Salt (or sodium chloride) is, above all, indispensable to living beings. It plays a role in many vital functions. The quantity of water in the body, blood pressure, osmotic pressure, pH, etc., are regulated by salt. In addition, chloride plays a determining role in digestion by allowing the formation of gastric juices. It also allows carbon dioxide to circulate in the blood. As for sodium, it is especially essential for the exchange of nutrients, nerve transmissions and muscular contractions.
Salt is thus essential for health. Too much or too little of it may lead to medical problems. This is why nutritionists give dietary recommendations. In temperate regions such as France, needs are estimated to be of about 3 to 4 grams of salt per day. Real consumption, though, is higher, above 8 grams.
Salt has long been believed to have therapeutic virtues. Its presumed purifying power and supposed faculty of regeneration have resulted in its widespread use in medicine since ancient times. All sorts of ills have been treated with salt: bites, burns, infections, warts, tooth aches, gum problems, etc.
And salt is still used in medicine today: it is used in drips to treat wounded patients having lost much blood, patients in a state of weakness or suffering from extreme burns.
Hydrotherapy is another therapeutic use for salt. Through all times, the virtues of salty waters have been used empirically. Scientific studies have since shown their efficacy in treating various conditions.
At Salins-les-Bains, the properties of the city’s salty waters were determined in the 1840s by Doctor Claude-Marie Germain. They were later used to treat lymphatic system conditions, urinary, gynecological and rhumatological problems, scurvy, paraplegia, impotence, sterility and rickets.
Salins-les-Bains thus became a hydrotherapy centre attracting an international clientele. The thermal resort was founded in 1853 by Jean-Marie Grimaldi and was soon joined by a large hotel with its baths, casino and park. Since then, medical activity has become specialised and relaxation and fitness have developed.
To see: The thermal resort, the Grand Hôtel des Bains and the casino, all in the centre of Salins-les-Bains. Follow the Gabelous Trail to a point between the "Grande Saline" and the "Puits à Muire".