Halotherapy: Health Benefits from Salt

saltMost of what we read and hear about salt tells us to reduce or avoid it in our diets, because excessive sodium intake can cause many health issues such as high blood pressure.  Most of us only think of salt as something to flavor our food with, but in fact, salt has many other uses; most of which are beneficial to the skin and to the entire body.

I was mildly aware of the different uses of salt in relation to wellness. I had seen those pretty pink salt lamps at health and wellness trade shows, and at stores like Whole Foods Market, but I always thought they were just pretty.  I didn’t know they offered any health benefits.

salt glowI was aware of body treatments called “salt glows”, which basically use large grains of salt in a special oil base.  The salt/oil mixture is applied to the entire body, and is massaged all over to exfoliate the skin.  I have personally used salt-based hand scrubs, which gave me ridiculously smooth hands.  And of course I was aware of the popular home remedy of soaking a wound or sore muscle in a bath of Epsom salts for relief of inflammation and pain.  Beyond that, I really didn’t know much about other health-related uses of salt.

Recently, my friend emailed me the website of the Respira Salt Wellness Center in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey; and asked me if I had ever heard of such a place.  I told her what I just told you about my limited knowledge on the subject.  I was certainly intrigued though.  

And then, all of a sudden I started seeing articles and blog posts about salt therapy pop up everywhere.  This seems to happen to me a lot…I hear about something, and then I immediately start seeing information about it everywhere.  Whenever that happens, I take it as a sign from the Universe that I am supposed to learn more about it and write about it.  So, Universe (and Blogosphere), here you go.

What is Halotherapy?

Salt CaveHalotherapy is a version of speleotherapy, which is a longstanding healing practice that occurs in salt caves in Eastern Europe.  Exposure to the conditions inside of the caves (air that is pure, free of pollution and environmental toxins, infused with mineral-rich salt particles, and the correct humidity) is known to safely treat a number of chronic conditions.  There are several studies showing that salt therapies can effectively treat conditions such as:

•    Skin disorders such as eczema  (dermatitis), psoriasis, and even acne
•    Allergies
•    Chronic fatigue and stress
•    Sleep disorders such as insomnia and snoring
•    Sinus and ear infections
•    Viral infections like the common cold and influenza
•    Respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD, and smoker’s cough
•    Cystic fibrosis
•    Sore throats
•    And more…

halotherapyHalotherapy brings the specific salt cave-like conditions to areas that do not have salt caves. The effects are simulated using salt rooms (walls, ceilings, and floors are coated with mineral salts), salt cocoons (kind of resembles a tanning bed), salt inhalers, and machines called halogenerators (infuses the air with dry saline).

These technologies are then combined with a relaxing spa-like ambiance to heal the mind, body and spirit.

How does it work?

There is some science involved in this explanation, but from what I understand, the salty environment creates a healthy negative ion charge in the particles, which are inhaled into the body and absorbed into the skin.  These “live” particles work throughout the body to expel mucus, and push out toxins.  

The salt has a natural antibacterial effect as well, which is why the particles can treat bacterial infections of the lungs, skin, and ears nose and throat. The humid, mineral-infused air also promotes total relaxation and stress relief.

Halotherapy is become more popular.

I enjoy preparing and serving food on my pink Himalayan salt slab.

I enjoy preparing and serving food on my pink Himalayan salt slab.

Many people are starting to try aspects of halotherapy at home.  Those pretty pink salt lamps are made of mineral rich Himalayan pink salt.  The heat generated from the light bulb is supposed to activate the salt particles and release them into the air in that room.  Salt baths are becoming more popular as well.  You can use the pink Himalayan salt, Dead Sea Salts, or even Epsom salts.  The minerals and trace elements infuse the skin, and are released into the air via the humidity created by the warm water.  Inhaling this humid, salty air can help relieve congestion, and reduce stress in your own home.  You can even get special halogenerators for home, or portable use.

What is in salt that is so healthy?

Salt has more health benefits than the average person gives it credit for.  The relaxing and rejuvenating nature of this condiment is normally out-shined by its association to high cholesterol. However, modern and holistic health professionals now support the thereapeutic use of salt for its positive impact on health.  The availability of a MPH program online now empowers more people across the globe to chase their dreams of working in the industry, and maybe one day utilizing something as common as salt to care for patients.

Salts from mines all over the world (not your common table salt) contain minerals and trace elements that are essential to good health and wellbeing.  Unfortunately, due to inadequate nutrition, stress, and environmental factors, our bodies’ natural supplies of these minerals and trace elements have depleted, which leads to fatigue, illness, and chronic health issues.

According to Mountain Rose Herbs, “Himalayan Pink Salt has a rich mineral content that includes over 84 minerals and trace elements such as: calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron.” Dead sea salts contain these minerals, as well as bromine, sulfur, and iodine.

So, while you have to be careful about what type and how much salt you actually consume in your diet, giving halotherapy a try either at home or at an actual halotherapy center could relieve chronic symptoms and dis-eases you experience on a daily basis; as well as more serious illnesses and skin conditions.  I can’t wait to give it a try!

*Image 3 from Jakob Hlavaty

**See Disclaimer

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