Food and You -Page 2

Seven Planetary Grains


Seasalt is without question the single most important substance we ingest on a daily basis when we are eating macrobiotically. On the quality and quantity of the salt we use in our cooking rests a significant clue as to whether or not our macrobiotic practice is working for us. There are several reasons for this assertion, the most important being that of all the foods we eat on a daily basis, seasalt is the most yang - that is, the most contracting, condensing, hardening. The very strong contracting tendency of seasalt (which I think is accentuated in table salt) means that overuse of it will cause any yin toxins in the body to be trapped in a vise-like grip. Once this occurs, it is

a.) a very difficult, long and ardous process for the body to get the excess salt out of the body

b.) extremely difficult for the body to heal itself as a result.


Four Cautionary Tales about Seasalt.

The Young Man.

To give you some idea of how hardening seasalt is I once saw a man who had been working at a natural salt processing facility in Europe and had spent several years there. He had taken in so much seasalt by working there and using it indiscriminately in his eating, he presented a pitiful picture of a man who had literally become almost totally "mineralized". He walked, if you could call it that, with a pair of crutches, barely able to move one leg in front of the other, his back a rod of iron and he could only turn his head to look left or right by moving his whole body, his head bent over at the neck so he looked like a hunch- back - and he was only 22 years old.

The Young Lady.

I also knew a lady who when she began her macrobiotic practice had recently been on the cover of Vogue Magazine. I met her eight to ten years after she had started macrobiotics and she looked like an old woman - brown, leathery skin, swollen ankles and lower legs, huge bags under her eyes. On inquiring how she had developed this condition she replied it was from too much seasalt. She related how when she had started her macrobiotic practice it was common practice to use anything from 1/2 -1 teaspoon, or more, of seasalt per cup of grain in cooking, a tablespoonful of miso per bowl of soup, an umeboshi plum a day and, on top of these extremely contracting elements, eat 60% grains, 30% vegetables, of which the majority were root vegetables!

She went on to say how when it dawned on her that her problems were from eating too much seasalt in her diet, and she resolved to try and get rid of the excess seasalt in her body. On her first attempt, she took a fresh lemon and squeezed out all the juice, poured it into a cup of kukicha (roasted twig tea) and drank it. Instantly, within seconds of ingesting the lemon-tea, her ankles began to swell up and they became so swollen that the skin of her ankles, the ankles themselves now completely obliterated by the grotesque swelling, burst, and began to bleed profusely. This incident had occurred a couple of years before she related the incident and she said nothing she had tried since had succeeded in dissolving the excessive salt in her body.

The Old Timer.

A third example comes from a man I knew who was a most interesting and instructive example of what can occur when one consumes too much seasalt on a macrobiotic dietary regimen. He had begun his macrobiotic life ten-twelve years before I knew him. One day he came to the room where I was staying and he showed me a photograph of him taken about five years after he had started his macrobiotic life and I couldn't believe that the man sitting next to me was the same person pictured in the photograph.

The photographic image of the man showed a person who was full of life and vitality, a bright aura shone in his face, full of joy. Whereas the same man sitting next to me looked much older than his years, dark, grim, stiff-jawed, with the demeanor of a particularly surly sergeant in charge of boot camp. A startling contrast, to say the least.

We, him and me and a few other people we knew, were in the habit of foraging for wild plants in the urban empty lots and parks near were we lived. One memorable day, after we had spent the morning foraging and digging up wild plants like dandelion, burdock, wild onions, japanese knotweed, and wild parsnips, we brought them home. We then washed and cleaned them and put them in bunches prior to make the rounds of natural food stores who would buy them from us to sell to their customers. After we had gotten done dropping off the last lot of wild vegetables, we were driving home, around four o'clock in the afternoon, and he asked us if we would like to stop off for a beer.

I am not inclined to drink alcohol, except once or twice a year, but I felt this would be okay since it would be a way to get to know everybody better and celebrate our arduous day. Of, course, I also had the impression that 'stop in for a beer' literally meant we would all have a beer and chat awhile and then come home for dinner.

Little did I know. It turned out that this man's idea of "stopping in for a beer" was to spend the entire evening in the bar drinking glasses of Guinness beer alternating with irish whiskey. Furthermore, he became less talkative the more he drank, becoming positively surly if I did try to engage him in conversation; mostly he sat over the bar brooding like some disconsolate bird of prey, only speaking to demand I have another drink with him, becoming angry if I had the temerity to even give the suggestion I would pass up on a drink. Thus, I spent the evening humoring him by accepting each drink he offered, feeling if I didn't the worse it would be for me.

As for our companions, I do not recall what happened to them. I feel they slunk off one by one, slipping out of the bar when he wasn't looking. Meanwhile I had the problem of maintaining my composure; that is, staying on my feet, while drinking more alcohol in one evening than I had in the previous several years combined.

This is where my studies of yin and yang came to my aid. I knew alcohol is extremely yin and therefore I had to either eat or do something yang to balance its effects as best I could. I did eat some salty pretzels but it became apparent to me that they were having no effect at all, as the room began to sway dangerously. I then remembered from my studies that the mid-brain is the area of the nervous system which is particularly impaired by excessive yin, so I began to periodically give myself karate chops with the side of my hand to the back of my neck in order to yangize my mid-brain. It worked beautifully. I maintained my feet and my composure and when we finally left the bar around 10.30 PM, I had to carry my companion home the best I could.

The following morning, around 7.00 AM, I was awakened by my companion of the night before going outside the house. I quickly got out of bed to look out the window and there he was jauntily walking down the street, whistling a gay tune in the morning sunlight. I was dumbfounded; this was the same man who was so inebriated not even ten hours earlier that he could not have gotten home without my aid, and he gave no indication at all of a hangover. Far from it, he looked like he hadn't had a drop of alcohol in his life.

Later I inquired of our companions of our evening with this man whether he had done this kind of thing before and I was informed he did it almost every night! Well, this really puzzled me and I began to study him every day. Then I forgot about the whole incident until a few years later I heard he had died of liver cancer.

What I learned from this man is the extraordinary power of seasalt. He, like many of that era of macrobiotics in the United States (1965-1980) were like the lady in the earlier story - they consumed excessive quantities of seasalt over the years. In her case, she became old before her time; in his, the extremely yangizing effect of the seasalt drove him to seek out some form of extreme yin (and please let it be duly noted that everyone is subject to the dynamics of yin and yang - if we become too yang we seek out yin and if we become too yin, we seek out yang; the problem is that if we are not studying yin and yang assiduously, we do not know what we are doing and we become out-of-balance with respect to the "order in all creation" - a succinct description of modern life - if you could call it that!) which in his case was consuming prodigious quantities of alcohol, on a daily basis, which eventually lead to his early demise from liver cancer.

My Personal Experience.

Now, lest it be thought from the above tales that we should avoid seasalt at all costs, I had an interesting experience a few years ago. I was working as a breakfast cook at a macrobiotic restaurant and this entailed me getting around 5.00 AM, cycling to the place, preparing breakfast for around 20-30 people, serving it to them, cleaning up afterward and then coming home around 9.30 -10 AM. This was not a schedule I was used to at the time and I was getting tired. As time went on I found myself taking a nap every afternoon for 2 hours or so, and getting gradually more and more fatigued generally. I was also losing weight - and I have weighed around 135 -140 lbs since I lost my excessive weight on initially starting macrobiotics in 1975 - getting below 130lbs.

After a few weeks of gradually losing more weight, losing my appetite, and getting weaker and weaker, I finally decided that I should be used to my new schedule and that couldn't be the reason why I was continuing to deteriorate. So, I took a close look at the way I was eating and came to the conclusion that I was not using enough seasalt in my cooking, and this lack of seasalt was the main reason why I was not eating enough, as well as why I was feeling so fatigued all the time. So, for about 10 days I ate an umeboshi plum every day, increased the seasalt to a measured 1/8 teaspoonful (prior to this I was just putting in a pinch of seasalt) per cup of grain. And, lo, within a couple of weeks I was feeling great, plenty of vitality, and soon put back on the weight I had lost.

Discourse on Seasalt.

These stories tell us of the singular importance of seasalt and how imperative it is we eat good quality seasalt in the right quantities for us.

So, why do we need to eat seasalt anyway? This has to do with our evolution. From the perspective of the spiritual science of Anthroposophy the evolution of the earth and humanity is a co-evolution; that is to say, human beings, albeit in a radically different form from that we have today, have always been present along with the earth even prior to the earth being a physical planet.

In the very earliest epoch of the present stage of earth evolution (for more details on the spiritual evolution of the earth and humanity please consult "An Outline of Occult Science" by Rudolf Steiner), called the Polarian epoch, the earth was a spiritual "body" in which the earliest spiritual form of the human physical body was embedded. As evolution proceeded, the earth became more condensed so a solid core formed surrounded by water. The human being of this time lived in the water. As time went on, gradually dry land began to appear and the human being came out on dry land, bringing with us in the form of our bloodstream and tissue fluids that ancient water in which we lived, the primeval ocean.

This ancient ocean was saline, although the concentration of salt was far less than that of present-day oceans. Thus, our blood and tissue fluids need to be of a slightly saline concentration for us to be healthy. We ensure this is so by eating the right quality and quantity of seasalt in our daily eating.

Now, in my experience the best quality seasalt available is SI-Salt. The quality of this seasalt is unsurpassed as it is the only seasalt that is both harvested naturally from the Pacific Ocean in an area free (at least, relatively speaking) of pollution and then stoneground.

The significance of the seasalt being stoneground is that, in contradistinction to the hammermilling using high speed drill hammers which is how all the other sea salts are ground up, the stonegrinding does not damage the structural integrity of the seasalt crystals. This means the 'chi' of the seasalt does not dissipate as it does when the crystals are damaged, thus ensuring a higher quality of seasalt. If you have difficulty in getting it from your local natural food store, then ask them to order it from David Jackson at NorSouth Products, PO Box 12412, Prescott, AZ 86304. If you cannot get the SI-salt, then Lima Seasalt is adequate, and I believe Eden Seasalt is Lima Seasalt.

Avoid Celtic Gray SeaSalt at all times. It has been asked of me why I advise against the use of Celtic Gray Seasalt. This is the result of my experiences of using it myself for a month as well as working with and knowing people who have used it over a number of years. For example, I am sure a senior teacher ( I have removed the name today, 2/1/01, as a result of a threat of a lawsuit by a family member), early demise from heart failure was the result of use of Celtic Gray Seasalt. Also, I remember a lady (a fellow student with me at the Kushi Institute in 1979-80) asking me for a counseling in 1987, and I was surprised she asked me but I agreed. When we sat down for the session the first question I asked her was what kind of seasalt she was using as it was evident from facial diagnosis that her kidneys were in a bad way. She replied she was using gray seasalt. I strongly recommended she quit using any salt at all for a few weeks and then to start using Lima Seasalt (SI-salt was not available at the time). I never saw her again.

However, a year or so later I bumped into someone who knew her well and I asked her how this lady was doing and I was informed she was on dialysis. I replied, "You gotta be kidding me! Is she still using Celtic gray seasalt?" The reply was, yes, she is still using it. She died a few months later from kidney failure.

In my view, Celtic gray seasalt is a great deal more yang than any other seasalt of which I am aware and is simply not suitable for human consumption on a regular basis.

As for the right amount for each individual, this will vary according to our body type, our condition and our level of activity, as well as where we live in terms of climate, altitude and vicinity to the ocean. Furthermore how much we need to eat will change depending on many factors, the most important of which being our condition. I must also strongly emphasize that there is absolutely no possibility of our digestive functions being able to digest whole grains if they are not cooked with seasalt.

Of course, regular table salt is an unnatural substance and is therefore a poison and to be avoided.

As to specific amounts when we get started on our macrobiotic way of eating, I recommend 1/8 teaspoonful of seasalt per cup of grain in cooking. This has to be measured using a measuring spoon - please avoid the habit of using pinches of seasalt. This is the only instance I recommend using seasalt, in cooking the grains, whether brown rice, oatmeal, millet, barley, or making bread, cookies etc. Other salty items eaten on a regular basis will be 1 teaspoonful of barley miso (aged 2 years or more) per bowl of miso soup and one bowl soup a day (do not use instant miso at all). Also, one umeboshi plum a week. Sesame salt as a general rule will be somewhere between one part seasalt to 14 parts sesame seeds, to one part seasalt to 24 parts sesame seeds and we consume between one and four teaspoonfuls a day as a condiment. Pickles are essential on a daily basis and I recommend either 1-2 Tablespoonfuls of sauerkraut or 2-3 1/4 inch slices of pickled daikon eaten with your grain at lunch and dinner (NOT breakfast).

The above five items are essential to any macrobiotic way of eating when we are starting out and for the first seven years of our practice. Without them the human organism simply will not respond to our ingesting cooked whole grains and vegetables in the manner desired - that is, we feel better, have more vitality, while emotionally we feel calm and stable and centered and mentally, very clear, alert and sharp.

Furthermore, the general response of the human organism to these five items include strengthening of the immune functions, strengthening of the digestive functions and increasingly efficient detoxification and neutralizing of toxins.

There are several signs which indicate whether we are eating too much or too little seasalt, although I must point out that the following lists of indicators as to whether we are eating too little or too much seasalt is not to be treated as a set of hard and fast rules. They are general indicators only and should be used as such.

Too Much Seasalt(or regular salt).

Physical signs to look for include our urination being a dark yellow or brown color, urinating less frequently each day and urinating less at each time. Our stools are small, hard, dark brown in color, sink to the bottom of the toilet bowl and have a slightly acrid odor. We generally have a lot of vitality and feel very vigorous but as we continue to eat too much seasalt we tend to get more and more tired. Also we tend to feel physically stiff. A characteristic feature of eating too much seasalt is feeling tired after dinner and as we are sitting down reading or watching TV, suddenly dozing off in the middle of what we are doing for 30-40 minutes. Also, it is characteristic that eating too much seasalt means we tend to overeat, feeling hungry all the time, consuming a lot of foods while, especially early (the first three - four years) in our macrobiotic practice, not feeling satisfied.

Emotionally we tend to be dry and dispassionate but are given to having explosive outbursts of anger which can be very violent, even physically so. We tend to be more stubborn, closed off and less-than-garrulous in our conversations. Anyone having a conversation with a person eating too much seasalt will get the distinct impression that they are not hearing what is being said by you, as if your words are deflecting off of them as they continue with what they are saying; in other words, a true conversation is not occurring.

Mentally the overall tendency is to be very focused on what we are doing, so much so that when we are involved in what we are doing, we are oblivious to anything else going on on our immediate vicinity - like what is happening around us at work or at home. However, if we are not involved in doing something - reading, writing, cooking, watching TV etc., we tend to be really spaced out.

One interesting feature I have noticed in people who are eating too much seasalt and are experiencing physical symptoms which indicate they are in fact too yang, will themselves always think their problems are from too much yin. In fact, extremely salty people will generally think all problems stem from too much yin and even exhibit a fear of any kind of yin manifestation, while at the same time being very attracted to yin foods (which you cannot help if you are eating too much salt) and eating a lot of sweet foods like ice cream, doughnuts, or drinking beer and alcoholic spirits.

Too Little Seasalt.

We tend to have a lack of appetite, our urination is copious, more frequent and its color is clear and we tend to want to urinate in the night after we have gone to bed. Our stools are loose, green colored and have a strong smell. We are physically more languorous, loose and lacking in vitality, feeling generally tired and dissipated, and lose weight. Physical activities are not that attractive, as we tend to be physically lazy. We tend to be cold all the time.

We tend to be more emotional, more weepy and distracted, easily given over to being whiny and complaining about any and everything that doesn't go right.

Mentally we tend to be unfocused, cannot concentrate, cannot get intellectual tasks started and if we do, have trouble getting them done.


What do do if we have been eating excessive amounts of seasalt(salt).

Again these are general recommendations only:

1.) Cut out all salty foods except the use of seasalt in cooking the whole grains for a period of three to six weeks.

2.) Use any of the following teas to aid in getting the seasalt out of the body - Shiitake Mushroom Tea, Watermelon Concentrate Tea or Cornsilk Tea. Use as part of our daily intake of 3-5 8 oz. glasses. Do this for 3-6 weeks.

3.) Hot steam saunas taken 2-3 times a week for 20-30 minutes for 3-6 weeks.

4.) Soak in hot baths 15-20 minutes 3 x week for 3-6 weeks.

5.) Ginger Compress regimen on the Kidney area.

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Kaare Bursell

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