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With Spring in our step, we drove onto a Brittany Ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff last Sunday. It was the start of our occasojnal pilgrimage to stock up on Celtic Sea Salt from the marshes where it’s been harvested since the 3rd Century.

We couldn’t resist starting the Brittany leg of the journey with a strong early morning coffee and croissants in a harbour cafe.

We’re sending this out to you from the Medieval walled town of Guérande.

We first travelled here in 1997, not just to buy salt but also to speak with the Paludiers (salt farmers) whose profession has been guided entirely by Nature.

There’s an abundance of cafes, crêperies, bars and restaurants with great food and superb French hospitality in which to unwind after a journey.

Celtic Sea Salt – Sel de Guerande

The salt bays in the Guerande marshes near St. Nazaire are the last haven of an ancient traditional craft dating back over centuries.  Back then Brittany supplied half of France with salt, a figure that’s since dwindled to half a percent.  Almost all of that is the delicious unrefined grey sea salt, loved by the leading French chefs and bakers. 

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The geographical orientation of the coastline also plays such an important part in the quality of naturally extracted Celtic Sea Salt. The ocean water is channelled into pristine ponds, edged with natural waterways, wild grasses and other green plants. 

The wind and the sun evaporate the ocean water, leaving a mineral-rich brine.  The live flowing mixture is briskly stimulated by the salt farmer’s actions, and within hours the dazzling crystals form and are gathered by hand.

This method used for gathering salt from natural flats is crucial to the production.

The devastating effects of refined salt

Today every common table salt is artificial and sadly pales beside the real sea salt. Out of the richest spectrum of 92 essential minerals found in the ocean, the industrial refined variety retains only two! Debased white salt deserves its bad name.

In the process of refinement salt is harvested mechanically from dirt or concrete basins with bulldozers and piped through metal conduits. It is then subjected to a degrading artificial processing, heated to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit to break open its molecular structure.

At this point it is robbed of all its minerals and trace elements before being further adulterated by chemical additives to make it free-flowing, bleached and iodized.

Refined salt is often labeled as ‘Sea Salt’ in supermarkets and ‘Natural Sea Salt’ in health food shops, so be careful what you buy, especially with deceptive phrases like “With added magnesium”.

What is the effect of refined salt on women?

From Jacques de Langre the “Salt Doctor’: “When trace minerals are absent from the salt a woman uses, ACTH, the adrenocorticotropic hormone, begins to affect her glands, from the pituitary to the adrenal cortex. These strong male hormones, the androgens, become overpowering and tend to change female female characteristics into aggressive male traits by stimulating the adrenal cortex.

There are uniquely feminine internal secretions of the ovaries; the estrogens, the luteins, and the folliculins; when these are replaced by the male androgens, the exquisite femininity disappears. This can all be caused by the use of white refined salt.

Women are highly intuitive by nature.  In order to maintain this trait, their food and their salt need to need to be selected differently than for men.   Fleur de Sel is an ideal feminine salt.  Women become unhappy when they take too much meat, fish, cheese, or refined salt. When they do indulge in these, women will often suffer from menstrual irregularities. If they love at all they usually choose men with passive obedient traits, or other women, often the kind that are also more submissive. Their delicate feminine balance is lost due to the taking of foods and salts that are contrary to the intuitive character of their sex.

The reproductive system functions as well as a calm and harmonious mood in both men and women are influenced and determined by the health of the kidneys.  A breakdown in the gonad performance is caused by a failure of the kidneys.  The kidneys are very effective filtration organs.  Without the continuous cleansing they provide, the blood would become so toxic that a person would die in a matter of days. It is because of their busy schedule that they are often tired and overtaxed.

Refined salt produces pain, aches or tightness in the back, indicating a problem in the kidney function. Nearly everyone who uses refined salt experiences this at some time or another, and a stepped up liquid intake relieves the problem only very briefly. This only compounds the problem, since the kidneys now have a greater volume of water as well as hard refined salt in the form of kidney stones to contend with and try to eliminate.  This overwork makes them weaker, resulting in a lowering of sexual energy in both men and women.

Natural salt allows liquids to freely cross membranes, the kidney’s glomerulus and blood vessel walls. Whenever the sodium chloride concentration rises in the blood, the water in the neighbouring tissues is attracted to that salt-rich blood. Then, if they are functioning properly, the kidneys remove the saline fluids easily.  Refined salt does not allow this free crossing of liquids and minerals, and causes accumulated fluids to stagnate in joints, producing oedema and chronic kidney problems.”

High Blood Pressure and Refined Salt

According to Jacques de Langre,high blood-pressure problems lie not in salt intake but in an overactive hormone system. When this system is overactive, renin levels are excessively high indicating a psychological need for salt.  Salt starvation can occur if the patient is put on a low salt diet.  On the other hand low renin levels which occur in a third of hypertensive people actually reveal a sodium excess.  Only patients in the latter group should lower their sodium intake.

Factors that influence blood pressure are heart rate, changes in blood volume and the contraction and dilation of blood vessels.  A change in any one of these factors providing the other two remain constant, will have a direct effect on blood pressure.  Blood pressure is regulated via the dilation and constriction of blood vessels, the control of blood volume and heart rate. A healthy cardiovascular system may be maintained through regular aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, rebounding, cycling, tennis, ski-ing (water or snow) or swimming.

Fleur De Sel

This is the caviar of French salts. Master Chefs and Bakers would not be without Fleur de Sel.  Even a pinch of it can wake up your taste buds and transform a meal.

The delicate and fine moist granules of creamy-white unrefined Fleur de Sel sea salt are traditionally harvested by women by skimming the surface of the sea water of the salt marshes.

The Salt Marshes (looking towards Guérande) 

The History of Salt

Salt didn’t make history but contributed greatly to it.  As frugal as they were, our ancestors always had salt with their meals.  Salt was so precious and vital that in early Rome, soldiers were paid with daily handfuls of salt, later changed to a sum of money; the salarium.  

In the Middle Ages, the salarium became the sol, – the sou – which funded the wages of the military.  The salary became the privilege of the civil servants who became known as the salaried.  Throughout the ages, salt continued to be the source of intense commerce and was associated with the discovery of Newfoundland and the exploration of its Grand Banks cod.  The reason for this is that until the nineteenth century, salt was the only preservative of food.

This important role of preservative made salt a good choice for taxation in countries all over the world. There were 25,000 salt tax collectors in eighteenth century France!  Their demands were such that Vauban, a highly placed government official had regrets: “Salt is a gift from God, a blessing for humanity, that it should be exempt from taxation.”  

But the salt tax was not abolished completely until 1945.  Except for being subject to an ordinary federal tax, all that is left of this ancient regime is that it is still illegal to take more than one litre of salt water from the sea without authorisation from the Minister of France!

By next week we hope to have these salts available through our website.

Graeme Dinnen

Barbara O’Neill on Celtic Sea Salt (3:26).


  • martha says:

    Hi Graeme
    That is so interesting…….I use Fleur de sal from Portugal and it is very tasty! So I imagine that it is feminine as the French one?
    Yet my grandmother used ordinary table salt, as we all did years ago!….she loved the flavor of salt…and she was never sick, lived until 96 years….In TCM a salty person is a sexy person!!!!
    Hope the break was healing for Phylipa

    • Just back last night.

      I know that whole coastline of Europe has little areas of salt harvesting. All I can say is that the quality depends on the underlying soil.
      I’m sure the Portuguese Fleur de Sea is just a good.

      No problem with the occasional ship sinking nearby as the sodium in salt acts as a cleanser.

  • martha says:

    Hi Graeme
    That is so interesting…….I use Fleur de sal from Portugal and it is very tasty! So I imagine that it is feminine as the French one?
    Yet my grandmother used ordinary table salt, as we all did years ago!….she loved the flavor of salt…and she was never sick, lived until 96 years….In TCM a salty person is a sexy person!!!!
    Hope the break was healing for Phylipa

    got a strange response from the bot which told me I had already said that???????

  • Juliet says:

    Another wonderful article!

  • Graeme says:

    Always a pleasure researching and creating these articles


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