Salt Consumption and Depression?

Salt Consumption and Depression?


We have examined the overwhelming evidence that far too often the physical causes of illnesses we have and unwanted sensations that we feel are ignored. Instead, doctors just prescribe a pill that might reduce the symptoms but don't treat the cause. In a previous newsletter we described how the symptoms of depression listed by the National Institute of Mental Health were just like the symptoms caused by thyroid problems.

The drug companies admit on many of their drugs' labels that they don't know exactly how many of their drugs actually work. The drug companies and most doctors admit that, particularly with psychoactive drugs, no one knows how much of a particular chemical being supposedly increased by a drug is needed for each of us. What more and more impartial experts are agreeing on is that drugs that just treat symptoms really don't address the causes and really don't provide any real cure.

Addressing the symptoms and not the cause is what we at Novus call the “Radio Method.” The radio method derives its name from the practice of some to treat any unusual sounds coming from their car's engine while driving down the road by just turning up the radio until it can no longer be heard. It is this “Radio Method” of medical care that we believe leads to so many medical problems that just continue, like your ignored car engine, to become worse and worse.


One of the reasons for the increasing number of adverse drug reactions and people whose health worsens after treatment with certain medical drugs is the fact that much of the research on some of the most commonly used drugs was not done independently. In order to obtain Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approval, a drug must have clinical trials that validate the drug's ability to treat a certain illness or unwanted sensation. Many times, when a drug company wants to encourage the use of their drug for purposes not approved by the FDA (“off-label use”) they cannot do this directly because it is against the law, but instead they hire doctors to give lectures to other doctors and do it indirectly.

Almost daily we are seeing reports of another prominent doctor, disgraced Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Biederman, whose studies have been important to FDA approval and/or acceptance of the drug by the medical community, who received huge amounts of money from the company that manufactured the drug being investigated. In fact, some of the documents being revealed in court cases filed by victims of these drugs show us that the “independent” researchers actually sent emails to the companies indicating that the study they were going to conduct would produce results favorable to the drug.

This means that the FDA, our doctors and the public have been misled (lied to) by many of these studies and that reliance on these studies has led to tragic consequences—increased sickness or even death.

According to the Encarta Dictionary, independent means “carried out or operating without interference or influence from interested parties.” You may expect to find a certain outcome in a drug trial, but an honest researcher in any area will let the actual results speak for themselves. If all of the studies of these drugs are independently done, then the results will have real meaning. Independent, competent studies of drugs will actually help save lives and prevent disease.

Sometimes a study can show information that was not expected. An example of this is a recent study published in the August 6, 2008 issue of Physiology & Behavior. Entitled, Salt Craving: The Psychobiology of Pathogenic Sodium Intake. The purpose of the study was to look for reasons why people, who knew they needed to reduce their salt consumption, continued to consume more salt.


Before discussing the study and its implications, what is salt? We all know salt shakers are found on almost every table, and salt is added to most recipes. Many of us remember from our science class that salt is a simple molecule formed by the combination of a sodium ion with a chloride ion. Na is the symbol for sodium and Cl is the symbol for chlorine. The symbol for sodium chloride is NaCl.

All of us need sodium in order for our bodies to function properly. Sodium and other electrolytes are essential to allow our bodies to maintain their proper level of hydration and for our cells to function properly. Sodium chloride is an essential element--the human body cannot long function without it.

Apparently, salt also is important for the proper operation of the digestive processes.


No one knows when man first began to obtain his sodium from salt and not from his diet. It is known that as early as 2500 B.C., salt had become considered essential to any civilization. Some historians speculate that the reason that civilizations first developed on the edges of deserts was because they were close to natural deposits of salt.

While salt is now very plentiful, until fairly recently it was difficult to find and transport. Some historians say that the first wars were not fought over water or property but over salt deposits.

Here are some facts about salt that you may find interesting:

  • The major factor for the location of London was because it was where salt haulers often had to stay for days at a time because of the high tides of the Thames.

  • One of the first taxes on goods was levied on salt in 2200 BC in China.

  • The most familiar reference to salt in the Bible was the story of Lot’s wife who was turned into a pillar of salt when she disobeyed the angels and looked back at the wicked city of Sodom.

  • By 2000 BC, people knew that adding salt to food helped preserve it and, in the times before refrigeration, this was vital.

  • The buying and selling of salt became one of the most important trading activities in the world.

  • The origin of the phrase “He is not worth his salt” is thought to have originated when slaves were traded for salt.

  • Roman legionnaires were paid in salt. Hence the word salary is derived from the Latin word sal which means salt and salarium which meant made in salt.

  • When an early Roman was in love he was said to be “salted.” A juicy piece of gossip is 'salacious' because an ancient Roman in love was said to be 'salted'.

  • In many religions, salt was given as a blessing. It was thought to drive out evil spirits and was linked to fertility and sexual desire.

  • The story of Judas Iscariot overturning a bowl of salt is thought to be the source of the common superstition that spilt salt is bad luck.

  • Many researchers believe that tens of thousands of Napoleon's troops died during their retreat from Moscow because of salt depletion.

  • Some U.S. Civil War historians believe that a major factor in the defeat of the South was that the South had no supply of salt. Not only did this lack of salt contribute to the salt depletion of its soldiers, but salt was needed to tan leather, dye cloth for uniforms and to preserve meat.

  • Geologists estimate that there are enough salt deposits in the state of Kansas to supply the entire world's salt needs for several hundred thousand years.

  • Today, high amounts of salt are found in almost all processed foods, and it is estimated that 77% of our salt intake comes from the foods we eat---not by adding salt to our food.

  • The National Academy of Sciences recommends that Americans consume a minimum of 500 mg/day of sodium to maintain good health, but many of us consume much more.

  • Although affected by our individual DNA and metabolism, the kidneys of most of us are able to eliminate the excess and unneeded sodium.

  • For some, the inability of our kidneys to eliminate excess sodium can lead to serious health problems.


The authors acknowledge that the body needs salt, but they want to examine the premise that salt is becoming an abused, addictive substance -- almost like a drug. The authors point out that for most of our existence, the diets of most humans did not contain enough sodium. They state that a pleasure mechanism in the brain is activated when salt is consumed. Since humans sought to gain more pleasure and less pain, people ate salt and this supplied the sodium that our bodies needed.

According to the authors, the fact that in our modern society diets are high in salt has led many of us to consume more sodium than our bodies can safely handle. "Most of our biological systems require sodium to function properly, but as a species that didn't have ready access to it, our kidneys evolved to become salt misers," the study stated.

Too high sodium levels, like smoking, have been linked to increased cardiovascular disease and numerous other health problems. Since too high a sodium intake, like smoking, is something that can be controlled by a person, the authors wanted to find if there were reasons why people, knowing that they needed to lower their sodium intake, continued to consume too much sodium.

The authors said that lab rats would generally perform feats in order to get rewards. They gave the example of pressing a bar that rewarded them by getting a sugary substance to drink. However, if these same lab rats were deficient in sodium chloride, common table salt, they were much less active and even tended to avoid things like pressing the bar even though they knew that pressing the bar would get them a sugary reward.

"Things that normally would be pleasurable for rats didn't elicit the same degree of relish, which leads us to believe that a salt deficit and the craving associated with it can induce one of the key symptoms associated with depression," said Dr. Kim Johnson, one of the authors of the study.

One sign of addiction is using a substance even when it's known to be harmful. Many people are told to reduce sodium due to health concerns, but they have trouble doing so because they like the taste and find low-sodium foods bland.

Another strong aspect of addiction is the development of intense cravings when drugs are withheld. Experiments by Johnson and his colleagues indicated similar changes in brain activity whether lab rats are exposed to drugs or salt deficiency.

"This suggests that salt need and cravings may be linked to the same brain pathways as those related to drug addiction and abuse," Johnson said.


Does this study tell us that when you are depressed the solution is to take some salt? No, but it does mean that if you are in a very hot climate or have sweated more than usual, that you may be salt depleted. Being salt depleted may lead to feelings of fatigue or depression and simply taking salt tablets has been known to rapidly remedy the problem—without using the “Radio Method” and taking antidepressants.

The study does tell us that there is yet another physical cause that has been identified as a possible source of depression. Since it is unlikely that the traditional drug pushing medical establishment is going to change, it is up to us, the consumers of medical care, to insist that we only take a drug after we have eliminated all the possible physical causes for our ailments.

At Novus Medical Detox Center we specialize in helping people more comfortably and safely withdraw from OxyContin, Vicodin, methadone, antidepressants and other unneeded or unwanted drugs. If you know of someone that wants to become free of drugs please contact us. We will help.

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