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Salt and Human Health: Science, Archaeology, Ancient Texts and Traditional Practices of Eastern Romania

Ion Sandu, Adrian Poruciuc, Marius Alexianu, Roxana-Gabriela Curc? and Olivier Weller

Published: 2010/03/01

Abstract

This article presents the use of salt water springs in the Moldavian sub-Carpathians (eastern Romania) for treating certain diseases. The authors take into consideration archaeological discoveries and ethnographical surveys, correlated with known facts from the literature in the field. A special focus is on the presence of archaeological sites next to salt water springs, where specific objects were noted that are used in the extraction, storage, manipulation and use of salt waters. Nevertheless, what distinguishes the Romanian region under discussion from similar regions of Europe is the intense, unexpected continuity in the use of a traditional, non-industrial water supply from salt water springs. Among the uses of salt water and halite in the area, we will mention numerous traditional halotherapeutic practices. The concordances shown between ancient and current traditional halotherapeutic practices in eastern Romania infer the existence of a strong halotherapeutic element in prehistory. This aspect is generally neglected by archaeologists who deal with the evolution of human communities in an area rich in salt. The ancient and current halotherapeutic practices in eastern Romania are proof of an authentic ethnoscience acquired by human communities with salt outcrops and salt water springs. The analysis of these practices demonstrates their scientific validity from the current biochemical and biophysical standpoint. The scientific explanation of the various effects of salt upon the human body is, in fact, given by the influence of NaCl aerosols and nanodispersions. Parts of these practices are being adopted by a series of recent halotherapeutic procedures, with reliable scientific and technological bases.

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