Let us learn in detail about salt taste, what are the general qualities of substances having salt taste, how it affects health, mind, Tridosha and diseases, adverse effects on excessive intake etc.
Word derivation – Nirukti –
Lunati iti lavanam – the substance having piercing and cutting nature.
Effect of salt taste on Tridosha –
Salt taste decreases Vata. It increases Pitta and Kapha Dosha.
Qualities of Lavana rasa –
नात्यर्थं गुरुः स्निग्ध उष्णश्च – It is not too heavy, hot and oily.
There are different opinions regarding basic element composition of salt taste.
It is composed of
Earth and fire as per Sushruta
Water and Fire as per Charaka and Vagbhata and
Fire and water as per Nagarjuna.
Water and fire composition theory is widely accepted one. (Earth and water = amla rasa)
Because of water element, it is heavy and unctuous. Because of fire, it has hot quality.
Because of its fire element, it increases Pitta Dosha.
Because of its water (heaviness), it balances Vata and increases Kapha.
Effect of Salt taste on body and mind –
Ashuvilayana – It melts and gets distributed in the body very quickly.
Kledana – It imparts moistness to the body.
Mardavakara – It imparts softness to the body.
Rochana – It improves taste
Chedana – has excising effect, breaks down particles
Vikaarasya adhaha sramsyavakaashakara – causes movement of Doshas in downward direction
Mukha vidahakara – causes slight burning sensation in mouth.
Kapha praseka janaka – liquefies Kapha Dosha
Kapha Nissaraka – breaks down Kapha and causes its movement / excretion
Deepana – increases digestion strength
Pachana – carminative
Bhedana – causes break down of particles
As per Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 1st chapter, all types of Salts are –
Snigdha – unctuous
Teekshna – strong, piercing
Deepaneeya – improve digestion strength
They are used for alepana – anointment
They are used in Snehana (oleation), Swedana (sweating treatment), in Niruha and Anuvasana basti (decoction and oil enema), as part of diet, in nasya treatment, in surgical procedures, in rectal suppositories, etc.
Stambhana bandha samghata vidhamana – breaks down stiffness, tightening effect and obstructions
sarvarasa pratyaneekabhutaha – can dominate all other tastes
kapham vishyandayati – liquefies Kapha
Lavana Rasa (salt) relieves rigidity, clears the obstructions of the channels and pores, increases digestive activity, lubricates, causes sweating, penetrates deep into the tissues, improves taste.
Generally salts are bad for the eyes (vision) except Saindhava – Rock Salt.
Used in excess, it causes vitiation of Asra (blood) and Vata, causes baldness, greying of hair, wrinkles of the skin, thirst, skin diseases, effect of poison and decrease of strength of the body.
Excess of salt causes increase of Pitta and Kapha, leading to following symptoms –
Pitta prakopa – increase and imbalance of Pitta
Raktavruddhi – Vitiation of blood
Trushna – excessive thirst
Murcha – unconsciousness
Vidaha, Santapa – burning sensation
Darayati – causes erosion
Mamsakotha – muscle degeneration
Kushta – skin diseases
Krushnati mamsani – depletion of muscle tissue
Pragalayati kushtani – sloughing of skin diseases
Shopha – inflammatory condition
Dantachyuti – teeth fall
Visham vardhayati – aggravates poison effects and symptoms
Napumsakata – infertility, impotency
Indriyanasha – depleted strength of sense organs
Vali,Palithya, Khalitya – grey hairs, facial wrinkles and hair loss
Shophan sphotayati – opens up swellings
Raktapitta – bleeding disorders due to high Pitta levels
Amlapitta – gastritis
Visarpa – Herpes
Vatarakta – gout
Vicharchika – worsens eczema
Indralupta – hair loss, alopecia
While taking food, Salt taste should be consumed next to sweet and sour foods in diet, in the early part of meals.
Contra indications: Gastritis, high BP, body swelling, high fever.
Salts in Ayurveda –
Group of five salts:
1. Saindhava Lavana – Rock salt
2. Souvarchala Lavana – Sochal salt or black salt (Primarily Sodium chloride with traces of Sodium sulphide, Sodium sulphate etc)
3. Bida / Vida Lavana – A type of black salt / Sodium sulphate
4. Samurda Lavana – Common salt (Sodium Chloride)
5. Romaka / Sambhara Lavana – Earthen salt.
In any Ayurvedic text book, if,
If the term Lavana is mentioned, then Saindhava Lavana (rock salt) is considered.
If the term Dwi lavana is mentioned, (combination of two salts) then, Saindhava and Souvarchala are taken.
If the term Tri lavana or Lavana Trika or Lavana Traya is used (combination of 3 salts), Saindhava, Souvarchala and Bida lavanas are considered.
If the term chaturlavana is used, Saidnhava, Souvarchala, Bida and Samudra lavanas are considered.
If Panchalavana is used, then Saindhava, Souvarchala, Bida, Samudra and Sambhara lavanas are considered.
According to Rasa Ratna Samucchaya (A text book about the usage of minerals in Ayurveda), there are six types of salts.
The Six Lavanas – according to Rasaratna Samucchaya.
Samudra, saindhava, Bida, Souvarchala, Romaka and Chullika Lavana (Navasadara – Ammoium chloride) together are called as Shadlavana according to Rasaratna Samucchaya.
Of all the substances that improve taste of food, salt is the best.
Effect on Dosha: Mitigates Vata. Increases Pitta and kapha.
Salts along with Sneha (oil / Ghee) brings about immediate Snehana (internal oleation) effect.
Characteristic features of salt taste –
Salt gets quickly dissolved in the mouth resulting in stickiness (kleda),
Vishyanda – moistness
Mardava – softness
Mukhasya Vidaha – produce burning sensation in the mouth.
Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 26th chapter
Ashtanga Hrudayam Sutrasthana 10th chapter