Did you know…that simple salt can effectively treat respiratory ailments, anxiety, and even cystic fibrosis?
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, prescribed saltwater inhalation therapy for bronchial and lung disorders. But ironically, in the United States, the very medical institutions where his name is still so revered now reject this time-tested treatment for respiratory ailments.
This is unfortunate, because as Hippocrates and his colleagues discovered in ancient times, salt is a potent treatment, especially for respiratory health. And respiratory health with unobstructed breathing is arguably the foundation for overall health.
Advocates of salt therapy also say that this treatment addresses anxiety and stress symptoms, two of the most pressing problems of modern life. Considering all of this, it is no wonder the popularity of salt therapy—which can be administered in facilities or at home—has been quietly rising in the world of alternative wellness.
“Salt Dust” Comes Out of the Caves and Into the World of Wellness
In ancient Europe, monks had one simple prescription for ailments as varied as allergies…asthma…skin conditions…and depression—they would send their patients to the nearest salt cave. The monks noticed that patients who followed this treatment plan experienced significant improvements.
If there were no caves nearby, the monks would actually grind salt rocks against each other to create a cloud of “salt dust” for their patients to inhale. And the monks weren’t the only ones who thought “salt dust” had curative powers. European salt spas have been in business since the mid-1800s.
How Salt Therapy Works
Most modern salt therapy facilities, though they may still call themselves caves, are actually rooms coated in salt crystals and pumped full of air laden with medicinal sodium chloride.
Scott B. Wertkin, the owner and operator of The Salt Cave of Minneapolis, Minnesota, uses pharmaceutical-grade sodium chloride for inhalation, and Himalayan salt crystals to cover the walls and floor.
Some say the Himalayan salt’s only value is aesthetic, but Wertkin has a different opinion. “The salt I use here is incredibly old, hundreds of millions of years, and it has a strong energy.” Science hasn’t pinpointed the effects of the ionized energy he is referring to, but those who’ve visited salt caves report similar experiences.
To date, few studies have examined salt therapy, but the ones have certainly support users’ reports of its remarkable benefits. Here is a sampling of a few of the best studies to date:
- A 2006 study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed improved lung function in people with cystic fibrosis who inhaled hypertonic saline.
- The European Respiratory Journal published findings in the same year on the successful use of aerosolized salt for alleviating smoking-related symptoms such as coughing and mucus production.
- Over a 10-year period, more than 4,000 patients in a Hungarian study were treated with salt therapy. The majority reported improvement and long-lasting benefits.
How to Breathe Easier with Salt Therapy
Currently, only about 20 salt caves are operating in the United States. They are more common in Europe and Canada in part because insurance companies in those nations cover the treatment.
If there’s no salt cave near you, never fear, there are at-home options. Two of the most available options are salt pipes and salt lamps. The pipes are used to inhale saline-infused air, while the lamps create a micro-version of the ionized atmosphere discussed earlier. If you use the two in tandem, you can simulate the full range of effects produced by natural (or designed) salt caves.