Salt rooms are becoming popular for therapeutic benefits.
What are Salt Rooms?
Halotherapy, or salt therapy, is a non-invasive treatment that is drug-free. It is said to alleviate a variety of conditions, such as allergies, asthma, sinusitis, and bronchitis. Patients with frequent colds, hay fever, ear infections, COPD, smoker’s cough, cystic fibrosis, tonsillitis, and sleep apnea may also benefit from salt therapy. There are some contraindications, however, as patients with certain medical conditions should not use halotherapy. People with infections and a fever, cancer and tuberculosis patients, those with high blood pressure or acute respiratory disease, and people who are intoxicated or bleeding should avoid salt rooms. For those who can participate in salt therapy, the salt enters the lungs and “kills bacteria, reduces inflammation, and loosens mucus”. There are rare side effects, but some people experience coughing after treatment. Salt therapy is safe for children and pregnant women. It is meant as a complementary treatment. The treatment rooms resemble a “salt cave” and the humidity and temperature are controlled. There is typically relaxing music and dim lighting for the 45 minute session. Comfortable dress is recommended, but patients with eczema and psoriasis should make sure that those outbreak areas are exposed.1
Usefulness of Salt Rooms
A 2006 study found that breathing improved for 24 patients after “inhaling salt-infused vapor”. After weeks of halotherapy, another study reported that asthma patients also breathed more easily. Some salt rooms have Himalayan pink salt, while others might have salt brick or other types of salt lining the “cave” or room. A way to clear sinuses is to introduce salt because it can “draw it out, dry it up…to get rid of it”. Reducing fluid reduces sinus pressure.2 The salt rooms are coated in salt and are pumped with “salt-laden air”.3 Some facilities “just pile salt in the room” while others use “salt generators” to make the air particulates. The type of salt used is “pure salt from natural sources”. More research needs to be done, but some doctors have reported improvements for certain patients. Dr. Daniel Layish noted that cystic fibrosis patients who have used the Orlando Salt Room have “less shortness of breath, less coughing and decreased sinus pressure”. Dr. Leonard Bielory, however cautions that salt rooms may only have a temporary effect and could irritate allergies and asthma. Dr. Alina Chervinskaya presented a recent study that found that a “tabletop salt generator…helped prevent colds”. Dr. Chervinskaya also noted that “10 to 20” salt therapy room sessions can have “benefits of up to six months or a year”, but that patients with asthma should have a lower dose to “minimize irritation”.4