, so that it gets easier for the crowd to follow them. However, with the above knowledge, we can embrace the saindhava lavana as a source of health, without any social or religious factor.
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