September 10, 2019 at 7:18 pm #21237
Promising or Placebo? Halo Salt Therapy: Resurgence of a Salt Cave Spa Treatment
A spa day. We all need one. It’s meant to relax and revitalize the body and mind, but what about the lungs? A new trend increasingly found at modern spas is halotherapy, or salt therapy—breathable salt particles intended to improve breathing. There has been news buzzing with the supposed benefits of salt therapy or halotherapy for lung conditions like COPD and asthma. But what exactly is salt therapy, and is it helpful or harmful?
Turns out, salt therapy isn’t new at all. Back in 1843, a Polish physician by the name of Feliks Boczkowski noticed that salt mine workers did not experience respiratory issues or lung disease vs other miners. Almost a hundred years later, a German named Karl Hermann Spannagel noticed that his patients’ health improved after hiding out in the salt caves while avoiding heavy bombing during WWII. The news of the benefits of salt therapy spread across Eastern Europe where you can find many locations offering these giant salt rooms today, from Poland to Germany to the UK. It’s even catching on in the States at Korean bathhouses where you can sit back, relax and breathe in the salty air while in a room made entirely out of giant slabs of Himalayan sea salt.
So how does it work? Well, the scientific community isn’t really sure. There are a lot of theories on the how, from the tiny salt particles being inhaled killing off microorganisms in the lungs to reducing inflammation and decreasing mucus, or a mixture of these hypothesis.
Dr. Norman Edelman, Senior Scientific Advisor to the American Lung Association, suggests that potentially, it could be more than just a placebo effect. Most people with obstructive lung disease such as asthma or COPD cough sputum (a thick mixture of saliva and mucus), and trying to bring it up can be distressing. (Think about the last time you had bronchitis, for instance.) Dr. Edelman suggests that it’s possible that salt therapy offers relief to these symptoms.
“When fine salt particles are inhaled, they will fall on the airway linings and draw water into the airway, thinning the mucus and making it easier to raise, thus making people feel better,” said Dr. Edelman. “Also, these environments are allergen-free and thus good for people with allergies affecting their lungs.”
At this point, there are no evidence-based findings to create guidelines for patients and clinicians about treatments such as salt therapy, which begs the question—should people be using a therapy without current medical guidance? There is also the question of how well maintained the rooms are since warm rooms could provide ideal conditions for the growth of bacteria. The bottom line: salt therapy should definitely be discussed with your doctor.
Has anyone tried a Salt Room? Did you discuss with your pulmonologist first? Did it help? If so, how?
September 11, 2019 at 4:20 am #21240Tony BuxtonParticipant
I moved from an inland town to a small unpolluted beach. my house is only about 250 yards from the beach. When is a seabreeze I go down to the beach and inhale the salty air.
after moving to the beach a lot of my respiratory problems improved. I would think that if the wind is coming from the sea and you breathe it you must be getting salt in your lungs in the same way as these so-called salt rooms
September 12, 2019 at 7:50 pm #21278Richard J ShankParticipant
Funny you should ask. When I was little we would go to the beach often. I noticed that after swimming in the ocean my wounds would heal faster (I mean, MUCH faster). When I was told there was no cure for this fibrosis I wondered if inhaling salty mist might help heal the lungs like the salt water did all my scrapes and cuts. I was afraid to try this because I wasn’t sure. Now I’m thinking I should get a vaporizer and put salt water in it. Of course, I could always go to a mineral spa and sit in it for some time.
Either way, what is working for me is Chinese herbs. I have stopped going downhill and have been stable for 9 months. I was going down pretty aggressively but I started Chinese herbs (Wei Labs at first) in March. Then I found a Chinese doctor in Seattle and I’m using his ‘soup’. My wife is Chinese and she cooks the soup up for me daily. Yuk! But it works so I drink it twice a day.
September 13, 2019 at 7:31 pm #21296
Thanks for sharing your experience with salt water/the ocean and the impact it had on wounds on your body. I agree, I think we have a lot to learn from the natural healing powers of salt water and “beach” therapy. Salt lamps, rock spas with salt diffusers and sea salt pools must all have some benefit. Thanks for sharing!
I’m glad the Wei herbs have been working for you too. More and more people are talking about the benefits of these herbs, so thank you for sharing.
September 11, 2019 at 8:41 am #21244
I like the natural way of breathing salt air too and think it is safer.
I live inland and a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean and enjoy taking walks along the boardwalk.
The thing about these rooms that concern me is what else are we breathing? Are the room vent systems cleaned properly? Are the rooms/methods regulated? I remember when I was first evaluated for lung disease, I was asked if I used saunas, Jacuzzi etc.
Thank you for reply and approach and keep enjoying those sea walks!!!
- This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by Lorraine.
September 11, 2019 at 9:05 am #21251
This is a great topic – thanks for starting the conversation! Primarily, I’d agree that the natural salt water that comes off the breeze oceanside is probably best, but I have also tried a salt room at a local “Rock Spa”. They have a salt room in the back with relaxing chairs, and the salt is diffused through the vents into the room. I didn’t find a drastic difference when trying this, I’ll admit, though it did encourage a cough which I think broke up some mucous I had in my lungs after a viral/bacterial thing. That was the only benefit I really found from it, aside from relaxation! I also have a salt inhaler which I purchased at this same spa, although I can’t say I find it really beneficial and I often forget to use it with all the other medications I manage. Interested to hear from others though, if this natural remedy has helped them!
This is also something I hope my Hawaii trip will benefit me, I plan to spend a ton of time inhaling the salt water air and in the ocean 🙂
September 11, 2019 at 9:26 am #21253
Thank you for your insight and for sharing your Salt Room experience. Also, for telling us about the salt inhaler, that is new to me.
And yes breaking up mucous and relaxing are excellent benefits.
Did you speak to your pulmonologist prior to using the salt room?
Wishing you a wonderful, fun and safe trip, enjoy that sea air!
September 11, 2019 at 7:58 pm #21263
Thank you so much Lorraine, I am so appreciative of your kind words and everyone’s excitement about my trip. It feels like I am sharing it with a very special community of friends! You can see a picture of the salt inhaler I purchased here if interested:https://pulmonaryfibrosisnews.com/forums/forums/topic/inhaler-use-for-pulmonary-fibrosis/ … I haven’t used it in quite awhile.
In hindsight, I probably should have asked my doctor about using it first but I didn’t. Probably a good idea 🙂
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