Unrefined Salt is part of The Iodine Protocol. Dr. Brownstein recommends 1/2 teaspoon of unrefined salt per day. A commonly recommended type of salt is Grey Celtic.
If someone is under the impression that salt is bad for health, they may want to read the book Salt Your Way to Health to gain a better idea how important quality salt can be, especially while detox and healing. This video The Importance of Salt & Water, by Barbara O’Neill is pretty informative as well.
Several doctors and iodine advocates like the idea of using a lot of salt-loading to keep up with detox and hydration. I think our body prefers pure water, and our sodium intake with food. I salt my food heavily, and drink pure spring water. If I ever feel symptoms that cause me to try a salt-load, and I feel benefits, I increase my intake of salt via food. There is some information about electrolytes damaging liver and kidney cells in order to increase hydration1. Because of this, I assume my body would prefer to absorb salt slower with food vs large doses with water all the time. I only noticed salt-loading help my symptoms a handful of times, but I think keeping up with my salt intake on food allowed me to keep up with the bromine I was knocking loose as I went slow with iodine.
Sodium deficiency symptoms include
- Fatigue or low energy
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle cramps or spasms
- Altered personality
- Decreased consciousness
So, salt is.. good?
Humans sweat, cry, bleed, and urinate salty substances. Our cells use sodium to access their fuel. “Worth your weight in salt” is a phrase originating from the ancient Romans, who understood the value of salt.
Being so valuable, soldiers in the Roman army were sometimes paid with salt instead of money. Their monthly allowance was called “salarium” (“sal” being the Latin word for salt). This Latin root can be recognized in the French word “salaire” — and it eventually made it into the English language as the word “salary.” 2
Unrefined salt supplies our body with over 75 nutrients. Our cells need it to eventually be able to expel toxins via potassium in order to properly generate energy. It helps us sleep and prevents muscle cramps.
- Our cells depend on sodium to run the sodium-glucose pump in order to access to their fuel, glucose. 3 When glucose is unable to enter our cells and therefor remains elevated in our blood, we refer to the situation as diabetes. 4
- Low enough sodium levels can contribute to brain-fog, fatigue, weakness and various other issues. As we detox and heal, our cells most likely increase their glucose intake, which requires the use of more sodium.
- In a proper balance with potassium, salt helps regulate blood pressure, which helps regulate heartbeat5
- Clear congestion in the lungs and nasal passages 6
- Low salt intake increases risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack. About 3600 people were monitored for an average of 8 years. Cardiovascular related deaths were less from people with higher sodium intake. 78
- Short-term dietary sodium restriction increased serum lipids, insulin and LDL-cholesterol 9
A great hour long video from Barbara O’neill. The rest of her videos are gold-mines as well
Which unrefined salt is best?
Grey Celtic Salt
I believe Grey Celtic Salt is the best, I get 5 pounds at a time for less than $20 but I use it for fermenting so I go through it quicker than most probably would. This usually comes in a very coarse size salt grain, I just sprinkle the large pieces on my food. I love hitting salt pockets in my meals due to these large but spaced out grains of salt. It’s different than fine grain salt because we taste the non salted food at first, and then pop open a pocket of salt where we can taste the food at various levels of saltiness. It is possible to grind this, but Celtic salt tends to stay wet due to it’s high magnesium content. I’ve placed about 1 cup of Celtic salt in a pan on low heat for about 10-15 minutes to dry it out and then I run it through a grinder to add it to a salt shaker. A meat tenderizer and a cutting board can work as well but is kind of messy.
Redmond Real Salt
A lot of people swear by Redmond Real Salt which is just another brand/type of unrefined sea salt. I haven’t done solid math in this but I feel like this one is too expensive.
Pink Himalayan Salt
I use to be a huge fan of the Pink Himalayan salt but I came across information saying this stuff might be contaminated with residue from the dynamite used in its mining process. It may also have high natural fluoride levels. I may continue using this anyway, but I have stopped using it for ferments or anything requiring a lot of salt. It’s pink color is due to oxidized iron, which probably isn’t great to consume all the time, especially if we have issues maintaining our iron properly.
Black Himalayan Salt
If you are a salt lover, you must check out Black Himalayan Salt which has some amazing flavor. Apparently, it is Himalayan salt cooked down with certain herbs, which produces a unique sulfur. This sulfur adds flavor to just about anything it’s consumed with and may also provide some extra healing benefits. There are stories of Shamans using it to help people’s eyesight. I noticed it help my eyes when I started consuming it. I was having a hard time keeping my eyes focused by the end of the day and this pretty much made that go away. Plus I like to get different types of sulfur as I work on removing my mercury. Mercury clinging to eye muscles may have to do with some eye issues, and may be why this salt is related to helping vision. Warning, it smells and tastes like rotten eggs. That is the point of it though, check out the 1 star comments for some interesting descriptions.
I have a course ground version of this sitting on my desk. I place a few pieces under my tongue throughout the day and then munch on it almost like a snack. A big part of my journey detoxing mercury has been locating various forms of sulfur, so this form of salt has become a staple for me. https://amzn.to/3zhACf4
I also use a fine ground version of it in a salt shaker. Adding this to food really brings out the flavor. It also causes my wife to go “did you fart?” every single time I sprinkle it on my food. I originally purchased 1lb of this fine ground which lasted at least a year, but it is no longer in stock so I had to purchase the 5lb bag. https://amzn.to/3wfeGz5 The brand I mentioned for the course grind has a fine grind for sale but I have not tried it. This type of salt is a touch gritty, so the dust-like fine ground of the 1-5lb bag I purchase is pretty handy.
Avoid just about anything else, especially things like ‘black volcanic salt’ which is just salt and activated carbon. Consuming activated carbon regularly is not a good idea as it might strip away beneficial minerals.
What about table salt?
Natural, unrefined salt has with it trace amounts of around 80 minerals. Then there is the chemical formula NaCl, Sodium Chloride. These raw elements are different than natural salt because it’s refined down to basic components. This refined version is what we call table salt. If you’ve ever heard of salt increasing blood pressure, the studies used to make this claim used this refined NaCl. Without the extra nutrients of unrefined salt, we can’t buffer the salt properly and slow it down, which explains it’s ability to elevate BP. This is similar to refined sugar vs natural sugar found in things like fruit that also contain fiber to slow it down.
Table salt usually tends to have a little iodine added which is then called iodized salt. But, the iodine used for this salt is most likely a byproduct of other processes(you don’t expect them to buy expensive pure iodine in order to make cheap salt, do you), which may have toxicities left over. Another issue is the fact that iodine evaporates very easily at rather low temperatures. By the time we consume table salt, it has been exposed to enough time and temperature that the majority of the iodine is most likely evaporated.
Even if this form of salt were ok to consume, we would need an unhealthy amount of it to get a decent amount of iodine. It’s estimated that each gram of table salt contains 45mcg of iodine(before evaopration). A gram of salt is about 1/4 teaspoon. So an entire teaspoon of refined NaCl would only contain less than 200mcg. Meanwhile a single drop of Lugols 2% contains about 2,500mcg.
Lugols is commonly recommended for healing because it contains two important forms of iodine. Only a single form of iodine, potassium iodide, is added to table salt.
A much better option for small amounts of iodine would be through kelp. There is a common misconception that kelp should be avoided due to toxicity, but we may not want to forget that we live on an extremely toxic planet. We may not want to avoid a healthy substance that may be less toxic than a lot of substances we are exposed to frequently when it is sourced properly. Read more about kelp at https://whyiodine.com/kelp.
To keep table salt from sticking together or absorbing too much moisture, things like aluminum silicate, corn sugar, silicon dioxide and calcium silicate are added.
What about blood pressure?
Salt is an important part of health. If we cannot consume salt without running into issues with blood pressure, we may want to see if this is something we can figure out how to resolve. Without salt, our cells don’t have access to the energy they need. Dr. Brownstein wrote a great book on this subject called Salt Your Way to Health.
This is a great video by Barbara O’Neill called The Importance of Salt & Water which helps explain how important salt is to health.
Some science on the topic
When sodium intake is high, the aldosterone level decreases and urinary sodium increases. When dietary sodium intake is low, the aldosterone level increases and urinary excretion of sodium rapidly falls almost to zero. 10
High aldosterone levels can cause high blood pressure and low potassium levels. 11
What if I don’t like salt?
I love salt, but over the years as I’ve handled different phases of detox, diets and amounts of salt intake, I’ve noticed times that I do not enjoy it as much, or it would irritate the roof of my mouth or stomach. Several times this was just a type of alarm trying to tell me I’m dehydrated, so increasing my water intake helped me enjoy salt again. Sometimes I have to switch the type of water I’m drinking, either try a filter, stop using a filter, or switching brands of spring water for a week or so.
Sometimes salt makes me realize I need more electrolytes. I’m not a fan of the adrenal cocktail due to it’s ingredients, so I use a quality electrolyte like this one from Dr. Ben Lynch at Seeking Health. There is a common alternative to electrolytes recommendation in some of the health groups called an Adrenal Cocktail which has issues with a few potential ingredients. I don’t like orange juice for several reasons, I don’t like drinking salt, and cream of tartar is a byproduct of wine production which means it contains sulfites, a common allergen with connections to several health ailments.
- ISOTONICITY OF LIVER AND OF KIDNEY TISSUE IN SOLUTIONS OF ELECTROLYTES – J Exp Med. 1959 Jul 1; 110(1): 103–111. doi: 10.1084/jem.110.1.103 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2136967/
- From Salt To Salary: Linguists Take A Page From Science – https://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2014/11/08/362478685/from-salt-to-salary-linguists-take-a-page-from-science
- The Role of Intraluminal Sodium in Glucose Absorption In Vivo https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC302201/
- Glucose Regulation and Utilization in the Body – https://media.lanecc.edu/users/powellt/FN225OER/Carbohydrates/FN225Carbohydrates5.html
- Salt, potassium and the control of blood pressure – The European Food Information Council https://www.eufic.org/en/food-today/article/salt-potassium-and-the-control-of-blood-pressure
- Saline Nasal Irrigation for Upper Respiratory Conditions – Am Fam Physician. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2009 Nov 17. Published in final edited form as: Am Fam Physician. 2009 Nov 15; 80(10): 1117–1119. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2778074/
- Fatal and Nonfatal Outcomes, Incidence of Hypertension, and Blood Pressure Changes in Relation to Urinary Sodium Excretion – Journal of the American Medial Association (May 4, 2011. Vol. 305, N. 17) – https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/899663
- Low urinary sodium is associated with greater risk of myocardial infarction among treated hypertensive men – Hypertension. 1995 Jun;25(6):1144-52. doi: 10.1161/01.hyp.25.6.1144. – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7768554/
- Short-term dietary sodium restriction increases serum lipids and insulin in salt-sensitive and salt-resistant normotensive adults – Clinical Trial Klin Wochenschr. 1991;69 Suppl 25:51-7. – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1921253/
- Recommended Dietary Allowances: 10th Edition. Chapter 11 water and electrolytes – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK234935/
- Hyperaldosteronism – https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/adrenal-gland-disorders/hyperaldosteronism