Salt is a surprisingly powerful home treatment for a number of minor ailments. It soothes inflammation so much so that I can often skip ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatories when I treat myself with salt. It also promotes healing because it has cleansing action. Salt is absolutely necessary for your health. While too much can be a problem, obviously, not getting enough can cause problems, too. Salt helps carry nutrients to cells, helps your body use minerals like calcium, regulates blood pressure and can help regulate muscle contractions.
Salt in home treatments
So what can salt do for you?
Ease a toothache. This one has been recommended to me by actual dentists: rinse your mouth with saltwater to soothe gum pain and promote healing. Saltwater doesn’t cure underlying conditions, but if a popcorn husk has gotten under your gum, or if you’ve just had dental work and are in pain, saltwater helps so much (it’s really surprising) you may not need as much (or as potent) painkillers to get through it. If you get a tooth pulled, rinsing with saltwater several times a day helps to prevent “dry socket.”
Because the salt is actually cleansing your mouth when you use it this way, it is doing you some good beyond just soothing the pain.
To make a saltwater rinse, pour an ounce or two of comfortably warm water in a cup. Sprinkle some salt into it. Stir that up, and swish or rinse your mouth. Don’t swallow it. Dispose of any unused portion. You may find some recommendations online for mixing a teaspoon with 8 ounces of water, but the problem with this is, you’ll never need that much saltwater for one rinse, and if you let it sit for even an hour, it turns briny. The proportions aren’t that crucial, so you don’t need exact measurements.
Use this remedy as needed – two the three times a day, at least.
Leg/foot cramps. A lot of things can cause leg and foot cramps – having the wrong amounts of calcium or potassium in your body, to name a few. I’ve tried taking both calcium and potassium for cramps, in food form or as supplements, with no relief. Then a friend of mine with the same problem got an interesting recommendation from a doctor.
- Sprinkle a little salt in your palm. Probably an eighth of a teaspoon – it doesn’t take much.
- Lick it up and swallow it.
- Enjoy the quick and long-lasting relief.
Because salt plays a role in regulating the flow and usage of minerals like calcium in your body, it can help when the problem isn’t a lack of calcium or potassium, but that the mineral isn’t getting where it needs to go. That’s the job of salt.
Neti pot/saline rinse for noses. Neti pots have been part of ayurvedic medicine for centuries. The basic idea of it is to rinse out the nasal passages with salt water, which thins mucous, improves the cilia’s ability to remove bacteria, allergens and other ickies, etc. It’s proven to provide some relief. I’ve been using the NeilMed upright version for years now to help with chronic post-nasal drip, and I find it makes a very significant difference. (Hint: to save money, just buy the NeilMed bottle and use kosher salt instead of their pre-made packets.)
The Neti Pot or one of its variations may be the most effective way to flush your nose with saline, but it’s not for everyone (at first, when you start using it, it can feel like you’re going to drown). So here’s another solution that involves just stuff you already have at home:
- Make a little bit of salt water, using the method I described above.
- Dip a spoon into it and get just a few drops of saline on the spoon.
- Put it under your nostril and sniff it up (even if you can barely sniff at all, just do the best you can).
This doesn’t rinse anything out of your nose, like a neti pot, but it still cleanses the sinuses, helps the cilia do their thing, thins mucous, and moisturizes dried out nasal tissue to help get everything flowing like it should be.
As a gargle: make saltwater the way I described above, and gargle it. When I do this, I make a larger batch – about 4 ounces – and gargle a mouthful at a time for about thirty seconds. I gargle the whole batch, one mouthful at a time. Your mileage may vary, but this it the technique that’s brought me the most relief.