Salt therapy, also called halotherapy, can be an extremely beneficial alternative treatment for many issues and illnesses. Long story short — salt therapy essentially involves breathing in salty air, usually in a salt room at a salt therapy studio. The increasingly popular healing modality has a wide range of benefits — it is an antihistamine, antiviral, and also anti-inflammatory. It has been said to help significantly with chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and allergies. Salt therapy can also significantly improve sinus congestion. Once you inhale, the salt causes the mucus in your sinuses to thin and liquify, making it easier to drain. One 2014 study conducted on rats showed that salt therapy may even help asthma. Skin conditions have also been said to be improved by halotherapy including psoriasis, acne, and eczema. Other claims suggest it may be helpful for anxiety and depression.
Although it’s exploding in the modern wellness scene, salt therapy actually dates back to the mid-1800s when a physician in Poland noted that miners who worked in salt caves did not develop lung disease.
In 1890, the Odessa Science Research Institute in Ukraine created the first halotherapy device, which was able to replicate the grinding of salt and disperse salt particles into the air, mimicking the conditions of an underground salt mine.
During World War II, a German physician also found that people who used salt mines as makeshift bomb shelters also had improvement in respiratory symptoms. Not long after, salt therapy became a popular form of healing in the 1950s and 1960s and it is still common for people to visit natural caves in Eastern Europe.
In the United States, salt therapy is becoming increasingly popular in big cities — as exposure to pollution is something we deal with on a daily basis. A new salt therapy studio SALT Live Energized in New York City recently opened in SoHo. SALT was created to help New Yorkers recover from the effects of urban living. Using naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial elements, SALT’s mission is to mitigate the harm of polluted air.
The next question is — what exactly does a salt therapy session entail? I wanted to see the benefits for myself, so I went to OC Salt Therapy in Orange County to get a treatment. During the treatment, a specifically designed halogenerator disperses microscopic particles of rich mineralized dead sea salt into the room. Overall, my treatment lasted about 45 minutes — but due to my state of deep relaxation it felt a lot faster! During a treatment you can breathe through your nose or mouth; regardless, the salt will be effectively inhaled into your lungs. There is also the added external benefit of the salt landing on your skin. Typically, it’s recommended to do salt therapy at least once a week to receive maximum results.
Personally, the most notable improvement to my health was physically feeling relief from some sinus congestion about halfway through the session. OC Salt Therapy’s owner, Cindy Gallant, was able to give me some more information on the benefits of halotherapy.
“The negative ions in the salt kill bacteria, purify the air, reduce radiation, and increase overall well being. The ionization also relieves fatigue, bronchial cold, ADHD, burnes, and sinus problems. It can also help regulate sleep, reduce signs of aging, and support respiratory health.”
In speaking with Cindy, she was able to share with me some of the drastic positive effects that salt therapy has had on her clients; one client gained back her ability to breathe through her left nostril, and another had a drastic reduction in eczema. Salt therapy is generally considered very safe for most people, and most salt therapy rooms conduct a thorough medical questionnaire to ensure that you don’t have any contraindications before receiving treatment.
If you want the benefits of salt therapy but don’t have a salt therapy room nearby, a salt inhaler is a great, portable option that still allows you to soak in the benefits of halotherapy. We love this one from Living Libations and recommend pairing it with the Longevity Liquid oil. Similar to salt rooms, these small inhalers can offer relief for those with congestion, asthma, and respiratory problems by thinning mucus.
Overall, salt therapy can offer great relief from many respiratory symptoms and is also an incredibly calming and grounding way to spend 40 minutes of your day.
Ali Parsons graduated from The University of Washington with a degree in Media & Communications. She is passionate about nutrition, health, and wellness and is currently in the process of becoming a Registered Dietitian. Ali enjoys cooking, running, yoga, hiking and travel!