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Ayurvedic medicine practitioners consider kala namak, also known as black lava salt or sanchal, a cooling spice that individuals often use to regulate electrolytes or the gastrointestinal tract. Containing a number of minerals, people also generally use the volcanic salt to improve anemia. People frequently drink the mineral combined with fluid, but also sprinkle the powdered crystal on food or add the salt to bath water. Besides the Middle East, the black Indian salt is also popular with people in France, Japan and Spain.
Mined from ancient volcanoes in Pakistan and India, kala namak is a natural rock salt containing about 97 percent sodium chloride and 3 percent iron, which partially contributes to the mineral’s distinctive color. Kala Namak also has a characteristic sulfur aroma produced by the trace elements calcium sulfate and sulfate. In rock form, the mineral appears dark brownish pink to dark violet in color. When pulverized into granules or a fine powder, the salt may be pink to light purple in color. Some people combine the salt with ground harad seeds, which supposedly also have medicinal and aphrodisiac properties.
The hot, arid climate of the Middle East typically causes people to perspire profusely. Along with losing water, sweat generally contains important electrolytes, including sodium. The people of these dry sweltering atmospheres may consume kala namak in foods or liquids to ensure proper sodium/potassium balance. Women in these desert environments often add a pinch of the mineral to fruit or vegetable dishes and dips. The powder form may also be found as an ingredient in mineral water.
Salt in the digestive tract extracts water from the body by osmosis. Kala namak acts as a digestive aid in reversing constipation and allowing individuals to eliminate flatulence. Individuals may partake of the laxative in lemonade made with lemons, ginger and the black salt. People may also roast the salt in a copper vessel until a color change occurs, mix the salt with warm water and drink the intestinal gas treatment. Some believe the body absorbs the iron contained within the black salt, thus correcting iron deficient anemia.
Many use kala namak in warm bath water, replicating the hot thermal springs found around the world. The salt and sulfur content not only reportedly alleviate aches and pains, but also act as a natural disinfectant. Individuals use the aromatic sulfur and salt water to heal topical inflammation and infections. Cultures may also use the pungent mixture for clearing and enhancing healing of the respiratory tract.