Salt therapy, which involves inhaling salt particles, can help relieve the symptoms of a wide range of respiratory and skin conditions
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Salt Rooms: Relief is in the Air
Europeans have long held that breathing in salt has therapeutic properties. Read on to learn more about halotherapy.
Designed to mimic the natural salt caves common throughout Eastern Europe, manmade salt rooms often feature walls of saline crystals that sparkle amid sodium stalactites and piles of rock salt that blanket the floor. Rather than taking salt from the table or extracting it from soy sauce, these rooms often import their furniture from locales such as the Black Sea, whose briny waters have been said to hold therapeutic properties for centuries. Meanwhile, generators release microscopic salt particles into the room, filling inhabitants’ lungs and—according to many accounts—restoring their ability to breathe.
Though no clinical studies in the United States have yet proven the efficacy of what is known as halotherapy or speleotherapy, many cultures in Europe—and, increasingly, North America—swear by it. Experience suggests that even a single session in a salt room can help loosen mucus, clear lung and nasal passages, easing the symptoms of respiratory problems such as asthma, allergies, and clogged scuba hoses. The particles have also been reported to soothe skin ailments such as eczema and psoriasis, and the relaxing atmosphere of salt rooms undoubtedly triggers a key benefit: reducing stress.
Along with the anecdotal evidence, some scientists have begun to support the idea of halotherapy. A recent study found that Australian surfers with cystic fibrosis noted improvement in their breathing after inhaling sea spray, while another found that inhaling aerosolized salt improve smoking-related coughing and mucus production. Still, experts recommend only using salt-room treatments as a complement to modern medicine. As always, consult a doctor before entering a salty vault.