Friday 2 September 2011

I'm a Salty Wench

Bob continues to go all WWF on my body.  Brain cells have left the building, along with my bp, pulse pressure, and the ability to ablute like a normal person.  So I thought I'd put up the post I initially tried to schedule pre-hospital admission.  Obviously my brain was firing on all cylinders that day as it failed to post. 

One of the strangest parts of having Bob, is our need for salt.  People look at you crazy when you say you have a health condition where you must have salt.  And not just a little salt.  As my cardiologist says, "if you can still taste your food, you're not having enough salt".  Whilst the rest of the population is doing everything in their power to decrease their salt intake to aid vascular health, we Bobettes are mugging cows for their salt licks.

There is only one form of Bob that should avoid salt, Hyperadrenergic POTS, but the rest of us need to live on a saltpan.  I still remember the look on the poor OT's face when I was in hospital and she handed me the stock standard cardiac health book, with it's anti-salt campaign.  It's hard for others to understand.  When I tell my GP that I often just have a teaspoon of salt in the morning she looks horrified.  Yes GP I am living in crazy town and it's full of salt loving freaks.

One of my medications even requires salt to work.  It's on the little information sheet that comes with the bottle.  I only scanned the sheet so I'm not sure if it mentioned tequila and lemon as an additional requirement, but it only seems logical that they'd also make it work better.

I collect salt sachets everywhere I go.  A bowl of sachets on a shop counter really is an invitation to take what you need.  Just because my need is larger than most, shouldn't stop me from clearing them out.  And really I'm performing a public service by removing the salty temptation from others who need to lead a salt-free life.  It's all very Mother Teresa.

I carry a stash of salt sachets everywhere these days.  In my purse, in my handbag, in the glovebox of the car.  You just never know when you're going to need that salt hit to get your bp up.  I don't advise keeping the sachets in your coin purse though.  I know from my own early rookie mistake, that the gross metallic taste can permeate those little paper packages and make you gag.
(My purse salt sachet stash)

I have a good knowledge of emergency salt sources for the times where my brain fog has let me leave the house without a single grain.  Burger Rings (1140mg per 100gm) are one of the best sources.  They have the added bonus of making me feel like I'm 12 again, especially when I wear them as rings on my fingers.  And I like to think of a packet of Thins (596mg per 100gms) as purely medicinal.   Not to mention my encyclopaedic knowledge of the most salty foods eg fetta and miso.  And the joy of brine.  Mmmmm......brine.  How I love thee.
(And now the Lindt gods have smiled on me and combined chocolate with salty goodness.  
This can now qualify as purely medicinal.  Thank you.  Oh thank you.)

I make my own flavoured salts which I use at home.  Herbed salts are what I mostly make, but you can add pretty much anything.  And it's so easy that you can make it with complete success in the midst of a shocker of a brain fog.

All you need is:
  • An old coffee grinder.  You really need to dedicate this grinder to future salt production unless you like your caffeine with a salty/herby/spicey aftertaste.  I found this out the hard way after a less than pleasant mug of salty, fennel seed coffee.
  • Good quality salt.  When I can afford it I buy a good quality sea salt flake or a Murray River Pink Salt.  Ironic that the area of my youth that was decimated by salinity, now produces tasty salt to sprinkle on my fries. 
  • Herbs dried or fresh. My favourite is rosemary, but thyme is a close second. You can use a softer leaf herb such as basil or oregano but the moisture content can make it a bit too moist if you're not careful.
  • Spices.  Fennel seed is great.  As are everything from chilli flakes to cumin.  And Szechuan pepper is yummo on calamari.
  • Citrus rind.  Any citrus will work, though I have a preference for lemons or Tahitian limes.  Use a microplane (which maybe my favourite kitchen gadget ever) to collect the rind.
I don't really measure quantities as I am more of a measure by sight and feel, cook.  But if I had to guess it's be about:
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup salt
then depending on what flavour you want, add
  • 1tbsp fresh herbs
  • 1 tsp spice/dried herbs
  • 1/2tbsp citrus rind
Then it's simply mix it all together in the coffee grinder.  It also lasts forever thanks to salt's natural preservative qualities.  

My favourite is rosemary and lemon salt.  It's like a little taste of heaven when sprinkled on some home baked potato chips ('fries' for my Nth American friends).

I do have an emergency commercial rosemary sea salt flake by Falksalt.  Which looks a bit like fish food but tastes divine. Must be my Swedish roots that make me love it so.  Kind of why I like smorgasboards, gravad lax, ABBA, and Greta Garbo movies.

(I really want these salt and pepper shakers from here)

Michelle :)

And what would any discussion about salt be without a classic Salt-N-Pepa tune.


  1. Oh my gosh, the French bakery across the street from us do the BEST salted caramel macarons, eating them would be a great way to get some of your salt requirement.(Tell Mr G to swing past Brighton and pick some up for you!)I also saw a 'salted caramel' recipe collection on the Martha Stewart website that looked delicious.

  2. This recipe look good and only four ingredients and two steps.

  3. I've always felt taking large quantities of salt packets from resteraunts is doing my moral duty to prevent heart disease to my fellow man. We really need a salt lick. The nurse at my school keeps a drawer full of packets just for me!

  4. I keep around a bag of pink Himalayan salt with me at all times. My favorite local food coop recently moved to a bigger store and expanded their bulk section, which now includes a few different kinds of salt (and very low price, too). I freak out the nurses at the infusion center, as I munch on salt while I receive my IV as it seems to help me keep it a bit longer.

    Those salt and pepper shakers are AWESOME... Only a Capt Kirk and Mr. Spock salt and pepper shaker set would be cooler!

  5. I was told to expect weight gain and bloat from all the salt, but my waistline got smaller from using it, believe it or not. Perhaps it normalized my fluid metabolism in some way.

    Besides putting salt and/or soy sauce on and in everything, I eat lots of Polish pickles; our local grocery store has a big Polish food section. Cheap, no food coloring, and they settle my stomach better than anything else.

    I also make homemade Gatorade with half water, half orange juice or commercial lemonade, and lots of salt of course....

    1. Oh my I wish this was my experience. I get bloating from the salt tablets which makes me want to dive back into my eating disorder, but if I don't take them I'm cold and dizzy and weak all of the time. The only thing I can think to do is take them and work crazy hard to lose extra weight to make up for the bloat. But it means getting thinner than I've ever been and I don't know how to do that.

  6. I was diagnosed with lymphoma in Feb 2010; live in Fl but sent to Duke University by my oncologist. I'm glad that I went there, even though it was expensive to stay for seven weeks of radiation; I am now free of lymphomas, at least for now. My symptom was a swelling of the lower leg and it was misdiagnosed by four different doctors in three states as a hematoma.

  7. It's so nice to meet other Dysautonomic salt fiends!

  8. Elizabeth - I think I'm going to have to send David on a day trip down to that bakery, it is for medicinal purposes after all. :) Checked out that recipe and I think I'm going to have to make some,they look yum.

    Michele - I like your school nurse!

  9. Ericka - Kirk and Spock shakers would be brilliant. I think I may have to go Google that!

    Amy - I have head a lot of people drink pickle water. Not sure if I'm so keen on that though. I like your homemade Gatorade idea though.

  10. Rachel - hi there it is nice to meet others who understand our need for salt Lol

  11. HAHAHAHA! I love it my parents actually put a salt lick in my back yard just to tease me! Again, thanks for letting me know i'm not the only one!

  12. Joami - we salty freaks need to stick together!!!

  13. Hey! I'm so impressed with your flavoured salts idea! I've just recently been put on salt tablets at a crazy high dose (1200mg 4x a day - seems like more than a lot of POTS sites advise - is that normal?) which I'm not best pleased about since I know the tablets can be hard on your stomach (and I have enough problems there, lol) - I decided to do as the dr's advised for now to try to stabilise things somewhat, but really, I'd prefer to take sea salt since it has better properties and is easier on the stomach. I'll probably try to swap over once things settle down and I get an official diagnosis. (Can't see any other thing it could be but POTS - just haven't ever seen a cardiologist until now, despite 15 years of illess (M.E.) with very obvious POTS symptoms, now I know what to look for! I can't believe I didn't pick it up myself, even though my dr's have been totally clueless and inept!!)

    My problem really is that I hate salt on my food. (Good start, huh??) We use very little to cook with, even, and never salt our food on top of that small amount. So I'm wondering, does it make the salt easier to deal with if you flavour it ... or do you think it would be easier to simply drink a salt water solution a few times a day or something? Gross, but maybe better than salt tablets... man, I don't know!! I think this is going to be a huge adjustment, lol!

  14. Susannah - it does seem a lot, but your doc may have a reason who knows. Pre-getting sick and getting a diagnosis, we were low-no salt and low fat household so the change over has been hard. It takes time for you palette to change and I must admit now I don't notice it so much. I have a lot of gastro issues so I avoid salt tablets, but in food I seem to tolerate it better. Mind you I'm not above just easting a teaspoon of salt these days. Making the flavoured salts I don't notice the salt so much so I can eat more. If you use strong flavoured herbs it tends to override the saltiness. Plus, if you put salt in at the start of cooking it loses flavour quickly, though it's still in there. it's why a lot of chefs say to season at the end of cooking! Good luck with your diagnosis, POTS and all the Dysautonomias are so unknown yet so clear when you see the symptoms.

  15. Yea I wish I'd looked at the prescription he gave me BEFORE leaving his office, lol. Am not seeing him again till December so I guess I just have to get on with it. ;) It seemed a bit odd without even an official diagnosis yet - but then, he did see blood pressure readings I've taken myself (inc a poor man's tilt table test) so maybe that was enough for him to be fairly sure it wasn't good. As you say, who knows!

    It's nice to know that your palette can adapt to the change! I think I may have to try some flavoured salts to see if it's easier! My carer does all my cooking but she eats it too so it makes it a little more difficult since she doesn't need all that salt. Maybe we'll have to try separate pans or something. Hmm.

    Thanks! I'm just really glad that I spent the majority of the last year doing heaps of research into all my symptoms because I was sick of having so little medical support and not knowing why different things were happening. And as you say, knowing even a little about it, it really is SO clear that that's what's happening to me. Just in the nick of time too since the orthostatic intolerance has really kicked it up a notch over the last year. (I'm completely bedbound now ... not just the POTS of course, but it sure isn't helping!!!)

    Anyway - so nice to meet you. Will be following your blog as and when I'm able to. :)

  16. Love your sense of humor. ;-) I haven't been diagnosed yet, but dysautonomia is on the possibility list.


  17. Thank you so much for this blog, I was diagnosed with POTS last year after 2 years and something like 10 GPs and 8 specialists. Recently I've been feeling really isolated especially a there seems to be no information for australian patients - that was until I found this blog! This article made me legitimately laugh out loud and the fact that other people get where I am coming from and share my borderline insane salt habits and day to day life is really comforting!


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