Salt suffers from a bad reputation these days, thanks to its overuse in the Standard American Diet. Therefore, it’s no wonder that few people are aware of salt’s astonishing healing powers.
Yet, the fact is, salt has been known as a powerful health remedy since ancient times, especially for respiratory health and detoxification. In many ways, these two functions are the foundation of overall health.
This is because breathing is our primary life force, while detoxification is undeniably essential in maintaining optimal health—especially given our overexposure to modern chemicals and contaminants.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, prescribed saltwater inhalation therapy for bronchial and lung disorders. Today, the intentional use of salt for medicinal purposes is called “salt therapy” (also halotherapy, from the Greek word halos for salt, and speleotherapy, from the Latin word spalenca for cave).
Salt therapy involves the therapeutic use of salt mines, salt caves, or other forms of salt exposure to treat medical conditions—often with remarkable results.
The Discovery of Salt Therapy for Better Health
Speleotherapy originated in Poland in the 1950s, when medical providers noticed that salt miners rarely suffered from tuberculosis.
Long before that time, the naturally occurring salt caves in Eastern Europe were credited with improving symptoms of allergy…asthma…skin conditions…depression…and myriad other health problems.
European monks treated patients with respiratory ailments in natural salt caves. They noted that these patients got well much more quickly. The monks actually ground salt rocks against each other to release a cloud of “salt dust” into the air, which patients then inhaled.
As far-fetched as breathing “salt dust” may sound, salt spas have been popular in Europe since the mid 1800s—and recent research has shown that the benefits of salt therapy are very real. Gradually, this healing method is making its way into the United States and other parts of the world. Already, thousands have endorsed its positive health effects.
Modern Salt Therapy
Modern salt therapy involves sitting in a room coated with salt crystals and pumped full of salt-laden air. The best-known hub for salt therapy is the Ukrainian Allergologic Hospital in Solotvyno, Hungary. This hospital is situated in a former salt mine, nearly 1,000 feet below the Earth’s surface.
Staff at the Allergologic Hospital report a remarkable 90% effectiveness in reducing asthma symptoms for up to 3 years!
In 1995, the Russian Ministry of Health recognized certain salt therapy treatment chambers as medical devices. Dry saline generators (for infusing the air with salt particles, much like the monks did when grinding salt rocks against each other) have also been certified as medical devices throughout Europe. These devices have made considerable progress into North America, as well.
Salt therapy has been the subject of a substantial amount of research, with impressive results. Salt therapy has been shown to…
- Improve lung capacity
- Decrease microbial contamination of the upper respiratory tract
- Inhibit respiratory allergies
- Cleanse and detoxify your body naturally
Here are just a few of the studies showing salt therapy’s remarkable health benefits:
- A 2006 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that inhaling hypertonic saline improved lung function in people with cystic fibrosis.
- Also in 2006, a study of cigarette smokers, published in the European Respiratory Journal, found that inhaling aerosolized salt temporarily improved smoking-related symptoms such as coughing and mucus production.
- In one Hungarian study, more than 4,000 patients were treated with salt therapy over a 10-year period. The majority of the patients reported remarkable improvement and long-lasting benefits.
- 216 children with bronchial asthma were given treatment in salt mines with good results. The therapy noticeably diminished bronco-obstructive syndrome and improved pulmonary ventilation—and the improvements were stable in most patients.
- Another study focused on skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis in 112 children, with positive results.
Salt Therapy for Detoxification and Whole Health
While the research emphasis for salt therapy has been primarily related to breathing conditions, salt therapy actually influences the entire human body. The detoxifying effects of this drug-free, non-invasive, natural healing method have the capacity to greatly boost overall health.
“The whole microclimate with the right air quality, humidity, and salt particles is effective for cleansing the respiratory tract, the skin, and the body as a whole,” Ron Rofé, owner of Halo Air/Salt Rooms in New York City, told Reuters.
The effectiveness of salt therapy has been measured at 85% – 90% in adults and 95-98% in children with the following health conditions:
- Bronchial asthma of varying severity
- Pneumonia after acute stage
- Chronic non-obstructive and obstructive bronchitis
- Sinusitis, pharyngitis, stuffy nose, allergic rhinitis
- Postoperative rehabilitation and recovery
- Eczema, dermatitis, and allergic dermatitis
- Hypertensive heart disease I and II-A stage
- Neuroses and neurosis conditions in diseases of internal organs
- Cardiovascular disease
- Cough, chest congestion, sore throat
- Diseases of the endocrine system, immune system, hormonal problems
- Chronic fatigue, insomnia
- Cleaning respiratory system of a smoker
- Fungus problems (prevention and treatment)
Options for Trying Salt Therapy Treatment
Though best established in Europe, salt caves are beginning to pop up in the United States and Canada, as well. There are even ways to create salt rooms for home use, the most expensive and challenging of which would be to convert a small walk-in closet or basement room into a home “salt cave.”
Fortunately, other more realistic options exist, as well. Two options often recommended by natural health experts include salt lamps and salt pipes, both of which can be easily obtained online.
Salt lamps are made from salt crystals, the most popular of which are obtained from 250-million-year-old deposits in the Himalayan region. In one study, salt lamps were shown to increase the negative ion count of the surrounding air up to 600%. Negative ions—which naturally fill the air near waterfalls, forests, ocean areas, and even cities after a rainfall–are believed to enhance human health and well-being.
Salt pipes are devices used for inhaling saline-infused air. One Hungarian company has developed a product called the Salitair Salt Pipe Inhaler. This pipe uses salt crystals mined from Poland’s Klodawa Salt Mine. When you inhale air through the pipe, the moisture in that air absorbs micron-sized particles of salt from the pipe. Those particles are then introduced into your respiratory system. This “salty microclimate” exerts a strong cleansing action to flush away impurities.