Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wisdom Wednesday: Salt Therapy

The first modern references to salt therapy or halotherapy come from the mid-1800s when Felix Brochkovsky, a health official in Poland made the observation that salt mine workers rarely suffered from any colds, respiratory ailments or lung diseases. He attributed this to the salt aerosol being inhaled on a daily basis. People with asthma, allergies, emphysema and other respiratory problems began heading to the salt mines, and speleotherapy (salt cave therapy) was born.

However, people from all over the world have been traveling to the Dead Sea for the renowned health benefits of salt since the time of the ancient Egyptians.

Today salt spas are springing up all over the country. They utilize a halo generator that produces a dry salt aerosol of microscopic salt particles.

In addition to treating respiratory ailments, halotherapy is very effective for a variety of skin conditions including dermatitis, acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

My lungs are admittedly my weak point. I think it stems from working in a cold storage facility during Chiropractic College in Davenport, Iowa. I developed “walking pneumonia” (interstitial pneumonia) and suffered for several months. Only after a 10 day vacation on the beaches of sunny Florida did I slowly recover from the infection.

Since that time virtually any infection leaves me with a residual cough that typically lasts for months. In reality, I develop asthma secondary to the infection. Although I know a short course of steroids would probably break the cycle, to date, I have refused to take them.

After a recent infection and reappearance of the asthmatic cough, I decided to give the Salt Suite in Delray Beach a try.

The facility is very clean and the staff is friendly, informative and helpful. After checking in, you enter a lowly lit room in which the walls and floor are covered in salt. Several recliners are spaced around the room and each pod has an IPod Shuffle and headphones provided with Spa music and various meditations. The sessions begin on the half-hour and last for 45 minutes.

I found the breathing meditation very effective in the treatment of my chronic cough. Initially, the dry salt air irritated by cough slightly (as I was forewarned). However, by the time I finished my first session, my breathing was notably improved.

The staff recommended twice weekly sessions to begin with, but I opted to do one session a week to accommodate my schedule. At this writing, I have attended seven sessions and can say with absolute certainty halotherapy is effective for my asthma.

What I didn’t anticipate was the additional benefits the salt therapy sessions provide. The setting creates an environment that lends itself to meditation without effort. I finish my 45 minutes session feeling relaxed and renewed. While I’m not really a fan of “spa music”, it lulls you into freeing your mind. The dry salt forms a light coat on any exposed areas of skin and there’s a subtle taste of salt on the tongue.

I’ve learned to avoid Federal Highway, the most direct drive to Delray Beach, as the return trip with all the tourist traffic tends to undo some of the benefits of each session. Instead, I typically take A1A so I can travel leisurely and get glimpses of the ocean here and there.

The Bottom Line:
If you have a chronic respiratory condition or skin condition I highly recommend you try halotherapy. However, if you just want to experience 45 minutes of relaxation and bliss, treat yourself to a session.

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