One of the latest up-and-coming health and wellness trends isn't about eating salt — it's about breathing it.
Called salt therapy, salt room therapy, or halotherapy (after the Greek word "halo," meaning "salt"), devotees are heading to spas kitted out with "salt caves" simply to relax and breathe in salty air.
Salt spa converts believe that the air, filled with micro-particles of salt, helps absolve symptoms from chronic respiratory illnesses like asthma or allergies by absorbing moisture, clearing mucus, and killing bacteria. (Photo: Breathe Salt Rooms)
It sounds great, but is there evidence that salt therapy actually works? Some research says yes.
Beyond the anecdotal testimonials touted by salt spas, there is some compelling clinical research. For instance, a 2006 study concluded that salt chamber treatment significantly reduced bronchial hyperresponsiveness as an add-on therapy for asthmatics, noting that "the possibility that salt chamber treatment could serve as a complementary therapy to conventional medication cannot be excluded." Another study in 2007 called dry salt inhaler therapy useful adjuvant therapy for adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), ie, bronchitis and emphysema. Most studies are quick to point out that more research is needed, but but anyone looking for addtional ways to treat asthma, allergies, or COPA diseases, this is promising news.
What happens during salt therapy?
Treatment couldn't be simpler: For instance, in New York-based Breathe Salt Rooms' pink Himalayan salt chambers, spa-goers undergo 25-minute sessions where the only goal is to relax and breathe (there's no need to even change clothing). Breathe also has private salt beds and at one location, a kid-friendly salt room. It and most other salt spas also offer meditation and yoga classes within their salt rooms, but the main takeaway is the same: You're there to breathe the air. (Photo: Breathe Salt Rooms)
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One last thing: Can't you just visit the ocean and breathe deep?
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A trip to a seaside resort used to be the only solution doctors prescribed for people with respiratory illnesses, which is where much of the anecdotal lore of salt air benefits comes from. As Dr. Thomas W. Ferkol, a pediatric pulmonologist at Washington University in St. Louis told The Wall Street Journal, the anecdotal evidence is substantial, particularly among children with cystic fibrosis, a chronic lung disease. Salt rooms bring a concentrated, clean form of ocean air, that longtime cure-all, to people who don't have easy access to it.
Whether or not salt therapy is for you, here's several other theraputic wellness trends you should try:
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Tell us in the comments: Would you try salt therapy? Why or why not?