South Korea’s Unique Bamboo Salt Shows Anti-Cancer and Anti-Aging Effects: Study

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Bamboo salt (Jugyeom) has been used in South Korea for more than 1,000 years. Apart from being a condiment, it is also used to treat various diseases. Following previous studies that confirmed its anti-aging and anti-cancer effects, a recent study in South Korea found that bamboo salt can eliminate the Helicobacter pylori that are the culprit inducing gastric ulcers and gastric cancer.

The research group of Prof. Moon Jae-Hak of the School of Food Science and Technology at Chonnam National University in South Korea has recently confirmed through experiments on mice that a better synergistic effect can be obtained in treating Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) by adopting normal “Triple Therapy” complemented with bamboo salt.

Effectiveness Against Cause of Gastric Ulcers and Cancers

H. pylori infection is the most common cause of gastritis and peptic ulcer disease worldwide and increases the risk of gastric cancer. The chance of infection normally increases with age. About 50 percent of people in the United States over 60 have been infected with Helicobacter pylori. Black people, Hispanics, and Asians are among the most vulnerable ethnic groups in this respect.

The standard treatment, called “Triple Therapy” for H. pylori has always been by using 1 proton pump inhibitor, plus 2 antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and clarithromycin.” However, with the gradual increase in antibiotic resistance, there is a need to find alternative therapies.

Antibiotic resistance among H. pylori infections is found to be on the rise. And occasionally, it is not completely eradicated even after using different eradication regimens.

To find out how effective bamboo salt is in reducing the antibiotic resistance rate of H. pylori, the research team first infected some 4-week-old male mice with H. pylori, and then divided the mice into a traditional medicine group (triple therapy), bamboo salt group (triple therapy + bamboo salt), and bay salt group (triple therapy + bay salt). Five days later, it found that the inflammatory cytokines of the mice in the bamboo salt group decreased the most, and the inflammatory cytokines in the bay salt group were also slightly inhibited.

According to the research team, triple therapy combined either with bamboo salt or bay salt can both effectively eliminate H. pylori. The reason may be that “both bamboo salt and bay salt can reduce oxidative stress (reactive oxygen) in cells.”

The research findings were published in the Nov. 13, 2022, edition of the “International Journal of Molecular Science.”

Park Gun-young, a professor at the College of Integrative Medicine at Cha University of Medicine in South Korea, who has done a lot of research on bamboo salt, told The Epoch Times on Dec. 19, “although bamboo salt is just one kind of salt, after being baked in a bamboo tube for a long time, it acquires a number of new effects. Besides its curing effect on oral cancer, gastric cancer, liver cancer, and the like, it also shows such effects as an anti-inflammatory, weight loss, immune-boosting, and anti-skin aging, all of which have been confirmed by research.”

Another study in South Korea also showed that bamboo salt has a good anti-cancer effect. This is particularly prominent for the bamboo salt that has undergone baking nine times.

Park’s research team at the Department of Food Bioengineering, Cha University Medical College, injected bamboo salt and refined salt baked once three times and nine times into mice and compared their inhibitory ability on spleen cancer cells.

The cytotoxicity test results show that the anti-cancer effect of bamboo salt is higher than that of refined salt, with bamboo salt baked nine times, showing the best effect than those baked just 1 or 3 times.

Refined salt is also called processed salt or fine salt. It is the salt that is crystallized again after impurities removal. But with the reduced impurities, some trace elements are also removed after processing. Sometimes iodine is added to make iodized salt specially used in treating thyroid gland abnormalities.

The research results were published on July 29, 2021, in the latest edition of “Study on Bioactivity of Food and Drug Homologous Products,” an international academic journal in food and medicine.

Anti-Aging Effects

Professor Park’s research group also found that bamboo salt inhibits skin aging.

The research group irradiated hairless mice with ultraviolet rays to induce skin aging, then applied bamboo salt to the skin and researched the skin’s epidermal state, protein content, and antioxidant enzymes. It was found that the state of the epidermis of the rats coated with bamboo salt was not much different from that of the rats that had not been exposed to ultraviolet light, indicating that bamboo salt has inhibited skin aging caused by the latter.

In addition, the study found that the skin of rats treated with bamboo salt had higher levels of collagen and elastin than rats exposed to only UV rays. The mice coated with bamboo salt are more reactive to the enzymes SOD and CAT, which function as antioxidants on the skin.

The findings show that bamboo salt has anti-oxidation, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory effects.

The results were published in the Oct. 2018 edition of the “International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology.”

In addition, the international journal “HSOA Journal of Food Science and Nutrition” published a study on the composition of bamboo salt on Sep. 5, 2016. The research took the bamboo salt samples produced by Insan Bamboo Salt, an eminent bamboo salt enterprise in South Korea, and analyzed its mineral composition and content. It was found to contain most of the minerals the human body needs. It was mentioned in the paper that Insan bamboo salt as a source of essential minerals is worth noting.

History and Craftsmanship of Bamboo Salt

According to the Encyclopedia of Korean National Culture, bamboo salt originated from one Korean Silla dynasty eminent monk named Jinpyo, who first made it under the inspiration of God and used bamboo salt to save people from diseases. The secret recipe and manufacturing processes have been documented and handed down by the abbot of Gaeamsa Temple in Jeolla-buk Do. Before the development of modern medicine, it was used as a folklore medicine to treat various diseases in South Korea.

South Korean bamboo salt is made by packing bay salt into a thick bamboo stem, blocking the ends with loess, and then baking it nine times using pine firewood. Bay salt is a general term for salt produced by evaporating seawater or salt lake water. It undergoes fewer process steps than table salt and retains all its trace minerals.

The production process requires that all raw materials, such as bay salt, bamboo, and loess used, must come from the west coast of South Korea to produce high-quality bamboo salt. During baking, toxins and impurities in the bay salt will be vaporized and removed, while the active ingredients of bamboo and loess will be coalesced to become healthy salt.

South Korea industrialized bamboo salt after the mid-1980s and bamboo salt-related products gradually increased, leading to its usage becoming more diversified. In addition to being used as oral medicine and cooking, bamboo salt also finds its way into the production of daily necessities such as toothpaste, soap, cosmetics, and the like. Bamboo salt powder is also added to daily food items such as soy sauce, soybean paste, kimchi, and other cooking pastes. Research on bamboo salt is also on-going.

Lisa Bian

Lisa Bian is a Korea-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on Korean society, its culture, and international relations.

Harry McKenny

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