In Ayurveda the term ‘Lavan’ means salt. Lavan is mineral that is obtained from various natural resources. Salt is basically chloride of sodium. Lavan, namak or salt is an essential element of our diet. It is required by our body to perform various important functions. In Ayurveda lavan are used for medicinal purpose also. Mainly there are five varieties of salt that are used for medicinal purpose and are grouped as Pancha lavan or five salts.
The five salts or Pancha lavan in Ayurveda are
- Saindhava (Rock Salt)
- Samudra (Sea Salt)
- Vid (type of Black Salt)
- Sauvarchala (Potassium Nitrate)
- Romaka (Earthen Salt)
Saindhava(Rock Salt) is considered best among all five salts. It is available in three varieties crystalline, red and white.
Saindhava namak or Rock Salt is mineral obtained from mines. Most of Saindhava namak is mined from Sindh mountain regions of Pakistan. It is Chloride of Sodium. Its chemical composition is Sodium Chloride (NaCl) 97.6 % w/w, Sodium Bicarbonate (NaHCO3) – 0.07 % w/w and Insoluble matter – 0.031 % w/w. Rock salt also contains Magnesium Chloride, Calcium Chloride and Calcium Sulphate.
Vernacular names of Saindhava lavan
- Hindi: Sendha namk, Lahauri namak, Sendhanona
- Bengali: Saindhava Nun
- Marathi: Sende lona
- Gujarati: Sindh luna
- English: Rock salt
Sendha namak is madhura in ras; shita is virya; and snigdha, laghu in guna. It is tridoshnasak.
Crystalline Saindhava lavan is used for medicinal treatment, particularly in diseases related to abdomen. It is given for improving appetite. It is also given for assisting digestion and better absorption of nutrients in body. In case of diarrhoea, loose motion it is taken with chhach to prevent electrolyte misbalance.
Sendha namak is ‘Sheet in Virya’. It has more cooling effect on body than common sea salt. It can be taken in small amount even in diseases in which oral intake of salts is prohibited. It works best for Vata types. In persons of pitta type, rock salt should be used moderately and in Kapha type minimally.