As more people seek alternative remedies to improve their health, drinking salt water has become yet another method to consider. Commonly followed by practitioners of the Master Cleanse, drinking salt water — also called a salt water flush or sole water — is used to detox the body and cleanse the colon.
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Advocates tout that drinking salt water improves sleep patterns and skin tone, as well as relieve muscle cramps after a rigorous workout. The benefits of drinking salt water sound remarkable, but it's important to note that there has been no scientific research to support these claims.
Read More: 10 Myths About Salt Debunked
Salt's Role in the Body
The sodium in salt is an important mineral required by the human body. While sodium is a naturally occurring mineral in fruits like passionfruit and vegetables such as celery, it's also frequently used in cooking like adding salt in water for pasta. The most commonly occurring form of sodium, however, is in the form of table salt, which is made up of 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride.
Salt is responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses, proper muscle function and in regulating blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. However, too much sodium in your diet can lead to excess water being pulled into the bloodstream, causing an increase in blood pressure as the body tries to compensate for the change in overall blood volume. The result of this change is a higher incidence rate of a heart attack or stroke.
How to Make 'Sole' Water
Sole water, pronounced so-lay, is made by adding a non-iodized salt, such as Himalayan pink salt, to water in a large glass jar. The mixture is thoroughly shaken and left to sit overnight until the water is completely saturated. A lack of leftover salt at the bottom of the jar indicates that more salt can still be added to the water. When the added salt no longer dissolves and instead floats to the bottom, the mixture is fully saturated.
The Himalayan pink salt used to make sole water contains not only just sodium but 84 trace minerals including potassium, selenium, zinc and magnesium, some of which are responsible for the salt's rosy hue. Enthusiasts of salt water flushes recommend adding 1 teaspoon of sole water to a glass of warm water and drinking it every day in the morning, preferably on an empty stomach.
Though magnesium and potassium are only present in trace amounts, a small study of 10 people published in March 2019 in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine determined that drinking an oral rehydration solution that includes sodium and other minerals help with muscle cramps after exercise.
Side Effects of Salt Water
Too much salt in a person's diet can lead to an increase in blood pressure, higher incidence of a stroke, bloating and even kidney disease. An increase in sodium levels causes more frequent urinations as the body attempts to get rid of the excess salt consumed. The kidneys, which are responsible for regulating the body's salt levels, can become damaged by a diet high in sodium.
For some people, drinking sole water may result in an excess amount of salt for the body to excrete, resulting in pressure on the kidneys. This ultimately leads to dehydration, causing an increase in blood pressure as less water can be removed by the kidneys.
Because the average American diet already exceeds the recommended sodium intake limit, drinking salt water may do more harm than good. It's best to first consult a certified medical professional before making sole water a part of your daily routine.
Read More: What's Normal for Blood Pressure?
- Medline Plus: Sodium in Diet
- American Heart Association: Get the Scoop on Sodium and Salt
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Celery, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Passionfruit, (Granadilla), Purple, Raw
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Potential Health Benefits of Deep Sea Water: A Review
- National Ocean Service: Can Humans Drink Salt Water?
- CDC: The Role of Sodium in Your Food
- BMJ Open Sport & Excerise Medicine: Water Intake After Dehydration Makes Muscles More Susceptible to Cramp But Electrolytes Reverse That Effect
- Medline Plus: Sodium Phosphate Rectal