In Sasang Constitutional Medicine, people of the Tae-yang and So-yang (greater and lesser yang) constitutions need to eat salt.  But we are told by almost everyone, everywhere that salt is bad for all of us.  Is that true?

After reading the article “The Truth About Salt” in Acupuncture Today I was prompted to respond.  The author, Marlene Merritt, COM, Lac, ACN, has pointed out both the limitations of scientific research and how scientific research is conveyed to the public.  Unfortunately, there is a general belief that anything reported as “scientifically proven” is true.  But in some cases this just isn’t so.

Doctor Merritt points out that the most relied upon clinical study on salt’s effect on hypertension was completely flawed for two reasons.

1.  The investigators only reported data that agreed with their hypothesis.  If any subject had an increase in blood pressure from lowering their salt intake, it was assumed that they were not following the diet and their data was discarded and not included in the analysis.

2.  There was more than one variable in the study which might affect hypertension.  The subjects’ diet was low salt, low fat and low calorie.  Since low fat and low calorie diets tend to reduce blood pressure, how can you say that the low salt was reducing hypertension?  Yet the researchers did say that.


Despite this poorly designed and executed study almost everyone agrees that you should eat the lowest amount of salt possible to treat and prevent hypertension and that this has been proven scientifically.  The American Heart Association continues to use this study to promote exceedingly low salt intake.

One cannot say for sure that something has been scientifically proven unless you actually look at the data and protocol.   You must ask, how was this study conducted and were the proper controls in place?  How large was the study, what was the duration, the analysis of the data, etc.?  Was the data even garnered from clinical studies at all or was it done in mice or in a test tube?

Given how some data in this study was discarded, we know that not everyone responded as predicted.  In Korean Sasang Constitutional Medicine people of one constitution will often have a reduction in their blood pressure when increasing their salt intake while people of another constitution will lower their blood pressure by reducing salt.

In the future it would be valuable to test the effect of salt on hypertension in the four constitutions of Sasang Medicine.  The old adage indeed may be correct, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”.

Disclaimer:  The information in this blog is intended to show an example of the benefits of Sasang Constitutional Medicine and should not be used in the absence of a diagnosis. The remedy for one constitution is often completely wrong for another constitution.

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to be a substitute for personal, professional, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.