Thursday, April 18, 2013


A very effective natural remedy for that change-of-season sore throat.

What causes the acute discomfort of those annoying sore throats? The pain is from the cells in the back of the throat that have become inflamed and infected with nasty bacteria.  And we know that if we don't do something about it, and soon, we are heading for more discomfort in the form of a cold or flu.

Many people gargle with salt water.  This can help because it dries out the inflamed, infected cells and if you get to them soon enough it can kill them off. However, if you don't get to it quickly common salt is not going to be that effective. Therefore I’m going to tell you about a much more effective salt for sore throats, but first -

…a little about salt.
Worldwide there are two main sources of salt - rock salt and sea salt. Many people are ignorant about how salt is produced and the differences between commercial table salt and a good sea salt. Unlike many other countries we have available to us here in New Zealand very good quality South Island sea salt.

We hear about doctors taking heart patients off salt but in France they put heart patients on salt - a good sea salt. We can obtain good French Sea Salt or Himalayan Rock Salt here in NZ, but is that really necessary?  Let’s find out by having a look at our own salt production along the Marlborough coast in New Zealand’s South Island.

>From the 1800’s until the 1950’s all salt used in homes or industry in New Zealand was imported, mainly from Liverpool in the UK.  In 1940 George Skellerup, of Skellerup shoes, sort to change this.  He needed large amounts of salt to make caustic soda for the recycling of rubber tyres.  He tried to establish salt concentration ponds at Lake Grassmere, 40km south of Blenheim, on the Marlborough Coast. Because of the war, the venture didn’t succeed so the government purchased the land and formed Dominion Salt Ltd which now produces about 60,000 tonnes of sea salt per year, half of all New Zealand’s salt requirements.  The remaining salt needed is imported in bulk from the salt lakes of Western Australia and refined at the Dominion Salt plant in Mt Manganui.

                    Salt has been produced from evaporated sea water at Lake Grassmere/Kāpara Te Hau
                    since 1952.  Masses of algae and tiny shrimps give the crystallisation ponds a pink hue.
                    The lake is on the Marlborough coast between White Bluffs/Te Parinui o Whiti (in the
                    background) and Cape Campbell (not visible in this image).

At Lake Grassmere, sea water is pumped into a naturally occurring shallow lake known as  Grassmere or Kaparatehau ("the wind-ruffled lake") along the Marlborough coastline. .Sea salt is recovered from seawater by the evaporation caused by the winds that constantly blow along the coast during summer. This leaves a high mineral content of certain trace minerals in the salt deposits.

Sea salt comes in many varieties, each with its own unique flavour, texture, and colour.   All Table Salt produced in New Zealand is solar sea salt.  The grade of salt called table salt provides a very clean, uniform flavour necessary for use in food processing. However, I think of this as akin to white sugar.  This refined grade of salt has most, if not all, of its natural minerals removed during the refining process leaving pretty much only sodium chloride.  Small amounts of an anti-caking agent called silicon dioxide (SiO2) and iodine are then added.

Silicon dioxide, is most commonly found in nature as sand or quartz, as well as in the cell walls of diatoms (one of the most common types of phytoplankton).  In its hydrated form, it is used in toothpaste as a hard abrasive to remove tooth plaque. Fruits & vegetables also contain a good amount of silicon dioxide. So is SiO2 dangerous? Probably not. In New Zealand we don’t add in the variety of chemicals such as aluminium carbonate, fluoride etc., that they do in other countries. However this refined table salt is the salt that doctors need to take their heart patients off.

Much better for us is our own Southern Ocean Sea Salt similar to Grey Salt (also known as Celtic Sea Salt, if it’s from Europe).  This is high quality, unrefined, mineral flavoured salt that can look slightly grey in colour.  The colour comes from the clay that lines the salt water ponds from which it is harvested. Southern Ocean Salt is available in a variety of grinds and is most often used as a finishing salt to be added at the end of food preparation. This high quality salt is easily available here.  I don’t think we need to go to France or the Himalayas for our salt! Oh by the way, Himalayan Salt is the marketing term for the rock salt Halite, which is mined in Pakistan, also high in minerals, but then so is our New Zealand sea salt.

“New Zealand sea salts are as good as any in the world, despite the New Zealand fashion for sprinkling imported salt on fine cuisine.”   We can sometimes forget how blessed we are to live in this country and have access to such wholesome nutrition.
Now back to the best remedy for those sore throats… if you gargle with salt don’t use refined table salt, but instead use ¾ teaspoon of mineral rich sea salt dissolved in ½ a cup of warm water.  Don’t delay – as soon as you get the first tiny feel of a sore throat reach for the salt (especially if you wake up in the middle of the night – get to it and don’t leave it until morning as it will be too late).


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