My game plan is to research, condense my findings, and translate it into everyday language for busy people.
What are Salt Rooms?
Salt rooms or rooms with Himalayan salt are becoming more and more popular within the United States. They are advertised as offering healing benefits to people who use them including improving acne, helping allergies, other respiratory problems, arthritis, and depression. Although many people believe that this is simply a placebo effect, Dr. Norman Edelman, Scientific Advisor to the American Lung Association, believes that the salt caves may have real healing properties. However, there has been little research substantiating these healing benefits.
Due to the fact that salt is a natural disinfectant when it comes to preservation and contains antibacterial properties, for centuries it has been used in medicine. People have been known to gargle salt water, use salt rinses for sinuses, and bathe in epsom salt in hot baths. The salt rooms are a form of dry salt therapy. Salt rooms are used in modern medicine as they have been used in ancient, traditional therapy.
When fine particles are inhaled, they will fall on the airway, thinning the mucus and making it easier to raise, thus making people feel better. Also, these environments are allergen free and thus good for people with allergies affecting their lungs."
— Dr. Norman Edelman, Senior Scientific Advisor to the American Lung Association
History of Salt Rooms
After the year of 1843, Polish physician Felix Boczowski observed that his patients who worked in salt mines in comparison with other miners did not suffer from respiratory or lung problems. One hundred years after this discovery was made, during World War II a German known as Karl Hermann Spannagel observed that the health of his patients improved after hiding in salt caves during times of heavy bombings. Other physicians had the same findings. Consequently, salt caves that were used for lung ailments such as pneumonia started opening up all across Europe. Modern physicians are skeptical that this form of therapy is merely superstition. However, in 2007 a study that was published in the Journal Pneumologia revealed that people who inhaled dry salt for thirty minutes a day five days a week for three months who had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (C.O.P.D.) had majorly improved symptoms.
The actual salt room typically contains salted floors, crystals, and relaxing lighting. However, they also contain halogenerators that crush salt into micro-particles and then disperse these particles into the air which replicates what being in a natural salt cave would be like.
Conditions that Salt Rooms Are used to Treat
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- persistent coughs
- sinus issues
There are a lot of theories on why this therapy might be helpful, which could be that the salt particles are killing microorganisms in the lungs, or that the salt is reducing inflammation and decreasing mucus. We do know that salt has anti-inflammatory properties and we have seen this in patients who do nasal salt rinses with a clean salt solution that there have been anti-inflammatory benefits."
— Dr. Payel Gupta, a spokesperson for the American Lung Association
Studies have been done that have revealed that the salt rooms helped people with respiratory problems after several one hour sessions. Since, there has been very little research put into salt rooms and their benefits, not much is known about any side effects that they have. Although the Salt Therapy Association claims that salt rooms are safe for children, they claim that pregnant or nursing women should consult with their doctor before use. Also, they recommend that people who have the following conditions do not use salt rooms.
- contagious diseases
- open wounds
- severe hypertension
- mental disorders
- active tuberculosis
In conclusion, not a whole lot of research has been put into salt rooms and their healing benefits. However, there is some evidence that they do have healing properties. Whether or not more research will be done to verify whether or not they should be added increasingly to regular medical practices is unknown. Yet, there are many people using them and drawing their own conclusions as to whether or not they benefit their health. This medical treatment has been used for centuries.
A visit to a salt cave was an effective method of self-care. But a cure for seasonal allergies? I’m not quite convinced.
- Promising or Placebo? Halo Salt Therapy: Resurgence of a Salt Cave Spa Treatment | American Lung Ass
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.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.