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Friday, July 27, 2012

30: Beating the Heat

During the recent heat wave, I found myself thinking of a friend’s husband. Last year he’d had a really bad go with sunstroke. I had given his wife a suggestion. Now I was wondering if he’d ever picked up on it, or if he was struggling again. So I gave him a call.

No, he said, he was having no problems at all, because, “I remember what you told my wife. I’ll never forget it.” He talked about the incident during planting season last spring. He was back in Saskatchewan on the old family farm, working underneath the cultivator in extreme heat, fully exposed to the intense sun, bare-headed in the close confines. Later he had the flu-like symptoms of heat exhaustion: “the runs,” head-achy, feverish. He drank water by the litre—it went right through him. He couldn’t eat—when he tried, it would come back up. He was terribly weak. The first two days, he struggled on; the next two, he couldn’t do anything. Couldn’t get out of bed for more than ten minutes at a time, and that was mainly to get to the bathroom again.

It was at the end of the fourth day that I happened to be talking to his wife, who told me all about it. “It’s because of loss of salt that comes with excessive perspiration,” I told her. “Then you can’t even retain the water you drink. He needs electrolytes. Tell him to take a half-teaspoon of sea salt in a glass of water.” When she talked to him that evening on the phone, she said “one teaspoon”; in his delirium, he translated “one tablespoon.” So into a glass of water went a heaping soupspoon of salt, and he choked it down. He managed to hang onto most of it, but not surprisingly, some came back up. Two hours later, he was feeling halfway back to his usual self. Amazingly, by morning he was 100%.

In retrospect he remembers that his 80-year-old Ukrainian grandmother, after a hot day of work in the garden, would stir a spoonful of salt into her tea instead of sugar. He, only six at the time, thought it was quite weird, but now it all makes sense to him.

* * *

One day at the Farmers’ Market, a friend, Joan, hurried up to my table and said excitedly, “I need to talk to you.” She sat down in the extra chair I keep there for lengthier conversations, and she told me her story. She had been to see a chiropractor in Medicine Hat who had put her on his “Total Body Modification” program, to address her many allergies. It included staying completely away from sugar (except natural sources) and drinking large amounts of water. She was instructed to be sure to get enough (unrefined) salt, that avoiding salt when drinking large amounts of water can be unsafe.

By the end of the first week on this program, she noticed that her ankles and calves were swelling. Edema has been a recurring problem for her, ever since having children (she has ten!), but normally it was sugar that triggered it. Because she hadn’t had sugar now for a week, she was surprised. And it wasn’t just her legs and feet, but even her arms were swollen—there was definitely a significant amount of water retention. She was also feeling extremely lethargic.

She prayed about it. What came to mind was something I had told her about a salt cleanse (See Blog #21). Now this is a cleanse that is normally used to clear the kidneys of bromine and other halides that are being forced out of the body by iodine supplementation. Because Joan had once mentioned that her naturopath had her on high doses of iodine, I had told her of this bromine overload that could occur, the symptoms, and what to do about them. None of these symptoms was present, and yet in prayer she was impressed that this was what she should do. So she did the salt cleanse, which involves ingesting three quarters of a teaspoon of Celtic sea salt and about two litres of water over the course of an hour.

Eight hours later, all the edema was gone—and she had her energy back! This had just happened the previous day, and she was pretty excited about it.

People who have trouble with edema usually find it is worse in hot weather. “Unrefined salt helps in regulating the levels of water in the body, thus maintaining the delicate balance that needs to exist between the cells and body fluids, while also helping to maintain the electrolyte balance.” (

While most doctors are prescribing diuretics and telling patients to avoid salt, this may well be another reason to grab your sea-salt grinder in hot weather.

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