Halotherapy means 'salt therapy' and has been used extensively in Europe for health and wellness. While it may seem strange that salt can effectively treat everything from asthma to eczema, there is an easy explanation. But first, a little halotherapy history:
(The image below is of a salt mine in Poland. Everything you see is carved from salt, from the chandeliers to the tile floor and everything in between. It's real, I've been there!)
The first known use of halotherapy was by the ancient Greeks and Ayervedic culture in India. Hundreds of years ago, European monks observed that patients treated in salt caves recovered rapidly from illness. In the 1800's, the Polish government documented that salt miners were not only more healthy than coal or metal miners, but even healthier than the general population. During WWII, salt mines were used in Germany as bomb shelters, where asthmatics noticed their breathing much improved. By the 1950's halotherapy was being scientifically studied in Russia. Soon after, halotherapy 'salt rooms' or 'salt chambers' with controlled environments were being constructed above-ground to recreate a salt cave or salt mine environment. A study recently presented at a Vienna medical conference found that a tabletop salt generator, not available in the U.S., helped prevent colds.
Halotherapy is now used all over Europe and Scandinavia in spas and health sanatoriums, and is beginning to gain ground in the USA and Canada in large cities.
(modern 'salt room' therapy)
So what's so special about salt? It's all about da ions. Positive ions(a.k.a. free radicals) are created by things like appliances, t.v. and computer screens, fluorescent lights, and air conditioning. Positive ions make us feel tired, irritable, depressed, and can even make us sick and age us prematurely because "the more Positively Charged Ions there are in the blood, the slower and less efficient the cell's metabolism. This causes the body's cells to become weak and the body will tend to get sick more easily and age faster."
Ever wonder why you feel so good after a thunderstorm, by a waterfall, in the mountains, or at the beach? It's not just the esthetics or beauty of nature. Lightning creates negative ions, as does the pounding surf at the beach or falling water.
"Fresh pine forest and seashore air carries around 4000 negative ions per cubic centimeter whereas city air during rush hour has around 100 to 120 ions per cubic centimeter." (source)
And salt is full of negative ions!
"Negative ions are beneficial to the human body in four major ways:
- Strengthen the functions of autonomic nerves
- Reinforces collagen (tissues that are resilient and tension-related)
- Improves the permeability of the cell's prototype plasma membranes (improves metabolism)
- Strengthens the body's immune system
Negative ions neutralize pollutants and provide positive effects on health to
- Stimulate the reticulo-endothelial system, a group of defense cells in our bodies that marshal our resistance to disease
- Act on our capacity to absorb and utilize oxygen. Negative ions in the bloodstream accelerate the delivery of oxygen to our cells and tissues
- Speed up oxidation of serotonin (5-hydroxtryptamine) in the blood. This is well known to have far reaching effects on mood, pain relief and sexual drive." (source
(image below of Himalayan 'salt room')
Salt therapy can even make you happier:
"And for a whopping one in three of us who are sensitive to their effects, negative ions can make us feel like we are walking on air. You are one of them if you feel instantly refreshed the moment you open a window and breathe in fresh, humid air." (source)
"Columbia University studies of people with winter and chronic depression show that negative ion generators relieve depression as much as antidepressants. "The best part is that there are relatively no side effects, but we still need to figure out appropriate doses and which people it works best on." " (source)
So, there probably isn't a halotherapy chamber nearby, but there are simple things you can do to reap the benefits of salt's negative ions.
1.) Himalayan salt lamps:
Yes, they are beautiful, but they are also detoxing the environment and your body!
(picture below of my own salt lamps)
"Himalayan salt produces negative ions that help purify the air of allergens, bacteria, dust, and other pollutants. When warmed the crystal salt emits a negative charge that enriches our environment and as the negatively charged ions enter our bodies they attach to the toxins and neutralize their charge, thus detoxifying our systems. Himalayan salt is known to reduce inflammation within our bodies."
2.) Salt Scrubs and Baths:
"Though it is traditionally eaten with food, Himalayan salt's impressive mineral profile also lends it well to external detoxification. Its minerals and negative ions easily penetrate the skin, producing a cleansing and detoxifying effect that can leave your skin and mind feeling rejuvenated and invigorated for hours thereafter." (source)
3.) Salt Inhalers:
These are especially good for your respiratory system, and to fight colds and infection. The salt crystals are placed inside a chamber in the inhaler, and the moisture in the air absorbs micron-size salt particles that are inhaled into your lungs.
So, there you have it. Now you are acquainted with the extraordinary healing and detoxing ability of salt, and how to incorporate a little halotherapy into your own life!