by Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt
Sea salt is vital to our lives.
In many ways, sea salt is a medicine. Salt is the strongest alkaline forming mineral. Along with other minerals it helps to create a strong resistance against infectious diseases, by keeping the blood slightly alkaline.
Salt can remedy many diseases that are due to an overly acidic condition. This is extremely important when considering the acidic effects of most modern foods, such as refined flour, sugar, and processed meat. People reach instinctively for salt to help balance these acidic forming foods. However, it is too strong a medicine to be misused in this way, because too much salt can make the body hold onto fats, cause cardiovascular diseases, kidney and stomach problems, headaches, and hypertension. Mentally, the over use of salt can make us feel inflexible, tight and narrow-minded, as if emotions become sharp and hard as salt crystals.
Salt stimulates the kidneys to do their job well, however, too much salt will require the body to take in more liquids. One of the kidneys' main functions is to cleanse the waste from the blood. If too much water is ingested, the kidneys main job becomes eliminating excess water and salt from the body. The toxins in the body then begin to build up. At this time, signs of an over-worked bladder and kidneys begin to appear, such as aching of the muscles, skin diseases and inflammation or pain in the lower back.
Strangely enough, conditions similar to eating too much salt can be created when salt is eliminated from the diet. The kidneys, in their role of regulating the body's salt balance, produce a hormone which contracts the blood veins. This contraction causes excess stress on the heart and increases the blood pressure, and the body becomes tighter. These symptoms are normally associated with the use of too much salt. The kidneys then discharge very little urine, in an attempt to hold onto the body's salt supply, creating water retention in the tissues, similar to symptoms of excess salt.
Traditional Ayurvedic medicine uses sea salt as an aid to digestion. The trace minerals in sea salt aid in the functioning of enzymes, and the breaking down of foods in the metabolism. Salt aids in the production of bile to break down fats, forms digestive juices in the stomach, stimulates the intestinal muscles, as well as the saliva production in the mouth.
However salt in its raw state is difficult for the body to handle. It is much better for the body to assimilate salt when it is combined with other ingredients during cooking, or in seasonings. In this way the salt becomes easier to absorb , and is carried- along with the other nutrients deep into the inter-cellular fluids, where it helps these fluids to stay slightly alkaline, and promote healthy well functioning body cells.
One of the traditional ways to eat salt in the orient is to season with tamari and miso or combine sea salt with sesame seeds in a condiment such as gomasio.
Gomasio, or roasted sesame salt, is a salty slightly salty/bitter condiment. It is a much healthier way to add salt to foods at the table than the common way of sprinkling the meal with salt and pepper. Gomasio is particularly delicious on grains and vegetables. It is prepared by crushing sesame seeds together with sea salt so that the salt is well coated with the oil from the seeds. In this manner the oil buffers the effect of the salt in the digestive system, and enables it to be absorbed safely in the body. The proportions are usually 1:10 or 1:16, sea salt to sesame seeds.
1 cup sesame seeds
1 Tbsp sea salt
Clean and rinse the seeds. Let them drain while roasting the salt on a dry skillet for a few minutes. Place the salt in a mortar or suribachi and grind until fine. Roast the seeds in a dry skillet until golden. They will give off a strong, delicious roasted aroma. Add the seeds to the salt and grind them together until the seeds are 50-70% crushed, using a gentle, rotating motion. Make sure the gomasio is cool before storing it in a jar with an airtight lid. Use gomasio as a condiment on grain and vegetable dishes.
• Variation: Instead of sea salt, use roasted miso and dried, finely crushed herbs.
Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt is a Waldorf class and kindergarten teacher, biodynamic farmer, author and nutritional counselor. She has taught nutritional cooking and counseled for 25 years in her homeland Denmark, Europe and the United States.
She trained as a macrobiotic cooking teacher and counselor and studied the principles of oriental medicine and the research of Dr. Weston A. Price before embracing the anthroposophical approach to nutrition, food and cooking.
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by Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt
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