College of DuPage Nursing Student Linda Flores that relaxation is something we all want and need as part of taking care of our health. This is especially true as we live through our new “norm” with COVID 19. A new trend of relaxation that has emerged is visiting salt caves. In the health field, this is also called “halotherapy”. Actually, the idea of a salt cave has been around since the 1840s. According to the Salt Therapy Association (https://www.salttherapyassociation.org) salt caves originally began by a Polish physician named Felks Boczkowski who offered salt baths in the first health resort facility in a Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland. Boczkowski observed that the miners worked in the salt caves never acquired respiratory infections or lung diseases. These men were surrounded by slabs of Himalayan salt. One hundred years later, during the WWII bombings, it was discovered that those same men who had hidden in the salt caves never acquired serious lung diseases. Here we are, nearly 100 years later after this historic event and a new search to find manmade salt caves is occurring; either to achieve health-related benefits or for sheer relaxation.
WHAT IS A SALT CAVE?
Manmade salt caves are available for relaxation or to alleviate health problems. Inside, the salt cave is dim lighting and a climate-controlled environment made out of slabs of Himalayan salt. Most of these caves contain zero gravity chairs and floors made with sand.
WHAT DO THESE CAVES CLAIM TO DO?
The theories posit that the inhalation of tiny salt particles in the air will kill microorganisms in the lungs that potentially cause inflammation. For those individuals with sinus infections, allergies, or sinusitis, congestion may be relieved. According to the Journal of Medicine and Life (2014), the therapeutic effects of halotherapy in patients who suffer from many of these ailments demonstrated improved symptoms.
REAL OR PLACEBO EFFECT?
While not a cure for respiratory illnesses, the relief of symptoms has been observed at least temporarily, without a need for medications. Moreover, sessions in the salt caves are relaxing and may help to decrease anxiety for a short time. As with any type of therapy, however, it is advised to check with your primary care provider prior to visiting a salt cave.
Salt Therapy Association. (2020). https://www.salttherapyassociation.org/
Lazarescu, H., Simionca, I., Hoteteu, M., Munteanu, A., Rizea, I., Iliuta, A., Dumitrașcu, D., & Dumitrescu, E. (2014). Surveys on therapeutic effects of “halotherapy chamber with artificial salt-mine environment” on patients with certain chronic allergenic respiratory pathologies and infectious-inflammatory pathologies. Journal of medicine and life, 7 Spec No. 2(Spec Iss 2), 83–87.
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of 5 Star Salt Caves