Eating too much salt is not healthy, but breathing in salt air is healthy and can provide tremendous relief for allergy, colds and respiratory distress. We have had saunas and steam rooms for years. Now we have salt rooms.
Living in an industrialized society, we are continually exposed to pollutants and irritants that cause allergies and respiratory problems. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. We spend thousands of dollars on medications and doctors for treatment and relief. Now there is a simpler and natural way to treat breathing discomfort.
For centuries workers in the salt mines of Eastern Europe and Russia rarely experienced any respiratory problems or diseases. Europe has always capitalized on this fact by building salt room spas where clients inhale salt-air to relieve respiratory discomfort and to relax.
The old salt mines in Russia where citizens were once sentenced to work, have been transformed into therapy clinics where patients pay to sleep on beds in alcoves carved out of walls of salt.
The US has become interested in salt air therapy and many cities are setting up their own salt-air spas.
Salt as a healer
The healing benefits of salt have been known since the days of Hippocrates. Salt has medicinal and antiseptic properties. Salt air is good for us.
Smelling and breathing fresh salt air makes us feel good. Living or vacationing near the ocean makes us happy. People who live near the Mediterranean and other oceans seem to have good health, good skin and a sense of well-being.
Salt helps the respiratory system by drawing moisture into the airways, thinning the mucous in the nose, sinuses and lungs. Salt air therapy is 100% natural, and is intended to complement not replace medical treatment. Salt air is safe for children. A doctor should be consulted before undergoing any treatment.
Without salt we cannot live. Our bodies naturally produce 0.9 percent of this mineral. The fact that salt cave workers rarely suffer from tuberculosis or other respiratory illnesses led to the development of speleotherapy or halotherapy in rooms where individuals can inhale salt air from rock salt crystals. Salt air therapy rooms are now becoming popular in the USA.
Visiting a salt room
Speleotherapy or salt air room (cave) therapy has not been used widely in the US because of the cost of importing salt bricks and building salt rooms outside the area where salt bricks naturally occur. Russia and Eastern Europe have many salt mines and caves.
The walls, ceiling and floor of a salt room are lined with the salt bricks which give off pure salt vapor under controlled temperature and humidity. Moist salt air may also be blown into a room by the use of special salt air generators. The air in the salt room smells like the ocean and leaves a salty taste on the lips.
Clients change into a thin robe and can rest and relax in the salt room. They usually leave feeling relaxed, refreshed and breathe easier. Some even say their skin looks better. Sessions of one hour cost $45 and up.
There may be some coughing up of mucous for awhile and 2-3 days between sessions is advised.
Pros and cons of salt air therapy:
Salt air therapy is not recommended for those with high blood pressure or those under going cancer treatment. Asthma patients should consult their physician first.
Patients with cystic fibrosis have shown improvement.
Salt inhalation therapy can be used on a smaller scale. TV’s Dr. Oz recommends a personal sized salt inhaler and solution. There are also saline nose drops, salt pipes and salt air cocoons for home use. Nebulizers contain a salt solution which is vaporized and inhaled..
Salt air therapy may be just what we need for our stuffy noses and sinuses. Tampa has the nation’s first speleotherapy salt room spa “Breathing Clear” which opened this year. Look for a salt room near you.
The Wall Street Journal: WSJ.com
St. Pete Times