What is Salt Therapy and How Does It Improve Health?

When salt is discussed in tandem with health, it is usually in reference to how much or little people should be consuming. Many salt lovers out there are often disappointed by the fact that high sodium diets aren’t the healthiest–salt just adds so much flavor! But there is another health discussion popping up around salt and this time it has nothing to do with eating, but instead with breathing: salt therapy.

Salt therapy, referred to as halotherapy, is a method of treating respiratory problems like asthma and seasonal allergies. It involves inhaling salt, but don’t worry—not in the illegal drug sense. The premise is rather that people enter a room that continuously pumps salt into the air and is filled with salt crystals. They sit in this room and inhale the air, which is supposed to mimic the respiratory healing properties of salt caves in Eastern Europe.

This respiratory treatment method is becoming increasingly popular, so much so that there are halotherapy centers appearing everywhere from Europe to the U.S. and Canada. Alternative medicine practitioners claim that these kind of salt humidifiers clean and cleanse the respiratory tract of toxins and build up; breathing in salt is an effective agent against mucus clog ups. Additionally, salt is also alleged to work wonders on the skin, cleaning the pores and keeping complexions looking young and clean. Hence, halotherapy can be seen as a health and beauty treatment all in one!

Salt therapy shines light onto the familiar old alternative medicine vs. mainstream medicine stand-off; many in the mainstream community brush aside halotherapy and many in the alternative community swear by it. However, halotherapy may just be a unifier between these divided communities: a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 concluded that inhaling hypertonic saline increased the lung function of people suffering from cystic fibrosis. And it doesn’t get more mainstream than the New England Journal of Medicine.

Whether or not halotherpay is 100% effective, the good news is that halotherapy has not been found to be harmful–thus, people can engage in it without running the risk of damaging their health. Of course, it is not recommended to indulge in halotherapy to excess. But for people who suffer from seasonal allergies and respiratory problems, then it might just be the cure that they are looking for.

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