Salt: A Dentist’s Viewpoint

– Dr. M. Amir

In an effort to amend the salt tax, imposed by the British colonial rulers in India on March 2, 1930 Ghandi wrote to the Viceroy, Lord Irwin:

“If my letter makes no appeal to your heart, on the eleventh day of this month I shall proceed with such co-workers of the Ashram as I can take, to disregard the provisions of the Salt Laws. I regard this tax to be the most iniquitous of all from the poor man’s standpoint. As the Independence movement is essentially for the poorest in the land, the beginning will be made with this evil”.

On April 6th he picked up a lump of mud and salt (some say just a pinch, some say just a grain) and boiled it in seawater to make the commodity which no Indian could legally produce.

Thus began the long journey, which lead to the Independence of India from colonial rule.

The history of salt perhaps predates the dawn of life on earth. Some interesting points come out of Chinese history where one of the earliest verifiable salt works in prehistoric China was in the northern province of Shanxi. In this arid region of dry yellow earth and desert mountains is a lake of salty water, Lake Yuncheng. This area was in constant warfare, and all of the wars were over control of the lake. Chinese historians are certain that by 6000 B.C., each year, when the lake’s waters evaporated in the summer sun, people harvested the square crystals on the surface of the water, a system the Chinese referred to as “dragging and gathering.” Human bones found around the lake have been dated much earlier, and some historians speculate that these inhabitants may also have gathered salt from the lake. The earliest written record of salt production in China dates to around 800 B.C. and tells of production and trade of sea salt a millennium before, during the Xia dynasty. It is unknown if the techniques described in this account were actually used during the Xia dynasty, but they were considered old ways by the time of this account, which describes putting ocean water in clay vessels and boiling it until reduced to pots of salt crystals. This technique spread through southern Europe by the Roman Empire, 1,000 years after the Chinese account was written. About 1000 B.C., iron first came into use in China, though the first evidence of it being used in salt making is not until 450 B.C. by a man named Yi Dun. According to a passage written in 129 B.C., “Yi Dun rose to prominence by producing salt in pans.” Yi Dun is believed to have made salt by boiling brine in iron pans, an innovation that would become one of the leading techniques for salt making for the next 2,000 years .

Presently salt (Sodium Chloride) has some 14000 uses in the home and industry . It has remained one of the cheapest commodities and the supply is endless. Additionally it is one of the most recyclable substances.

Its use in our bodies is invaluable as it is required for metabolism to enable sweating. The Sodium ions play an important role in every impulse in our bodies, and in all life where nerve conduction or ionic exchange takes place. The human body contains on average about four ounces of salt. Without enough of it, muscles will not contract, blood will not circulate, food will not digest, and the heart will not beat. Without it, there would be neither awareness nor life.

There have been studies, which indicate that some of us are sensitive to excessive salt intake but there is disagreement over how much is too much. For years, many researchers have claimed that salt may contribute to high blood pressure. Recently, though, other researchers have begun to rehabilitate salt’s reputation, claiming there is no reason for doctors to recommend reducing sodium intake for people with normal blood pressure. In fact, it has been found useful in the treatment of low blood pressure especially in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome .

In spite of the many and varied uses of salt, medically long prized as a stimulant, antiseptic and much else, salt has lost out to the pharmaceutical industry during recent history, I would suggest at our peril.

Lightly salted mouths…
There has been an exponential increase in poor oral health in recent years, often, paradoxically, amongst patients who are diligent about cleaning their teeth. This increase appears to correspond to the increased shelf space occupied by toothpastes and rinses in supermarkets in the last few years. One has to wonder what came first – gum disease or the modern chemical cornucopia for teeth cleaning and gum freshening.

Here is the paradox: if you are using a major branded (or any) toothpaste, with all its claims for health and freshness, you really ought to have strong gums and sweet breath. Yet you find that you have to resort to mouthwashes – also guaranteed to freshen the mouth and gums – and in spite of using them as advised, you still have a slimy tongue, bad breath and bleeding gums. I have been astounded by the severely inflamed gums in many a patient who are diligent about cleaning their teeth. Does it not beg the question ‘What is happening in my mouth?’ Since you are cleaning your teeth regularly, there must be something wrong with the products that you are using to clean your teeth. In spite of fantastic scientific claims from the pharmaceutical companies, I beg to differ.

A basic tenet of the practice of medicine is that we should not disturb the benign bacteria that reside on our skin, in our mouth and in our alimentary and uterine canals. This tenet has been widely violated by industry that puts “gum protection” formulas onto the market place, products often endorsed by dental associations. This violation can only lead to very detrimental effects on our health. The emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in hospitals is largely attributable to the excessive use of antibiotics and antiseptics causing the bacteria to mutate and provide resistance. What we fail to realise is that we are subjecting our bodies to antiseptics every time we put a toothbrush, coated with the most powerful antiseptics, in our mouths. The consequences of this are all too obvious in the dental office. Has anyone ever come across a tube of toothpaste, which may have been left about for many months, go rotten? If not, than this is perhaps a testament to the lethal contents contained therein.
Gum health is extremely important for damage to the oral gingiva can lead to an influx of bacteria into our bloodstream. These have been shown to cause heart disease , and perhaps are a factor in the emergence of Type II diabetes.

If you are a diligent user of toothpaste and you experience that:

  • Your mouth is slimy often confirmed by slowly opening your mouth while looking closely in a mirror and watching for slimy streaks of saliva forming in your mouth.
  • You feel as if you are spitting when you speak. The slime makes tiny bubbles and they burst as you speak.
  • You develop bleeding gums in spite of frequent brushing.
  • You develop severe bad breath in spite of vigorous brushing using toothpaste and/or mouthwashes.
  • You start developing a very dry mouth due to a lack of adequate amounts of saliva .
  • Your parotid glands, located in your cheeks, have been diagnosed as inflamed and unable to secrete saliva .
  • You develop a persistent sore throat .
  • You develop a rash around your body or numbness around the mouth especially if the cause remains unexplained .

Then the chances are that this is due to the toothpastes and mouthwashes, which you may be using which essentially disturb the benign resident oral bacterial flora in our mouths: the more bacteriostats and bactericides the toothpaste has in its formula, the worse the likely disease process is going to become. It gives rise to fungal organisms and other bacteria, which usually reside in the lower gut, to not only seriously damage the gums but also the tooth supporting bone – apart from the foul odour.

The answer does not lie in adding anti-fungals and more lethal antiseptics to this disturbing mix but to stop all of it and go on to use what nature has provided for us in abundance and almost free – Salt.

If you happen to be suffering from any or all of the conditions listed above, you need to stop using any toothpaste or mouthwash of any description whatsoever. From my experience, some of the above symptoms do not abate for up to 6 weeks in patients who are otherwise well and some 14 weeks in those suffering from other ailments like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after stopping the toothpaste and/or the mouthwashes that you may have been using so you will need to persist.

The treatment is to:

  • Use a solution of salt, (in ratio of a teaspoon to a glass full of warm water); Pour this solution onto the brush and clean your teeth with this. You may feel slightly awkward for a couple of days about not using toothpaste, after which you will not notice any difference .
  • Invest in an Oral Irrigator to wash your teeth and gums with a spray of salt water after each meal. These are available over the Internet or from large chemists.
  • Use inter-dental brushes to clean between the teeth.
  • You can also rinse your mouth with live natural yoghurt to re-establish bacterial balance in your mouth.
  • Visit your dentist to assess for bone loss and to see if you need more comprehensive treatment.

Freshly salted skin…
The mouth is not the only significant organ to benefit from salt. Many people suffer from body odour, commonly known as BO. It is often localised to the armpits. Here again I suggest that the cause is unnecessary and unsympathetic products, in this case the use of deodorants. Where I come from in the developing world we had never heard of deodorants, and when I used one here I rapidly developed BO under my armpits so I immediately threw it away. You may need to do the same.

The treatment for BO is to have a shower with an antiseptic free soap and while in the shower rub salt on the affected parts, your armpits, feet or the whole body. Wait for a few minutes and wash it all off. You must not use the same towels, or any clothes that you may have been in contact with before, and I would ensure changing all bed linen and laundering it in very hot water. Use fresh clean clothes. Previously worn and dirty clothes contain the same foul odour-producing bacteria and you will pick the infection up again within seconds of contact. You may have to repeat this procedure if the offending odour reappears. Above all, bin the deodorant

This becomes even more imperative in view of recent investigations which have shown the presence of chemical preservatives from underarm deodorants in breast cancer tumours. Biologist Philippa Darbre analysed 20 breast cancer tumours and found high concentrations of para-hydroxybenzoic acids (parabens) in 18 of them. Parabens mimic oestrogen, which plays a role in the development of breast cancers. Oestrogen has been known to be the major aetiological factor in the development of breast cancer for many years. Parabens are used in many cosmetics and even in some foods. The form of parabens found in the tumours came from something that was applied to the skin, because parabens, if ingested, appear to be metabolised and no longer mimic oestrogen in the body. The author of the study adds, “…These results help explain why up to 60% of all breast tumours are found in just one-fifth of the breast, the upper-outer quadrant, nearest the underarm.”

Critics are insisting on further studies to prove the link. Breast cancer has been on the increase in western society. Interestingly, it is, as is the case for mouthwashes, paralleled by increased underarm cosmetic usage. Does one have to wait for the results of further studies or take immediate remedial action?

Salt and sore throats…
Many children and some adults develop persistent sore throats. My observation over many years in practice is that the cause is their poor dental occlusion and jaw symmetry, which prevents proper ventilation of the breathing apparatus in their bodies. Chronic sore throats are a persistent feature of patients suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Correction involves a significant amount of treatment, which may not be possible for all.

To prevent a ‘tickle’ becoming a fully developed sore throat lasting many days you need to gargle with hot salt water at the first sign of a cough, even if it occurs at 4 A.M. If it happens again within a few minutes gargle again. If the cough starts at say 4 A.M. and you do not get up to gargle this regimen will not be as effective. You have to start at the first sign of a cough.

Years ago, I found that my twin boys took nearly 30 days off school in a year due to colds and coughs. The following year I implemented this regime and the absences reduced to 2 days in a whole year. This simple procedure helps asthmatics a great deal also. Here again correction of the jaw asymmetries corrects the problem in most cases but we are so accustomed to using inhalers and attributing this as a medical problem that we never seek help from the dentist where this problem truly belongs.

A salt for sore eyes…
Eye infections are also a common problem. Bathing your eyes in warm salt water is by far the best solution. Using an antibiotic often prolongs this problem. If the whole eyeball is red, wearing dark glasses along with the salt washes brings about a rapid resolution of symptoms.

… and skin
Acne is also better controlled with a salt wash. Rubbing salt in localised areas of acne spots and leaving the salt in situ afterwards gives best results. Acne appears to be intimately related with the condition of your jaws as I have noticed from the treatment of a couple of very entrenched cases. However, this introduces the whole subject of dental alignment and treatment, which is best presented in another future article.

… and insect bites
These are also best treated by rubbing salt on the wound immediately after being bitten and repeating this procedure a few times. This works extremely well for most benign bites. However, the consequences of serious infection caused by insects are all too well known.

All these suggestions consistently use salt as a natural remedy that respects the balance within the body, and works for the vast majority, if the instructions are followed carefully. Obviously, there are cases of such severity that a doctor must be consulted, as I have noted throughout.

Efforts are underway to take us away from the culture of stronger and stronger antibiotics, which sends the bacteria on the offensive to produce resistant strains. One interesting strategy is to try to prevent bacteria from clinging to cells of the body. No adhesion means no infection. Most bacteria cause infection by first sticking to mucosal cells through proteins called lectins on their surface to carbohydrate segments on the cells of the host tissue.

Such wonders are already present in nature. Breast milk contains complex sugars that prevent bacterial lectins from binding and thus prevent infections in infants. Mannose, a sugar that adheres to a broad variety of uterine bacteria when used to flush a mare’s uterus restored fertility, which was previously prevented because of chronic uterine infections . Xylitol, a 5-carbon sugar alcohol prevents dental caries in children. A chewing gum containing xylitol was shown to reduce ear infections by 40%. The same mechanism operates with the use of cranberry juice for urinary tract infections.

A move away from antibiotic and antiseptic use is perhaps overdue. Using salt goes hand in hand, with what nature has provided for us. Its use as a permanent element of mouth hygiene will also prevent potentially lethal bacteria gaining excess to our blood streams and producing new nightmares remote from the mouth.

Invest in a box of nature’s apothecary, and try these effective, simple programmes for yourself. You will also contribute to saving the environment from hundreds of chemicals leaching into the soil and millions of aerosol cans playing havoc with the protective ozone layer in our upper atmosphere.

About the Author: Dr Amir practices holistic dentistry in London and specialises in the treatment of medical problems emanating from the dental complex. He would welcome supporting evidence from patients who share his views or who have had damage to their wellbeing as mentioned in this article. He can be contacted by phone 011 44 (0) 208 780 3433 or by email:

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