This is certainly not a dark, damp, bat inhabited cave. This is something altogether different. Think sauna, but without the stifling heat: a true relaxation station.
If relaxation is all the therapy you are looking for, then salt cave therapy will most likely deliver. Rest your eyes on these salty sanctuaries.
Saltana Salt Cave, Ridgefield, Connecticut
Montuak Salt Cave, Long Island, New York
Primal Oceans Salt Cave, La Grange, Illinois
Salt cave therapy, closely related to dry salt therapy, also known as halotherapy (halo, is Greek for salt), involves immersing one’s self in a salt covered room or cave—particularly, Himalayan sea salt. Integral to these salt caves, is the use of a halogenerator, a device that helps to distribute salt in the room by grinding the salt into minute particles and then releasing them into the air. The room is relatively cool, with low humidity. A therapy session can be singular, although many studies involve 10-20 sessions. A session is typically between 30 to 60 minutes.
Salt Cave Therapy: Mechanism of Action
The low humidity and relatively high salt concentration in the air is believed to help decrease fluid build up in the bronchial glands, decrease inflammation, and dissolve mucus. The environment also acts as an expectorant (like Mucinex), where the mucus in the lungs is cleared more easily. In other words, if there’s gunk in your lungs, it’s coming out. We’re sorry, there’s just no way to make that glamourous. Well…the fairy lights help. You might want to consider leaving your significant other at home for this one. Carried out with that mucus are elements that are irritating your lungs, like pollutants, and allergens. Salt also inhibits the growth of certain bacteria, and has been shown to even kill bacteria. Halogenerators also act as ionizers, releasing negatively charged ions. As we exhale positively charged ions like bacteria, pollutants, and allergens, these negative ions attach themselves to those positively charged particles and bond together to create dense particles that cannot float in the air. This helps to maintain air that is free and clear of potential respiratory irritants. In other words, these caves are much more effective than your average Himalayan salt lamp. We’re still keeping those around though, for sheer ambiance factor.
Salt Cave Therapy: Origins
According to the Salt Therapy Association, modern salt therapy originated from salt mining caves in Europe and Russia. Miners, in the process of mining, acted as human halogenerators in a naturally ideal environment. In Poland, Dr. Feliks Boczkowski observed that these minors oddly—benefitted from robust health. A true mystery at a time when mining was considered a hazardous occupation. After observing their apparent good health, and even more interesting, their healthy lungs, Dr. Boczkowski, opened up the first therapeutic salt cave in Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland in 1839. During WWII, German physicist Dr. Karl Hermann Spannagel, later observed that citizens whom had used a local salt mine as a bomb shelter, experience marked improvements to their respiratory health. Dr. Spannagel believed his observations were a result of the presence of trace minerals found in salt slabs and particles. Since then, several studies have been conducted on the possible health benefits of dry salt therapy for asthma, allergies, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Cystic Fibrosis.
Halotherapy and Asthma & Allergies
Halotherapy and Eczema
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Risks and Limitations of Salt Cave Therapy
Salt Cave Therapy is not a single solution for any ailment. The most common sentiment between positive studies centered around halotherapy is that it is to be used as a complimentary treatment, to be used in conjunction with other more effective treatments. One session is not enough. Most studies recommended a minimum of 10-20 sessions, and where studies involving less sessions (5-9) showing less promising respiratory results.
Things to consider prior to scheduling your first salt cave therapy session.
- If you have extremely sensitive skin it would best steer clear of salt cave rooms prior to consulting your dermatologist as exposure to large amounts of salt can cause rashes.
- Hypertension or high blood pressure rises with salt consumption.
- Individuals with Kidney Disease should hydrate prior to scheduling a salt cave therapy session. Usually it is prohibited to bring water into salt caves as humidity is strictly controlled.
- Because salt cave therapy has been shown to boost immunity, it is not advised to undergo halotherapy during chemotherapy. It is however a potential treatment in between chemotherapy sessions to help the immune system bounce back more quickly.
If you have any of these conditions or any other existing condition it would be best to consult a medical practitioner before scheduling your first salt cave therapy session.
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