BY: NADIA ZAIDI
From eczema to psoriasis, and even asthma, salts are being hailed as a beneficial form of alternative treatment for various ailments. It might seem like a stretch because we’re usually told to stay away from excess salt consumption, but this form of therapy uses salt as a means of inhalation.
Imagine walking into a room surrounded by crystalized salt glaciers. That’s what you can expect if you visit a communal salt spa. These spaces are designed to mimic salt caves seen in Eastern Europe, which date as far back as the 19th century.
So what do you do in a salt cave, exactly?
Simply relax, inhale and reap tremendous benefits. You are placed in a microclimate of dry, salty air for an hour. You are advised to repeat this a few times a week over the course of five to six weeks. It’s believed that the salt particles can clear mucus and reduce inflammation in the lungs, combating infections.
But what’s revolutionary for most of us is actually a part of recommended therapy for cystic fibrosis (CF) sufferers. In fact, many people with CF report feeling better around environments where salty water is present. For those unfamiliar with CF, it is a genetic disease, which primarily affects the lungs and digestive system due to copious build-up of mucus.
CF impedes upon the cells in your body that are responsible for mucus, digestive fluids, and sweat, making it extremely sick. That’s why hypertonic saline inhalation is part of daily treatments for almost all CF patients, as it allows mucus to break down and clear from the lungs.
The same concept is behind these salt spas. Salt therapy originated in 1843 by a polish physician named Felix Bochkovski. He discovered that salt mine workers did not suffer from respiratory, or lung disease that plagued other miners.
A similar discovery happened almost 100 years later by a German doctor named Karl Spannagel. He noticed that the patients he treated experienced profound benefits after they spent long hours hiding out in salt caves during World War II.
Pharmaceutical grade salt is also released into the air. They also get rid of pollutants, irritants, dust and allergens from our lungs. When the salt comes in contact with the skin, it reduces flakes and relieves redness and irritation. It inhibits the growth of bacteria and moistens the lungs.
And it’s also beneficial for your mental health, because the salts somehow induce a relaxed state of mind by positively affecting the nervous system.
Don’t worry if you cannot afford to go to a fancy salt spa. You can reap the benefits of salt therapy in the comforts of your own home. All you need are the appropriate types of salt and an apparatus that can effectively dispel them into the air.
It’s important to understand that salt therapy is recommended as a supplementary form of treatment, and not as a substitution for traditional medications and treatments against serious medical illness.