Blog | Friday, March 13, 2009

Pass the salt...and turn that frown upside down

We noted a while back that choosing between alcohol and abstinence may be akin to choosing between cancer and a heart attack. New research ups the ante a bit with another food-related choice: Would you rather by happy, or have low blood pressure?

Physicians have long labored to get hypertensive patients to cut down on salt, but new research suggests salt is a natural antidepressant. University of Iowa psychologists found that when rats are deficient in sodium chloride, they hang back from their favorite hobbies, "like pressing a metal bar that stimulates a pleasant sensation in their brains." (Hmm, do they make human-sized versions of this bar?)

Further, reports ScienceDaily: "Another strong aspect of addiction is the development of intense cravings when drugs are withheld. Experiments by Johnson and colleagues indicate similar changes in brain activity whether rats are exposed to drugs or salt deficiency."

Could salt-addiction treatment centers be on the horizon?