- 3. What is the difference between a salt room and salt bed?
- 4. What should I expect to experience in a Breathe Salt Room?
- 5. What should I expect to experience in a Breathe Salt Bed?
- 6. What clothing should be worn in the salt room and salt bed?
- 7. What are the side effects?
- 8. How often should you come?
- 9. Who can benefit from Salt Therapy?
- Can Halotherapy heal respiratory ailments?
- The verdict: salt caves are great for mental health
- … but I’m still on the fence about it helping my allergies
- MORE I TRIED ITS
- How to Create an At-Home Salt Room for Halotherapy (Guide)
- What is Halotherapy?
- What is a Salt Room?
- Why Should I Build an At-Home Salt Room?
- At-Home Salt Therapy Options
- Personal Salt Room Basics
- At-Home Salt Room Wall Options
- At-Home Salt Room Flooring Options
- At-Home Salt Room Lighting
- DIY Salt Room Seating
- At-Home Salt Room Sound
- DIY Salt Room Décor and Accessories
- Is the Salt Room Therapy Trend Really Worth the Hype?
- What Is Salt Therapy?
- How It Works
- Health Benefits
- Promising or Placebo? Halo Salt Therapy: Resurgence of a Salt Cave Spa Treatment
- Do Salt Rooms Really Work
- Salt Therapy
- How and Why It Works
The salt is grounded into tiny micro particles by our state-of-the-art halogenerator and then dispersed into the salt room or bed. While relaxing in one of our salt rooms or beds, customers inhale the dry, salt-enriched air deep down into the lungs, where the healing benefits do their greatest healing. The salt widens the airways and loosens the mucus, which begins to clear quickly, and inflammation is reduced, which makes more room in the airways for you to breathe. Symptoms subside, sometimes for up to 12 months. The non-inhaled particles landing on the skin help to balance pH and induce the reparative and regenerative processes in the skin, increasing rigidity and stimulating cell growth and microcirculation.
Specific to our salt rooms, we use Himalayan salt lamps and cover the floor in Himalayan salt to generate negative ions, which help to counterbalance the influx of positive ions from the many electronic devices we use every day. This improves your overall mental and emotional health, helping you to relax and de-stress.
3. What is the difference between a salt room and salt bed?
The benefits are the same in each environment, with the duration being different. Salt room sessions last 25 minutes. Those wishing to experience salt therapy primarily for the skin would benefit more in a salt bed due to the level of privacy, which allows one to disrobe. The salt room will only affect the skin areas that are exposed by normal clothing, but both environments will benefit the respiratory system equally.
4. What should I expect to experience in a Breathe Salt Room?
Our beautiful and spacious salt room allows for dry salt therapy to be experienced alone or in a group setting. The large room simulates the environment of a therapeutic salt cave, with Himalayan salt covering the walls and floor to calm the mind and body by releasing negative ions.
- Negative ions counterbalance the many positive ions we pick up from electronic devices like cell phones, tablets, etc. Neutralizing the atmosphere in this way stabilizes mood, decreases stress and prepares the body for ultimate healing.
A salt room session last 25 minutes and requires no more than lying back in a comfortable recliner and breathing deeply. Micro particles of salt are dispersed into the room by the halogenerator while you relax, read, listen to music, sleep or meditate.
5. What should I expect to experience in a Breathe Salt Bed?
A therapy session here lasts 25 minutes and is just as effective as a 25-minute salt room session. An appointment must be made beforehand. A Salt Bed looks similar to a tanning bed except the walls are made mostly of Plexiglas. Salt Beds offer a private setting where you can choose to disrobe to expose trouble skin. Salt Bed’s offer the addition of chromo-therapy as well as a heated double bottom for Himalayan salt crystals that provide additional negative ions and particles to enhance the salt therapy experience and benefits. We provide soft, relaxing music for you to listen to during the session however, you do have the option to plug in your own device during the session. When the session begins, we strongly recommend closing your eyes and taking slow deep breaths.
* If you suffer from claustrophobia, you may experience discomfort but the ability to see your surroundings, helps keep this to a minimum.
6. What clothing should be worn in the salt room and salt bed?
Comfortable clothing is recommended for the salt room. You may change into clothing that exposes areas of skin you would like the salt to reach (shorts, sleeveless shirts, skirts, etc). The salt bed is ideal for skin exposure and is private. We recommend wearing a bathing suit to expose the skin you want treated.
7. What are the side effects?
Since dry salt therapy is 100% natural and drug free, there are no negative side effects. After sessions, you may experience a slight cough, minor tightness in the chest or runny nose, but this is simply the salt doing its work to remove mucus and toxins from the lungs and airways.
8. How often should you come?
- Depending on age and stage of your condition, 20-30 sessions are recommended for long term results.
- The sessions should be frequent; about two or three a week is suggested.
- For irreversible conditions, two to three-month follow-up sessions are recommended to maintain the clear lungs.
In most patients, after a course of Dry Salt Therapy, airways become normal and symptoms disappear. The treatment’s efficacy is estimated at 75-98%. Most clients do 1-2 Salt Therapy courses a year. In between they might come back for some top-up sessions, if they start to feel poorly, e.g. they are coming down with a cold.
9. Who can benefit from Salt Therapy?
Dry Salt therapy is like a toothbrush for your lungs and skin, EVERYONE can (and will) benefit. It is a (total) detox for the following conditions:
Unless you’ve been living in a cave (not made of salt) for three years, you’ve no doubt noticed that Himalayan sea salt — those peachy-pink, jagged slabs — are everywhere. Whether it’s in a local metaphysical center, a farmer’s market or a big box store, Himalayan sea salt is sold in every form imaginable, from lamps to tea light holders to gigantic slabs. They’re beautiful, and mostly used for decoration. But increasingly, people (including medical practitioners) have been recognizing Himalayan sea salt as a mechanism for purifying and healing the body.
Halotherapy — from the Greek “halos,” which means “salt” — uses dry aerosol micro-particles of salt or minerals inside of a large, arid space to simulate the microclimate of salt mines, says Dr. Niket Sonpal, assistant professor at Touro College of Medicine. Salt exposure as a therapeutic treatment developed after 1843, when Polish physician Feliks Boczowski noticed that his patients, who worked in salt mines, had no respiratory or lung problems compared to other miners. When other physicians started to notice the same, salt caves began popping up around Europe up as a therapy for lung ailments like pneumonia or bronchitis. As halotherapy gains popularity (an estimated 300 salt caves exist in the United States alone) some claim the treatment can improve acne, seasonal allergies, arthritis and even depression, although there has been no peer-reviewed research to support most of these claims.
Can Halotherapy heal respiratory ailments?
“Halotherapy may be a relaxing spa treatment, but there’s little evidence about how well it works,” Sonpal says. “Most doctors are still skeptical, including myself. The effect that on anxiety and depression is considered to be a placebo effect.”
But that’s not to say there’s no promising research on it’s effectiveness. One 2007 study published in the journal Pneumologia showed that dry salt inhalers, used up to 30 minutes each day, five days per week for three months, showed significantly improved symptoms in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Of course, using an inhaler daily for months is different than sitting for an hour in a “salt cave” — but it does raise the question, does salt have the power to heal? And if it does, can we reap the benefits by buying into this wellness tend?
The scientific community isn’t quite sure why salt therapy purportedly helps improve lung conditions, says Dr. Payel Gupta, a spokesperson for the American Lung Association. “There are a lot of theories on why this therapy might be helpful, which could be that the salt particles are killing off microorganisms in the lungs, or that the salt is reducing inflammation and decreasing mucus,” she says. “We do know that salt has anti-inflammatory properties and we have seen this in patients who do nasal salt water rinses with a clean salt solution; there have been anti-inflammatory benefits.”
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One popular theory as to why halotherapy might work, according to the American Lung Association, is that salt particles, when inhaled, draw water into the airway and lungs and thin out mucus, making coughs more productive and less stressful for patients with diseases that cause thick sputum, like COPD or cystic fibrosis. How much therapy is required in order to see an effect, however, remains unclear.
I’m a skeptic when it comes to salt therapy – particularly salt caves — since there haven’t been studies to determine how effective they are (or whether they’re effective at all), or how much exposure someone needs to start seeing any benefit. But I’m also someone with chronic allergies and sinusitis, so I decided to try a few sessions at my local salt cave to see if it had any benefit at all. Even a little bit of relief is preferable to sniffing, sneezing and blowing my nose the entire summer, I figured.
On my first trip to the local salt cave, I’m greeted at the door by the receptionist who asks me to take off my shoes and silence my phone before entering the cave. Inside, the floor of the cave is lined with tiny chunks of pink Himalayan sea salt that crunches underfoot, while the walls are lined with large slabs of the same. Dimly lit by a handful of Himalayan salt lamps, I head past the zero-gravity chairs flanked in the middle of the room and grab a bed near the wall in the back. In this cave, every seat and bed is outfitted with plush pillows and blankets, and guests are given a set of noise-cancelling headphones and a heated massage stone (also made of Himalayan sea salt). I take both.
The verdict: salt caves are great for mental health
It’s immediately clear to me why salt caves have been said to alleviate anxiety and depression: Spending an hour in a warm, dimly lit room with the soft sounds of ocean waves piped in through the walls feels amazing. Nothing is required of guests during a salt cave session except to relax and breathe deeply – and essentially, you’re taking an hour-long nap. When I left the salt cave (having fallen asleep midway through the hour-long session), I felt much more relaxed and peaceful than I had been when I entered – but likely because of my nap, not the salt. My sinuses, on the other hand, weren’t feeling much better.
About a day after the session, I noticed that even though my sinuses were still plugged up, I was coughing more and my coughs were actually more phlegmy and productive — but it’s still unclear whether it was the salt that did the trick. Participants are asked to drink lots of water before, during and after the session, as they claim the salt has a slightly dehydrating effect, so there’s no way to tell whether salt exposure truly helped loosen up my chest, or whether it had something to do with all the water that I guzzled.
… but I’m still on the fence about it helping my allergies
In order to further test the salt cave’s effectiveness on clearing up mucus, I went back a few days later for another hour-long session — my last, since they’re pretty prohibitively expensive, somewhere between $20 and $40 for a single session, depending on where you’re located. Whether it was a placebo effect or the sea salt actually did something, I noticed a few days later that I wasn’t as stuffy as I had been before. I could smell and taste food again, and the throbbing ache in my sinus cavity had dulled. The trade-off, however, was an empty wallet (my local salt cave costs $30 for a 60-minute session) and watery, slightly stinging eyes, probably from the salt exposure.
In the end, I decided to make “salt therapy” a very occasional practice, like a manicure or some other fun splurge. Aside from the temporarily stinging eyes, I did find that salt therapy provides a noticeable health benefit — not because sea salt has healing properties necessarily, but because an hour-long technology detox in a dark room under a warm blanket is maybe my favorite method of self-care yet. Research has shown that a consistent self-care practice leads to better health outcomes both physically and mentally, but as far as I’m concerned, more research is needed to say the same for Himalayan salt. Next time I need some quiet time, the local salt cave will definitely be my first stop. For allergies, however? I’ll probably just stick to Zyrtec.
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- I hired a ‘trainer’ to get my finances in shape — and this is what I learned
- I was a social media addict — and this app helped me quit
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Weird or Wellness is an OprahMag.com series where staffers answer the question: Do we really need the “woo-woo” fads we keep seeing on social media in our self-care routines? We put buzzy treatments from halotherapy to facial yoga to the test so you don’t have to—all in the name of living your best life.
I love salt. I’ve been known to salt soy sauce…and apples (it’s a thing). I love salt so much it got a shout out in my wedding vows. So I thought the next logical way to express my adoration would be to spend an hour sitting in a room made entirely of this magical mineral.
Salt caves, or designated areas of spas designed to look like you’re in a mystical mine, have been on the rise since 2013 when intrepid business folks realized there was a market here for the popular European trend (and that they weren’t terribly expensive to implement).
The salt cave at Modrn Sanctuary in New York City. BTS
The idea is that you sit in an enclosure while a machine called a halogenerator mists pure-grade sodium chloride particles into the room. According to Leo Tonkin, the founder and director of the Salt Therapy Association, breathing in these anti-bacterial “microns” can help keep a virus from spreading, treat allergies, asthma, cystic fibrosis, sinusitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and even jet lag.
I find nothing less relaxing than the prospect of having to relax.
How so? Taz Bhatia, MD, integrative health expert and author of Super Woman Rx, explains that the salt particles loosen mucus and decrease inflammation. Yum. She also adds that dry salt therapy can “improve your mood and energy,” too.
In order to test these claims on my own slight case of the sniffles, I spent 45 minutes inside one of these salt chambers. But all I walked away with was a few Boomerangs and some major anxiety.
To be fair, the salt room I had the honor of palpitating in at Modrn Sanctuary in New York was a literal dream. Before setting out, I was anxious that I’d be chilling in a dank cave—the kind your family drags you to on spring break to stare at stalactites when you really just want to be on a beach like the popular kids. But, I figured that regardless of the surroundings, I’d go in with an open mind in an attempt to clear my head and my sinuses.
Instead of a moldy cavern, I entered a pink oasis with floor-to-ceiling backlit Himalayan salt walls, soft floors to bury my toes in, and plush chairs so comfortable I would have stolen one if I didn’t live in a studio apartment.
Oh, and it smells how I imagine Natasha Richardson in the Parent Trap would—like a clean hotel infused with white jasmine that you can’t afford to stay in. I find nothing less relaxing than the prospect of having to relax, however, so alone in that exquisite place with surfaces so savory I almost licked them, all I could think about was work. And cheese fries.
After, say, 16 minutes, when I finally put my phone down, I could feel the halogenerator cooking. The warm salt particles started touching my lips and with every (shallow) breath, it was as if I was inhaling the essence of organic popcorn. Similar to how post-nasal drip lingers in the back of your throat, the microns migrated through me and I could feel them “working” as I swallowed. Or, at least I was willing myself to believe that because I had nothing else going on.
After Alexandra Janelli, the founder of Modrn Sanctuary, instructed me to wiggle my toes into the chalky floor or to roll around in what seemed like the (sanitary) basement of a fish tank, I decided to lean into the experience. But a hot-second into rubbing the chalky salt residue into my skin (purportedly to help with psoriasis and eczema, which I don’t have), I got obsessed with thinking how much better this experience would be if someone handed me a martini.
Clearly, the meditative aspect wasn’t for me, but the fanciful walls serve more as a pretty placebo, Tonkin says. He assured me that the physical healing powers come from the halogenerator, not the décor, which is there for mentally therapeutic reasons.
Though halotherapy is widely respected in Europe as more than just something for millennials to toss money at (it me), few U.S. studies point at demonstrated clinical significance. “There have been some abstracts but not many doctors have done the research here, unlike in Poland, parts of Russia, Finland, Estonia, and Canada, where insurance even covers part of the treatment,” Tonkin explains.
However, he predicts that as more and more of us start seeking alternative medicine, we’ll likely see salt therapy rise in popularity in the way that acupuncture is now considered normcore.
Why the pendulum shift? “Wellness is now a powerful movement fueled by frustrations with the current medical model, the desire to have non-prescription options for care, and the urge to have quality, not just quantity of life,” Tonkin says. “Many millennials have watched their parents age poorly while our 55-plus generation simply wants to live the rest of their years empowered and vital.”
And me? I just wanted to see if the salt could dry up my sniffles. (It did not.)
Though I was still snotty a day later, it was nice to inhale purified air for a while. I felt like I was doing something productive while literally doing nothing, which is kind of, like, #LifeGoals. If you need a small win (or have respiratory issues), I would absolutely suggest finding yourself a nearby salt cave to putter around in. You’ve got nothing to lose—besides $30 bucks.
How to Create an At-Home Salt Room for Halotherapy (Guide)
Halotherapy, also known as dry salt therapy, has been a popular complementary treatment in Eastern Europe for many generations but is just now becoming popular in North America. Salt rooms are popping up in spas, resorts and wellness centers across the country, and folks are touting a variety of benefits that primarily center on respiratory health and treating skin conditions.
While you may not have heard of salt rooms before, you are likely familiar with Himalayan salt lamps, which have been popular here for decades. These lamps give off a warm glow and are said to release negative ions into the atmosphere. This, in turn, has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress and enhance relaxation.
Salt room therapy often includes Himalayan salt bricks or lamps for this effect while also taking things a step farther to include breathing in air with a salt concentration that is meant to produce an effect that is roughly the equivalent to spending three days at the beach in just 15 minutes in a salt room.
What is Halotherapy?
Halotherapy, also known as dry salt therapy, got its modern start in the early 1800s when an Eastern European doctor discovered that people working in salt mines rarely had respiratory issues (unlike other miners) and their skin often looked younger. After this discovery, Dr. Feliks Boczkowski set up the first modern salt health spa in a salt mine in Poland in 1839.
More than 100 years later, salt mines in Europe were used as bomb shelters during World War II. During this time, a German doctor, Dr. K.H. Spannagel, found that folks staying in the caves appeared to be experiencing improvement in respiratory ailments. This observation inspired him to further study the phenomenon by setting up inpatient centers in salt mines.
There is much more to the history of halotherapy, but this gives you a general idea of how the health benefits of breathing in salt air were first discovered and studied in modern times. If you are a history lover, you may find it interesting to do a little research to learn more about this alternative therapy that has been in use since at least the 12th century.
Halotherapy can include both dry and wet salt therapies. Wet salt therapies include some commonly practiced at-home remedies, such as neti pots and inhalable saline solutions. Dry salt therapy, which is the type of halotherapy used in salt rooms, consists of breathing in air with tiny salt particles ground up and dispersed by a halogenerator.
According to the Salt Therapy Association, the following conditions can be treated with halotherapy:
- Common cold
- Cystic fibrosis
- Ear infections
- Smokers cough
- Swelling & inflammation
- Dry & flaky skin
- Skin aging
To learn more about the potential health benefits of halotherapy, you can find a list of published research articles here.
Remember, you should always check with your healthcare provider before embarking on any new therapies or treatments.
What is a Salt Room?
You know how you feel like you can breathe better and deeper after hanging out at the beach for a few days? Well, salt rooms were created to give you this same effect in a much shorter time. There are only so many salt mines in the world, and it is not practical for most folks to head to these mines to breathe in the salty air on a regular basis. While hanging out at the beach for days at a time also seems to help, this is not exactly practical for more folks either. So, once dry salt therapy started to become a thing, people had to figure out how to create a similar environment that would be more accessible to patients and clients.
This is how salt rooms, salt caves and salt grottos began to spring up across Europe, and then moving to the United Kingdom, Australia and North America.
Essentially, a salt room – or salt cave – is an enclosed space with carefully controlled salt concentration and ventilation. While in this space, participants breathe in tiny salt particles that are put into the air by a machine called a halogenerator. These particles are said to be small enough to be breathed into the lungs, which is credited for the potential respiratory health benefits.
Salt rooms often include Himalayan salt bricks or lamps that are believed to release mood-enhancing, stress-reducing negative ions into the area. This, of course, can create a relaxing space, but it is the addition of the halogenerator that makes the difference between having a peaceful space for meditation or yoga and having an actual salt therapy room.
Breathing in the dry salt aerosol is key here, so if you are considering building your own salt therapy room at home that rivals those found in spas and wellness centers, you will need to have a halogenerator.
Why Should I Build an At-Home Salt Room?
Salt room sessions generally last 45 minutes and cost between $25 and $45 in most areas. Aside from the expense, there is also the time consideration, since there are still relatively few salt spas across the country, which means you may have to drive 30 minutes, one hour or even longer just to reach your nearest commercial salt room.
Additionally, you will likely be sharing the space with other patients or clients, some of whom may be there to use salt therapy to help them get over the common cold or another contagious illness. Even if their condition is not contagious, you may find it less peaceful or even a little gross for people to be coughing or spitting up phlegm while you are trying to get your Zen on.
If you have the time, your budget allows it and you do not mind sharing the space with other people, you probably do not need a salt room in your house or outdoor living area. You also do not need to go to the expense of installing a salt cave if you are only going to use it every once in a while. If you do not plan on using it regularly, you are better off occasionally making an appointment at a spa, resort or wellness center to partake of their facilities.
However, if you prefer the convenience and privacy of getting your complementary treatments right at home, then an at-home salt room might be right for you. It also might be a good choice if you or a family member have a condition that salt therapy seems to help.
If there is a particular health condition you are hoping to treat, you should definitely try out salt therapy at a commercial establishment first to determine its effectiveness for your particular ailment prior to investing in at-home options.
At-Home Salt Therapy Options
Once you have decided that you want a halotherapy space at your house, there are a few options to consider. One option is a salt therapy bed that comes pre-fabricated, simply plugs into the wall and takes up about as much room as a tanning bed. These are sometimes referred to as salt therapy boxes, since they are basically a clear box that you lie in as the salt air circulates around you. This option can easily fit into a guest bedroom or on your covered patio.
Another option is a salt booth. These usually come in one- or two-person options that are about the size of a stand-alone sauna built for the same capacity. These also are ready to go with a bit of assembly and access to a regular electrical outlet – plus, you will not have to worry about any special ventilation or building permit. The compact size of this option makes it a good choice for outdoor living areas or for placement inside your home.
Your next option is to purchase a pre-fabricated, portable salt room. This option is faster and more convenient than having a room built, but it does not allow for much customization, and you will have to find a unit that will fit your space. This option does require assembly, and you will likely want the pros to install it for you to make sure everything is functioning properly.
Then, of course, there is the option of designing and building your own salt room. Whether you enlist the help of experts or take it on as a do-it-yourself project, this option allows you to customize your salt room and to make it perfectly fit that corner of your patio or unused closet space in your home. This also allows you to determine your budget and get started while adding additional features later, if needed.
If you choose to purchase a pre-fab unit, you will likely need to purchase it new. Halotherapy is still a relatively new practice in North America, which means there is not a huge resale market for at-home units. The folks who have invested in salt beds, booths or portable rooms have generally bought them for health reasons and will likely hang on to them, since they are a considerable investment. So, there are just not a lot of used, at-home salt room options for sale. This means that, unless you are lucky enough to find a used one, you are probably going to need to purchase a new, pre-fabricated unit or build your own.
Personal Salt Room Basics
There are plenty of reasons to build your own salt room in your home or backyard, but before you get too far into the project, it is necessary to cover a few basics. So, before we talk about wall coverings and seating options, here are 10 things to know:
1. Your salt room will require electricity to run the halogenerator and, possibly, for salt lamps, lighting, an audio system, in-floor heating, dehumidifier, ventilation system or a climate-control system.
2. Depending on what you are planning on installing, you may need to check with your local governing body to see if there are building codes you will need to adhere to during construction or permits you need to obtain.
3. Maintaining proper ventilation and humidity is important for your health and safety and to retain the integrity of your salt room. It is best to bring in a professional to ensure proper installation and maintenance of these key factors. In some cases, there may be building codes regarding heating, ventilation or air conditioning systems.
4. Liquids and salt rooms do not mix well. Commercial salt caves generally do not allow clients to bring water or other beverages into the space. This is primarily because liquids can damage the walls, floor, salt lamps or salt features in the room. Of course, you can bring water into your own salt cave at home, but be aware of this issue and, perhaps, stick to beverages that can be transported in closed containers, such as bottled water. If you choose to not bring water into your session, it is recommended that you hydrate before and after each session.
As a side note, if you get the idea to build the walls of your salt room entirely out of Himalayan salt bricks, make sure it is located in an area that is protected from rain, humidity and your irrigation system. While this might be beautiful to look at on your patio, the weather is going to shorten the life of your at-home salt spa by damaging the walls. It is best to keep the salt on the inside and not exposed to the elements.
5. It is not recommended to drink alcohol before or during a salt therapy session. Alcohol dehydrates you, and so does salt, so this is not a good combination.
6. Dry salt therapy is believed to be good for your skin and may even help to heal some skin conditions. Therefore, most partakers wear clothing that exposes the areas they would like to treat or that exposes as much skin as possible to reap the potential benefits. In commercial settings, this often includes a bathing suit, shorts and a tank top, or yoga pants and a t-shirt. Keep in mind that your clothing will be covered in a light dusting of salt after your session, so just be sure to wear clothing that is easy to wash.
7. You will not always see aerosol sensors in salt rooms, but it is a good idea – especially if you are managing your room on your own without the help of a professional. It is important to maintain consistent, proper dry salt concentration in the air in your halotherapy room, and a dry salt aerosol sensor can help you do that.
8. According to the Salt Therapy Association, there are some people who should not partake in halotherapy, including “people with contagious diseases, fever, open wounds, cancer, severe hypertension, mental disorders and active tuberculosis.” (Salt Therapy Association website)
The group also notes that pregnant women should consult with their healthcare provider before including salt therapy in their wellness regimen.
9. While this alternative treatment is considered safe for children and animals, you should never leave your children or pets in your salt room without proper supervision. Breathing in salt air may be good for our health and wellness, but ingesting too much of it is still considered a bad thing – and you and I both know that once your children figure out the room is made from delicious salt, they are going to start licking the walls or eating handfuls off of the floor. Animals will also lick the salt and may use your loose salt floor as a restroom.
10. If you are considering a personal salt therapy room to treat a particular condition, do your research beforehand to better understand the salt concentration and session duration recommended by professionals for your condition.
At-Home Salt Room Wall Options
If you have the budget to cover one or more walls in Himalayan salt bricks or blocks, this is a truly stunning salt room wall option that will significantly enhance the visual appeal of the space. These walls can be backlit to provide a warm glow for added ambiance. However, salt bricks are not cheap, so this might not be in your budget.
Another option is to stick with conventional drywall and create a smaller section or art piece out of salt bricks or smaller salt rocks. An option commonly seen in commercial settings is to start with drywall and spray on a salt texture that helps create more of the feel and look of being in a salt cave. This is generally much more affordable than salt bricks, plus this is a much lighter material, which makes it better suited for areas where weight may be an issue.
At-Home Salt Room Flooring Options
Your salt room can have almost any type of flooring, including laminate, wood, tile, conventional bricks, salt bricks or paving stones. The most common choice seen in commercial salt rooms is a thick layer of loose salt that resembles beach sand. This is largely aesthetic, since your halogenerator dispersing tiny salt particles into the air is what is really considered beneficial. However, it does create a great aesthetic and goes with the zero-gravity beach chairs typically found in this setting. A loose salt floor is also a fun option if you are installing your at-home salt room to try this complementary therapy for children with asthma, allergies, sinus issues or skin conditions.
If you opt for Himalayan salt bricks or blocks for the floor, consider installing an under-floor heating system to gently warm the floor, which is believed to increase the release of negative ions into the atmosphere and will make your salt therapy room even cozier and more inviting.
At-Home Salt Room Lighting
If your room or booth has clear siding, you may not need interior lighting at all. If this is the case, you can simply use the lighting available in the larger room in which your salt room is located or the natural light flowing in through windows or directly through into the booth or room, if it is located outside.
If you create a space without much natural light or that you intend to use at night, you will need to include lighting. Salt room lighting should never be harsh or glaring, which will take away from the ambiance. Choose lighting that gives off a gentle glow, such as one or more Himalayan salt lamps. If you opt for salt bricks or blocks for your walls, you can backlight one or more walls to fill the room with a warm, welcoming glow.
If you are going for more a beachy atmosphere, consider festive string lights or LED tube lighting.
DIY Salt Room Seating
The seating you choose for your DIY salt room depends on the size of the room and how you intend to use it. Most commercial rooms have either recliners or zero-gravity chairs like those that are most commonly seen in outdoor living areas. Either of these options allows you to relax comfortably during your session. However, if your room is particularly small or you opt for a salt booth, you will not have room for this type of chair. In this case, you may only have room for a small bench, stool or meditation cushion.
You may choose to use floor cushions or meditation cushions in larger salt rooms as well, particularly if you plan on using your room as a hangout space or for meditation. Other options include Adirondack chairs, small chairs for children, or just about any chair that is comfortable and easy to clean – since tiny salt particles will coat it every time you do a dry salt therapy session.
At-Home Salt Room Sound
You can play any type of music or audio that you like inside your private salt room, since this is your space for healing and relaxing. This could mean that you use the time in your salt cave to catch up on audio books, listen to talk radio or play your favorite band. If you want to maintain a relaxing atmosphere, you might want to consider classical music, instrumental music created for meditation, or tracks that include gongs and bells specifically created for meditation or sleep improvement.
The important thing to note is that tiny particles of salt being blown around the room are not a good match for electronics, so you will need to set up your audio system outside of the room and bring it through the wall or via bluetooth to speakers in the room. Alternatively, you can install a clear acrylic, plastic or glass box in which you can deposit your phone, tablet or music player to protect it from the salt, but it is best to keep electronics safely outside of the room.
Some folks who want to check emails or have their phone with them while enjoying their salt room place their tablet or phone in a waterproof case generally intended for use at the beach or by the pool. This may help keep salt from getting into your electronics. Do keep in mind, however, that part of the benefit of salt therapy is believed to come from relaxing in a space with negative ions and not using electronics that give off positive ions.
DIY Salt Room Décor and Accessories
How you decorate and accessorize your halotherapy room will largely depend on how you intend to use it. Of course, the main purpose of this type of space is to breathe in the dry salt circulated in the room, but you do have options for what you want to do in the room while you are breathing in the salt air. For most people, this includes relaxing activities, such as meditation, reading or yoga. When salt rooms are designed for children, they generally are set up for playing or creative activities.
If you plan on using your room for meditation, you may want to include meditation cushions, a Tibetan singing bowl, an altar or other items that enhance your meditative experience. For yoga, you will want a yoga mat, blocks and straps. For reading, you may want a comfortable reading chair, reading light and blanket.
If you plan on having your children use the space, you may want to include toys, an arts and crafts table with supplies, or a chalkboard. Just remember that everything will be covered with salt, so you likely do not want to bring in stuffed animals or electronic toys. Another great addition when kids are involved is a salt box (think: sandbox but with dead sea salt) in which they can dig and play.
Commercial salt rooms found in spas and wellness centers often include salt lamps, salt rocks, healing stones, blankets, neck rolls or throw pillows. For the most part, you just want to keep it simple in order to maintain a relaxing, uncluttered space and to incorporate accessories that will enhance your comfort or your overall experience.
If you are considering installing a halotherapy room in your home or outdoor living area, it is best to purchase a pre-made kit or to enlist the help of a professional to get you started. Setting up your halogenerator and ensuring proper ventilation are the two most important factors for which you may need professional assistance. Once you have the basics set up and understand how to operate and maintain the room, you can pick your throw pillows or yoga mats on your own to personalize the space.
Is the Salt Room Therapy Trend Really Worth the Hype?
Photo: beronb/Getty Images
You might think you have it all down pat when it comes to relieving everyday body issues. Headache? Pop an over-the-counter pain pill. Stuffy nose? Slurp some hot soup. But what if there were one thing that could solve all those problems at once?
Halotherapy, also called salt therapy, claims to do all that and more. The treatment essentially involves sitting in a room (often referred to as a salt cave, house, or bath) filled with rock salt and inhaling salty air that’s being pumped in by a halogenerator.
While the natural-healing practice has a history rooted in Europe, with some of the earliest known salt caves in Poland, these salt-filled spaces are now popping up in spas and yoga studios. They tout benefits like curing the common cold, decreasing allergy symptoms, detoxifying the lymphatic systems, improving sleep, and alleviating some skin conditions.
Unlike table salt, which is stripped of most of its natural minerals and fortified with iodine, the Himalayan rock salt you’d find in these caves is rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, iodine, bromine, and copper. So, in theory, you absorb these minerals when you breathe the salty air.
Additionally, the negative ions in salt have been said to improve mental health conditions like depression, stress, and anxiety, according to a report published in BMC Psychiatry. These negative ions may also combat the positive ions emitted by computers, TVs, and cell phones, Ellen Patrick, a salt cave yoga instructor previously told us.
Proven science behind salt rooms is a bit lacking. But in an effort to see what the fuss was all about-and hopefully, leave feeling refreshed, breathing deeper, with my skin glowing and energy recharged-I decided to check out a salt cave for myself. So I went to Salt Cave Santa Barbara in California, which boasts 45 tons of pure Himalayan salt covering the walls, ceilings, and floors.
The first thing I noticed when I walked in was that salt caves are *really* pretty. So pretty you might be tempted to disrupt everyone relaxing in there with a flash-on photo. I resisted.
The ground was made up of loose Himalayan salt rocks, the surrounding walls were stacked with Himalayan salt bricks, and salt lamps of varying sizes were tucked into corners and crevices to create an orange glow as the heat from their bulbs encouraged salt microparticles to release into the air. Zero-gravity chairs were set up in a large semicircle allowing you to truly sit back and relax. Blankets were available, but on the 90-degree day that I was there, being in the cool cave felt healing in itself.
The typical salt cave experience is customizable in the sense that when you enter, you are free to roam the space freely, sitting, standing, meditating as you wish. I decided to bury my feet in the salt like sand at the beach and simply enjoy the beauty of the salt bricks. I was definitely enjoying the blissful silence-it was a contemplative experience-but I was also invited to take my salt cave exploration up a notch.
I was offered a private massage in a separate space, which incorporated all of the amenities as the main room-a salt floor, the orange glow from the lamps, and the pretty salt bricks-and I gladly hopped up on the table for a 60-minute deep tissue massage. Altogether, I would say I was in the cave, inhaling the negative ions of Himalayan salt, for almost two hours.
When I left, I felt similar to how I do after a yoga class-a sort of dazed peacefulness. I also noticed that, with it being the day after Thanksgiving and me feeling bloated and drowsy when I first arrived, I now felt lighter on my feet and more awake. The next day, I zipped up the mountain for my morning hike quicker than usual. My breathing felt more natural, and my skin felt squeaky clean and ready to sweat.
Now was this extra pep in my step a coincidence? I mean, self-care after the holidays is sure to make you feel rejuvenated, so it could be that I just needed a nice massage and a zippy hike in the fresh air. But I’m intrigued enough to try it again, because adding salt to the typical pampering tricks, like guided meditation or hot stone massage, seemed to give me the extra boost of relaxation and revitalization I needed.
- By By Alexa Erickson
You may already be using Pink Himalayan salt on your food, but have you ever tried salt therapy? There are actually several ways you can reap the benefits of salt therapy at home or at a salt therapy spa.
Is it bad to inhale salt? One of the best health benefits of salt therapy is said to be its ability to help you breathe better. According to the Lung Institute, salt’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties combined with its ability to help remove airborne pathogens while decreasing allergic reactions makes it a great therapeutic choice for people with asthma, bronchitis and even COPD. (1)
Before you visit your nearest salt therapy spa, let’s talk about all of the potential benefits of this ancient practice and more forms of incredible salt therapy.
What Is Salt Therapy?
Salt therapy comes in several forms that can be divided into two main categories: wet salt therapy or dry salt therapy.
Wet salt therapy includes the use of neti pots, salt centric gargling mixtures, salt scrubs, soaking in salt water baths and internal salt water flushes.
What is dry salt therapy? It’s a form of salt therapy in an environment that has no moisture or humidity. Dry salt therapy takes place in a space that is often referred to as a “salt cave,” but a salt spa might also call it their “salt therapy room.”
Dry salt therapy is also called halotherapy or speleotherapy. According to the Salt Therapy Association, speleotherapy takes place below the Earth’s surface in naturally occurring salt caves and mines. Halotherapy, on the other hand, is a form of dry salt therapy that uses man-made salt caves created through the use of a halogenerator that disperses a dry salt aerosol into the salt “cave” or room. So with both forms of salt cave therapy, you are breathing in salty air but speleotherapy is naturally occurring salt while halotherapy uses natural salt that is pumped into a man-made environment. (2)
Other forms of dry salt therapy include salt inhalers and salt lamps. These forms of salt therapy at home are easy to do and not too pricey.
What is a salt inhaler? How do you use a salt inhaler? A salt inhaler, also called a salt pipe, is a small, ceramic device that you fill with with pink Himalayan salt crystals. To use the inhaler, you put your mouth on the mouthpiece and deeply inhale through your month. A salt inhaler is used as an alternative therapy for respiratory concerns.
So how does a salt lamp work? A real Himalayan salt lamp is a solid block of Himalayan salt that has been hand-carved and in the hollowed-out center is a light bulb that gives off both light and heat. Since salt is hygroscopic (attracts water molecules), it can attract water molecules along with any indoor air pollutants like mold, bacteria and allergens. When the water vapor meets the salt lamp surface, the pollutants are believed to remain trapped within the salt.
Just beware of the salt lamp hoax and learn how to spot real (Himalayan salt lamp) vs fake salt lamps.
How It Works
The main idea behind all salt therapy is that by coming in contact with salt — through some form of wet or dry salt therapy — you can enhance your health and well-being. Salt water soaks and salt room therapy are also known for being highly relaxing and stress-reducing.
So why can salt therapy have positive effects on the body? According to the Lung Institute, salt has some incredible properties including: (3)
- Loosens excessive mucus and speeds up mucociliary transport
- Removes pathogens (ie., airborne pollen)
- Reduces IgE level (immune system oversensitivity)
What are the benefits of salt therapy?
1. Respiratory Ailments
The theory behind dry salt therapy and its ability to improve respiratory problems is that the salt helps to decrease inflammation and open up airway passages while helping to get rid of allergens and toxins from the respiratory system.
According to the Salt Therapy Association, many people who make halotherapy a part of their “wellness routine” may find relief from several respiratory health conditions including:
- Common cold
- Cystic fibrosis
- Ear infections
- Smokers cough
The Salt Therapy Association also points out that “for respiratory conditions low concentration and gradual administration of dry salt and consistency of the sessions are the key elements for successful results.” (4)
Is there any science to back this all up? A double-blind, controlled, pilot study published in 2017 looked at the effects of halotherapy on young children (ages 5–13 years) with a clinical diagnosis of mild asthma who were not receiving any anti-inflammatory therapy.
Twenty nine children had 14 sessions of halotherapy in salt room with a halogenerator over the course of seven weeks while the other 26 were put in a salt room without a salt halogenerator. The group that received halotherapy exhibited a “statistically significant improvement” in bronchial hyper-responsiveness (BHR) and overall, the researchers conclude that a salt room with halogenerator may have some beneficial effects in mild asthmatic children. (5)
Multiple studies also demonstrate the positive effects of halotherapy on patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as chronic bronchitis and asthma. Improvements in lung function and decreases in blood pressure have specifically been observed. (6, 7, 8)
2. Skin Conditions
Making dry salt therapy a regular practice is said to possibly help people with various skin conditions including: (10)
- Dry, flaky skin
- Swollen/innflammaed skin
Wet salt therapy has also been shown in scientific research to improve skin hydration, skin roughness and skin redness making it a great option for people with eczema and other dry skin conditions. A study published in the International Journal of Dermatology had volunteers with atopic dry skin submerge one of their forearms in a bath solution containing five percent Dead Sea salt for 15 minutes while their other arm was submerged in tap water as a control.
What were the results? The arms bathed in salt water experienced improvements in skin barrier function and stratum corneum hydration as well as decreases in skin roughness and inflammation. The researchers mainly attributed the skin benefits of the Dea Sea salt soak to its rich magnesium content. (11)
3. Immune System Booster
There’s good reason why salt is commonly used in food preservation — the antimicrobial properties of salt (NaCl) are extremely impressive. Research has shown that salt reduces bacterial contamination in food from the following bacteria that causes major sickness in humans: Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria monocytogenes. (12)
Studies also demonstrate halotherapy’s ability to boost the immune system. Research conducted to find out the benefits of halotherapy as part of a combined treatment approach for chronic bronchitis patients found that in addition to improved lung function, there were also normalized measurements of reduced immunity. (13)
4. Reduce Inflammation
Research conducted at The University of Manchester demonstrates another major benefit of salt — its ability to reduce inflammation, which is huge since we know that inflammation is at the root of most diseases. (14)
According to the research using animal subjects, a hypertonic solution (a solution with an elevated concentration of salt) “can ease inflammation purely through bathing in it.” The salty liquid was also shown to reduce inflammation when applied via bandages.
It seems as though the hypertonic solution produces an osmotic gradient through the skin. An osmotic gradient is a pressure caused by water molecules that forces water to move from areas of high water potential to areas of low water potential. The researchers point out that this explains why salty hot springs are known to improve pain associated with inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. (15)
Halotherapy comes from the Greek word for salt which is “halo.” Salt therapy is a newer practice in the U.S., but it’s been used in places like Europe for hundreds of years. It’s said that European monks started using salt therapy centuries ago when they noticed that respiratory ailments improved faster after spending time in natural salt caverns. In written records from the 12th century, there is also one of the first mentions of spa resorts featuring salt water mineral baths in Poland. (16)
In the the 1840s, a Polish physician named Dr. Felix Bochkowsky noticed that metal and coal miners had a tendency to experience severe respiratory problems, but salt miners tended to be healthier than most people. This lead Dr. Bochkowsky to publish a book about the health benefits of salt dust.
Fast forward to World War II when German salt mines were used as bomb shelters. When there were bombings, people would have to stay in the mines for long amounts of time breathing in all that salt dust. The good news? When people with breathing problems left the salt shelters, they supposedly could breathe much easier.
Salt caves are also called salt rooms or salt chambers. How does a salt room work? Dry salt room therapy includes spending time relaxing in a man-made environment breathing in salt-infused air. The dry salt therapy can either be in an active salt room or a passive salt room. The active room uses a halogenerator to put micro-particles of salt into the air of an enclosed space so that you can then breathe it in and also so that your skin can come in contact with the salt. This variety of dry salt therapy is called halotherapy.
Passive salt rooms (speleotherapy) are also man-made, but instead of using a halogenerator to put salt into the environment, they fill the space with large quantities of salt. The idea is to simulate natural salt caves like those found in Europe.
Man-made salt caves can use various types of sea salt. Many choose to use pink sea salt. Where does pink sea salt come from? True Pink Himalayan sea salt comes from salt mines 5,000 feet deep below the Himalayan Mountain Range. The salt can be pink, red or white, and all of the colors are indicative of its impressive natural mineral content.
Salt therapy side effects from halotherapy have been known to include a slight cough, minor tightness in the chest or runny nose, which salt therapy providers typically say is a result of the salt doing its work to remove mucus and toxins from the lungs and airways.
Halotherapy is not recommended for people with a fever, contagious disease, open wounds, cancer, severe hypertension, mental disorders or active tuberculosis.
If you’re pregnant or have any health concerns, talk to your doctor before trying halotherapy or any other form of salt therapy.
Are there any other salt therapy dangers? According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: “Inhaling concentrated salts (hypertonic saline) has been proven to irritate the airways, causing cough and mucus, which can make asthma worse for some people. Halotherapy, or sitting in a salt room, is not likely to make your asthma better. For most asthma patients, halotherapy is ‘likely safe.’ Since you don’t know how you will react, AAFA warns that it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid salt rooms.” (17)
- Salt therapy can be divided into two main categories: wet and dry.
- Wet salt therapy includes the use of neti pots, salt centric gargling mixtures, salt scrubs, soaking in salt water baths and internal salt water flushes. Dry salt therapy includes salt lamps, salt inhalers and salt caves (halotherapy and speleotherapy).
- Salt therapy benefits may include improvement in respiratory conditions and skin problems as well as increased immune system health and lowered inflammation.
- Many doctors remain skeptical about salt therapy benefits, but first hand accounts as well as scientific studies point towards the numerous benefits of salt therapy.
- If you’re interested in trying halotherapy or another form of salt therapy for a chronic health problem, talk to your doctor to see if this form of drug-free therapy is a good option for you.
Read Next: 5 Potential Benefits of Cryotherapy, Including Pain Relief
Promising or Placebo? Halo Salt Therapy: Resurgence of a Salt Cave Spa Treatment
A spa day. We all need one. It’s meant to relax and revitalize the body and mind, but what about the lungs? A new trend increasingly found at modern spas is halotherapy, or salt therapy—breathable salt particles intended to improve breathing. There has been news buzzing with the supposed benefits of salt therapy or halotherapy for lung conditions like COPD and asthma. But what exactly is salt therapy, and is it helpful or harmful?
Turns out, salt therapy isn’t new at all. Back in 1843, a Polish physician by the name of Feliks Boczkowski noticed that salt mine workers did not experience respiratory issues or lung disease vs other miners. Almost a hundred years later, a German named Karl Hermann Spannagel noticed that his patients’ health improved after hiding out in the salt caves while avoiding heavy bombing during WWII. The news of the benefits of salt therapy spread across Eastern Europe where you can find many locations offering these giant salt rooms today, from Poland to Germany to the UK. It’s even catching on in the States at Korean bathhouses where you can sit back, relax and breathe in the salty air while in a room made entirely out of giant slabs of Himalayan sea salt.
So how does it work? Well, the scientific community isn’t really sure. There are a lot of theories on the how, from the tiny salt particles being inhaled killing off microorganisms in the lungs to reducing inflammation and decreasing mucus, or a mixture of these hypothesis.
Dr. Norman Edelman, Senior Scientific Advisor to the American Lung Association, suggests that potentially, it could be more than just a placebo effect. Most people with obstructive lung disease such as asthma or COPD cough sputum (a thick mixture of saliva and mucus), and trying to bring it up can be distressing. (Think about the last time you had bronchitis, for instance.) Dr. Edelman suggests that it’s possible that salt therapy offers relief to these symptoms.
“When fine salt particles are inhaled, they will fall on the airway linings and draw water into the airway, thinning the mucus and making it easier to raise, thus making people feel better,” said Dr. Edelman. “Also, these environments are allergen-free and thus good for people with allergies affecting their lungs.”
At this point, there are no evidence-based findings to create guidelines for patients and clinicians about treatments such as salt therapy, which begs the question—should people be using a therapy without current medical guidance? There is also the question of how well maintained the rooms are since warm rooms could provide ideal conditions for the growth of bacteria. The bottom line: salt therapy should definitely be discussed with your doctor.
Related Topic: Health & Wellness
Do Salt Rooms Really Work
Salt rooms are allegedly useful in treating a range of respiratory and skin conditions. This can include acne, eczema, psoriasis, asthma, allergies, persistent coughs, sinus issues, and lung diseases like emphysema and pneumonia.
That said, many people—including medical professionals—are skeptical about whether salt rooms are truly beneficial for people’s health. Although there’s controversy surrounding the evidence that supports the validity of salt therapy, there are a few studies that have shown promising results.
One study looked at the effects of halotherapy on patients with various respiratory diseases. It found that most participants’ symptoms improved after 10 to 20 one-hour salt therapy treatments. Another study suggests halotherapy can help those with chronic bronchitis, and another suggests it can help asthmatics who struggle with their symptoms during the night. A 2017 study noted that halotherapy seemed to help asthmatic children between the ages of 5 and 13, although the researchers also noted that more long-term studies would be helpful. Most of the studies indicate that benefits are only seen after multiple salt therapy sessions.
According to the Salt Therapy Association (STA), salt rooms are safe for children, but those who are pregnant or nursing should consult their doctors before trying halotherapy.
SALT THERAPY SAFETY
What Conditions Should Not be Treated with Halotherapy?
Infections accompanied by fever, acute active tuberculosis, cardiac insufficiency, COPD – 3rd stage, bleeding or spitting blood, alcohol or drug intoxication, unstable or uncontrolled hypertension, and acute stages of respiratory disease.
Are There Any Side Effects to Salt Therapy?
As the contaminants and excess mucous and fluid begins to clear in the lungs, some clients may experience increased coughing for a short time. Skin exposure may sometimes leave a slight rash or light itch for 3-5 days. These minor irritations are the only known side effects of salt therapy.
Is There an Age Limit?
There is no age limit for treatment at either end of the spectrum. Young children will be treated with a lower concentration of salt in the air.
Is There Research to Support Salt Therapy?
Salt therapy has been researched and written about extensively. Click here to see links to a number of clinical studies from medical researchers.
How Safe is Salt Therapy?
Salt therapy is 100-percent natural, drug-free, and safe. It is often combined with other medical treatments and prescriptions (often reducing the amount of medication prescribed in treatment), but it also acts as a stand-alone therapy for a variety of conditions.
Is it Harmful to Breathe in Too Much Salt?
While eating or ingesting too much salt can be bad for your body, breathing it in does not affect your heart, stomach or kidneys, as exposure during salt therapy is limited to your respiratory system. Even then, the concentration of pharmaceutical grade salt that you breathe in during salt therapy is very low (between .5 and 10 milligrams per cubic meter — less than a tea spoon). Because of salt’s natural anti bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties, and its ability to clear passageways and break down mucous, it has only healing affects when taken into the body this way.
The only exception are these:
People who suffer from type IIB hypertension. Salt therapy is not recommended for those with this condition.
Kidney Disease – Since one’s kidneys may already be in a compromised state it is advisable to consult with a physician prior to scheduling an appointment. During your 45 minute session water is pulled from your system. It is recommended that one use the restroom prior to beginning their session and immediately following it. We also recommend increasing your water intake through out the day.
Chemotherapy- If someone is undergoing chemotherapy, salt treatment is not recommended. Chemotherapy treatments lower immunity to aid in the destruction of cancer cells, therefore it would be counter productive to this treatment to visit a salt room.
Hypothyroidism – the body generates less iodine than required. From our experience: it is recommended to use the salt therapy under a doctors care during which time they can monitor and reduce the amount of hormone they are prescribing for their patients.
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Europeans have known about this for a while, seeking treatments in the Polish salt mines since the mid-1800s. These rooms are designed to simulate those caves.
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Do salt therapy rooms work?
Dry salt therapy is a growing trend across the country. Around 275 dry salt therapy rooms have opened in the U.S. and Canada, up from about a dozen in 2010. People who run salt therapy rooms take pure salt and grind it into particles that circulate through the air, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller. When folks breathe it in, it’s supposed to fight toxins and open up the airways.
But many in the medical community say they’re not yet ready to recommend the treatment to patients.
Salt therapy room at Breathe Salt Rooms CBS News
Ellen Patrick invited us into one of the four “salt rooms” she owns in the New York City area. Salt covers the floor, lines the walls and flows through the air.
“It’s as simple as sitting back and just breathing deeply,” she said.
Her website claims “halotherapy,” as it’s known, can help alleviate symptoms of a variety of conditions including asthma, COPD, sinus infections, colds and the flu.
“Salt has natural healing qualities which are antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antiviral,” Patrick said.
Pulmonologists like Dr. Gaetane Michaud often have patients inhale high concentrations of salt with a nebulizer.
“Essentially what it does is it actually helps kind of clear secretions and mucus from the airways,” Michaud said.
The salt, she told us, helps thin out the mucus in the airways, making it easier to cough out. But she warns people with asthma should check with their doctors before entering these rooms, as it could increase the risk of an asthma attack among some patients.
“I don’t see a medical utility for this and I do see potential for harm,” Michaud said.
Salt bed therapy at Breathe Salt Rooms CBS News
“What do you say to doctors who have really raised a concern?” Miller asked Patrick.
“Doctors who are raising concern should look at studies,” Patrick responded.
Numerous studies overseas have explored the benefits of halotherapy, including one from Israel earlier this month which found salt rooms “may have some beneficial effects in mild asthmatic children.”
Yet research in the U.S. is lacking. The American Lung Association reports there are “no evidence-based findings to create guidelines” for salt therapy.
But some with asthma, like Antonio Staropoli who’s been doing it for about six months, say it’s helped them.
“It’s helped in terms of physical activity. I’ve noticed a difference,” Staropoli said. “I don’t get as winded as quickly, so it definitely helps in that regard.”
Europeans have known about this for a while, seeking treatments in the Polish salt mines since the mid-1800s. These rooms are designed to simulate those caves.
“This is not alternative medicine,” Patrick said. “It’s complementary medicine. It’s to be used in conjunction with your doctor’s care and whatever medication you’re currently using.”
A typical visit to a room like this costs about $35 to $50 for a session lasting between 30 minutes and an hour. Some salt rooms also offer therapy for children and yoga classes.
How and Why It Works
Active dry salt therapy is simple to understand. There are three primary characteristics of pure sodium chloride, NaCl, known as salt:
- Salt is super absorbent (especially when it is completely dry)
- Salt is anti-bacterial
- Salt is anti-inflammatory
This type of dry salt is placed into a halogenerator that then precisely grinds the salt into specific micro-sized particles and then disperses the salt aerosol into the air in a closed environment such as a room or chamber.
As the salt travels in the salt room, these salt particles of dry sodium chloride are inhaled into the respiratory system. The dry salt naturally starts absorbing allergens, toxins and foreign substances into your lungs and throughout your respiratory tract. Dry salt may help to reduce inflammation and open airway passages. The micro-sized crystal structure of pure NaCl particles breaks loose and clears out all of the ‘bad stuff’. This is the basis for how dry salt therapy can impact people suffering from respiratory conditions like allergies, asthma, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, COPD and others.
The properties of dry salt also absorb impurities and provide anti-bacterial properties that benefit the skin such as acne, psoriasis and eczema as well as regulates the skin’s micro-circulation. The smaller particles can reach beneath the skin’s surface and absorb moisture towards the skin. The larger salt particles land on the skin and absorb any bacterial and foreign substances. The dry salt accelerates cell rejuvenation and improves skin rigidity.
The climate conditions in a dry salt room therefore must maintain certain temperature and humidity levels and proper ventilation to ensure the efficacy of the salt therapy and provide a ‘clean-air’ environment for the consumer.
Passive salt rooms were created to mimic the natural salt caves found in Europe. These salt rooms may have large volumes of various types of salt décor inside a climate-controlled room. There may be Dead Sea, Himalayan, Rock or other salts lining the walls, ceilings and floors in these types of rooms. While today’s modern passive salt rooms often look like a natural salt cave environment, they do not provide the same salt air particles provided in natural salt caves since there are no direct actions like the mining activities (crushing, grinding, chiseling, etc.) to produce salt particles in the air.
There are some known properties of having large amounts of salt in this type of confined space that provides a clean-air environment and alters the energy frequencies in the room. Some salt dust may occur from the disturbance of the salt by people walking through the salt on the floor or by some other means. There are claims that heating Himalayan salt, similar to bulb heated salt lamps, generates negative ions which eliminate the positive ions that stem from electromagnetic waves from the various technologies and pollution that we are constantly exposed to. There is some salt erosion that when the salt evaporates, some salt particles are released in the air, but all of the modern research is based on precise sized particles of pure sodium chloride being consistently dispersed into the room at certain concentration levels over a period of time, which passive dry salt rooms do not provide.