A new type of spa experience is springing up in the US that not only benefits the skin but also is a benefit for the lungs. Salt therapy benefits are said to improve breathing for those with conditions, such as asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

It isn't a new treatment idea. It dates back to 1843 in Poland, when a doctor by the name of Feliks Boczkowski noticed that unlike other miners, the salt miners didn't suffer from lung disease or other respiratory issues. During WWII in Germany, Karl Hermann Spannagel noticed his patient's health had improved after they had sought refuge in the salt caves to avoid the bombing from the war.

Salt therapy benefits rapidly spread across Eastern Europe where it is practiced today from the UK to Germany and Poland. It is even popular in Korean bath houses in the US where you can sit in rooms made of Himalayan sea salt and breathe the salty air they exude.
What are the benefits?

What Is Salt Therapy?

Halotherapy, or dry salt therapy, is a natural, drug-free and holistic practice that uses microparticles of salt to improve overall wellness. it is said to improve endurance and physical fitness, foster sounder sleep, promote healthy skin and improve breathing. It is also used to alleviate skin and respiratory conditions.

History of Salt Therapy Benefits

Ancient philosophers and healers have recommended inhaling salt for health problems and respiratory issues for many years. The concept of dry salt therapy comes from cave therapy, or speleotherapy, and the Polish Wieliczka salt cave. Today Europe has thousands of salt rooms.

Salt affects our blood sugar levels, energy and cell activity. Dead Sea and Himalayan salt contain 84 elements---along with trace elements---found in the human body. The detoxifying and calming effects of this therapy support the lymphatic, nervous and immune systems. They provide better sleep patterns, increase energy and reduce headaches and stress. Also, pure minerals salts are moisturizing and attract moisture to the skin.

Salt Rooms In The US

There are nearly 200 salt rooms or salt beds in the US. Some of them offer other services, such as massage or other treatments, that can be coupled with salt therapy.

How Does It Work?

Tiny microparticles are created by grinding the salt while they are being dispersed into the salt bed or salt room. While relaxing, customers can breathe the dry, salt-infused air into their lungs where the salt therapy benefits can be felt most. Salt loosens mucus and widens the airways. Inflammation is reduced and breathing is easier.

The particles that land on the skin stimulate microcirculation, stimulate new cell growth, increase rigidity, regenerate the skin and balance pH. The floors of the salt rooms are covered in Himalayan salt, and the lamps are made of salt as well. This generates negative ions that balance out the positive ions generated from the use of electronic devices. This helps you to de-stress, relax and improves your emotional and mental health. Results of this therapy can often be felt for an entire year.

Difference between a Salt Room and a Salt Bed

Salt room sessions can last for 25 minutes; they affect the respiratory system as will a salt bed. For those who want more of a skin benefit, a salt bed would be a better option. It allows one to disrobe completely whereas a salt room is usually shared by others where people are partially-clothed.

Salt Room - You can do this in a group or alone. It mimics a salt cave; the walls and floor are covered in Himalayan salt. You will typically be lying in a recliner to relax and breathe in the salt air. The salt particles are dispersed by a halo generator. You can meditate, sleep or listen to music during the therapy.

Salt Bed - This is also a 25-minute therapy similar to a tanning bed. It is a private setting where you can disrobe for full benefits. The salt bed offers chromo-therapy.

How to Prepare for Treatment

Comfortable clothing should be worn in the salt room. A bathing suit would be best allowing as much of your skin to be exposed.

Potential Salt Therapy Benefits 

Everyone can benefit from this therapy, it provides a detox for the following conditions:

Lungs

  • Sore throats, laryngitis
  • Ear infections
  • Wheezing
  • Snoring, sleep apnea
  • Smoker's cough
  • Sinusitis, chronic sinusitis and rhinitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Emphysema
  • Hay fever, allergies
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • COPD
  • Bronchitis, chronic bronchitis and bronchial infections
  • Breathlessness and chest tightness
  • Asthma

Skin

  • Aging skin
  • Psoriasis
  • Rosacea 
  • Eczema
  • Flaky, dry skin
  • Dermatitis
  • Acne

Salt provides the following benefits:

  • Reduces IgE levels (oversensitive immune systems)
  • Removes airborne pollen
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antibacterial

Salt Therapy can help:

  • Prolong remission time
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Increase resistance to respiratory tract disease
  • Clear sticky phlegm and mucus from the lungs
  • Alleviate shortness of breath, coughing, and sneezing
  • Reduce hospital admissions
  • Improve lung function
  • Reduce the need for antibiotics and inhalers

How Effective Is Salt Therapy?

Efficacy is 75-98% in most people who do one to two sessions a year.

How Often Can It Be Done?

How often you do salt therapy depends on your condition and your age. For long-term results, it is recommended that 20-30 sessions be done 2 to 3 times a week. For more serious conditions, a two to three month follow-up is recommended to keep the lungs clear.

Safe for Children

Salt therapy is drug-free and safe for both adults and children. Salt therapy benefits have been noted in children as young as three months old. Children are affected by respiratory issues much more than adults because their lungs aren't fully developed until they are around nine years old. They can pick up viruses more often in school and on playgrounds. Environmental pollutants also affect children more than adults.

Medication Use and Salt Therapy

Salt therapy is used as a complimentary therapy to whatever medications you are taking. It can actually help people reduce their dependence on some medications and the frequency of their need for them. It is best to follow your doctor's advice as to your best practices.

Pregnant Women 

Women who are pregnant can enjoy salt therapy benefits when they suffer from respiratory illnesses, allergies, asthma or sinusitis without the use of medications. The ionized particles are also a great boost for their immune systems.

Dry Versus Wet Salt Therapy

The difference between wet and dry salt therapy is that wet salt therapy is done by using a saline solution to irrigate the sinuses. It reaches the upper airway and not the lungs or the throat. Salt therapy benefits with dry salt help the lungs and the skin; it's a more full body experience compared to wet salt therapy, which is an irrigation method.

When Will You See Results?

This will vary by person and the severity of his or her condition. For those with seasonal allergies, they should consider salt therapy whenever the season comes around that bothers them. Some people will only have a salt therapy treatment in the winter when they are prone to getting colds and coughs.

salt spa

Some Places You Can Visit In The US for Salt Therapy

Breathe Easy Dry Salt Air Therapy Wellness Centers

There are four locations in the New York area. Clients say they can feel the effects immediately although some people will need more than one session to notice a difference.

Salt Cave Santa Barbara

The largest Himalayan salt cave in North America, this was inspired by a salt cave in Vermont. It is a place where people can go to relax and detox.

The Salt Grotto

Florida's salt cave offers a Respiratory Hygiene program that is referred to as a "lungbrush."

Asheville Salt Cave and Salt Spa

North Carolina's salt cave offers 20 tons of salt rock crystals.

Conclusion

The natural healing properties of dry salt therapy are anti-fungal, anti-viral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Himalayan salt is used with dry salt therapy as it contains the most negative ions and acts as a purifier. Fluorescent lighting, cell phones and computers all emit positive ions which tend to irritate. Negative ions counter these devices and relax us.

Salt therapy is also an effective method used in relieving many respiratory issues, such as mucus from a cold or allergy. Skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema, also improve with salt therapy. These conditions are inflammatory, and the salt acts as a defoliant to slough off the dead skin revealing new healed skin. After a treatment you should drink plenty of water as salt is dehydrating. Don't shower immediately; allow the salt to stay on the skin to soften it and exfoliate.

Group setting salt room treatments are usually 30-40 minutes long. A salt bed treatment can be done in as little as 10-15 minutes. You should discuss what the best options for you are with your doctor. If you suffer from conditions that produce a lot of phlegm and are affecting your energy, look into salt therapy. Salt baths are popping up all over the country. There may be one in your area.

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