The Greek word for salt is “halo” and halotherapy, or salt cave therapy, is the latest trend in spa treatments. Salt cave therapy is rapidly becoming the new health fad in America. There are currently about 200 salt caves in the U.S. However, salt cave therapy is really not performed in salt caves at all. Salt caves are really salt rooms; with a womb-like, cave-like appearance. The health-benefitting salt walls, floors, and even structures are completely made of salt so that a person can immerse themselves completely in a totally salt-filled breathing space.
Patrons relax in these womb-like rooms that are filled with salt—typically Pink Himalayan sea salt, breathing in ionic salt vapors in hopes of
- detoxifying the body,
- improving the sinuses,
- clearing out breathing passages,
- for tapping into a heightened state of relaxation,
- and for oxygenating and improving the skin.
In some facilities, a halogenerator processes salt into micro-particles that are dispersed in controlled amounts to further suffuse the air with the healing powers of salt.
The History of Salt Cave Therapy
Salt cave therapy is not new. In fact, Eastern Europeans have used it for centuries. One of the first known salt caves used for therapeutic means was in Poland around the year 1248. Today, salt caves are scattered all over Europe and are very popular. Europeans are, in fact, very cognizant of the benefits of salt therapy because, in European countries, even medical professionals recommend salt therapy. In Hungary, for example, salt cave therapy is recommended by doctors and is even covered by health insurance. In other countries, salt therapy is often known as “Speleotherapy” or “Halotherapy.”
The First Salt Cave Therapy
The first salt cave used to provide care for patients by a “real” certified doctor was built around 150 years ago, by a Polish physician named Feliks Boczkowski, who had a lot of patients who worked in salt mines. He suddenly realized that he had never seen a salt miner who suffered from sinus and lung infections or diseases. So, he had a kind of “natural grotto” carved in the Wieliczka Salt Mine and began recommending use of the salt grotto to his patients who had respiratory difficulties. The treatments were so successful that news of this treatment spread, soon becoming popular all over Poland and then all over Europe. The Wieliczka salt mine is still used for salt therapy today.
In other countries, where doctors often recommend more herbal and holistic treatments for diseases and illnesses, like Germany, the types of conditions treated with salt cave therapy range from neurological and rheumatoid arthritis problems, to locomotor system dysfunctions, as well as sinus and respiratory conditions.
The Science Behind Salt Cave Therapy
Advocates of salt cave therapy attest that the reason salt therapy works is that the negatively charged ions in salt improve our health and can benefit mood as well. Studies published in respected medical journals actually support this claim, demonstrating that inhaling saline improves respiratory function in some individuals. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006, for example, found that in patients with cystic fibrosis, high concentrations of inhaled saline significantly improved lung function. Saline therapy has also proved to benefit smokers as well. Another study published in the European Respiratory Journal found that smokers who inhaled aerosolized salt experienced improved respiratory function as well.
Many salt cave therapy advocates love these caves for relaxation and breathing “positively” charged air as opposed to our “negatively” polluted air in America’s larger cities. And research has proven that people who live in cities with high air pollution, such as New York City and Los Angeles, are at a 20% higher risk of lung cancer than people who live in less polluted areas. Just as doctors once prescribed trips to dryer geographical areas with higher salt concentrations in the air for people with tuberculosis, salt caves work much in the same way. Himalayan sea salt rooms are often preferred because Himalayan crystal salt releases negatively charged ions, which attach to positively charged free radicals in the air and defuse them, ultimately creating air purified of toxins and pathogens of all kinds. Because of this asset, Himalayan Sea Salt cave therapy is already becoming a huge craze in the United States.
Salt Cave Therapy and Relaxation
Many salt therapy devotees go to salt caves merely because they find these womb-like spaces good for relaxation, meditation, and tapping into a higher level of consciousness. Most salt caves are heavenly in appearance—with white snow-like salt everywhere and twinkling blue or pink lights, or pink crystal salt glimmering everywhere while pink fairy lights twinkle all around. Now, many salt caves are turning these relaxing oases into multi-beneficial holistic wellness centers. Salt cave therapy owners are hiring masseuses and aromatherapists who can enhance the many health benefits of the salt cave to offer their clientele a multi-beneficial experience.
So, why not?
With its multitudinous benefits for respiratory therapy and relaxation, salt caves are sure to explode all over America and the world at large. It’s a craze, I believe, that is here to stay. The caves are beautiful, relaxing, and boast many proven benefits for lung health. So, why not try salt cave therapy is the real question!