Promising or Placebo? Is Halo Salt Therapy Successful Treatment
A personal or mental health day is something we all need. It's meant to relax and revitalize the body and mind, but what about the lungs and skin. 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 improved, 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 exposure to the salt work? Well, the scientific community isn't really sure. There are a lot of theories on the how, and how much from the tiny salt particles being inhaled killing off microorganisms in the lungs to reducing inflammation and decreasing mucus, or a mixture of these reduced symptoms. There is a relaxing effect, as well as a drying and antiseptic effect that can be transmitted through the skin and down the lungs. You literally absorb the molecules into every part of your body.
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 produce a cough sputum (a thick mixture of saliva and mucus), and trying to bring it up can be distressing and challenging to the lungs, muscles of the neck and check. When you think about the last time you had bronchitis, for instance, the discomfort from coughing can impact the entire upper back, lungs and neck tension. 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."
Salt Therapy and Cystic Fibrosis
As Salt therapy is becoming increasingly popular, we would describe a typical session involves sitting comfortably in a specially designed salt room and breathing in microscopic particles of salt. Sound relaxing? Well, it’s also proven to be effective for not only cleansing the respiratory system, reducing inflammation, enhancing athletic performance, and opening up air passages, but also for clearing up congestion by thinning out excessive mucus—a great boon for those suffering from respiratory illnesses. New salt therapy spa rooms have been opening up across Canada and the United States, as an increasing number of people begin to recognize its many health benefits. More recently, people suffering from illnesses such as cystic fibrosis are increasingly turning to salt therapy to complement their ongoing treatment.
We’re constantly under threat by an influx of irritants, pollutants, and allergens. This is especially true for those of us living in the city. Those suffering from illnesses such as cystic fibrosis are particularly vulnerable, leading to such symptoms as irritation and persistent cough. Breathing in salt provides a soothing respite that works to clear up air-passages by unclogging the bronchi and bronchioles from air-borne pollutants. Salt therapy also reduces inflammation of the respiratory tract by absorbing edema from the mucosa lining of the air passages. This makes it easy for thick and sticky mucus to be easily eliminated from the body, which helps prevents the blocking of air-passages (a common problem for those with cystic fibrosis) and works to alleviate discomfort.
While breathing in salt does not represent a complete solution for cystic fibrosis, implementing it into your total care strategy can enhance your overall treatment plan. The key to achieving this is by being diligent with your ongoing maintenance. Being consistent with your application of salt therapy is key for dealing with your symptoms because you’ll be repeatedly cleansing your respiratory system which prevents bacteria and infections from proliferating.
Depending on the severity of your case, one salt therapy session per week is often a good amount for most people. This schedule can be modified according to your individual needs. For instance, if you happen to catch a cold or feel under the weather, you could also add a couple extra sessions in the week in order to help accelerate your recovery; or, at the very least, provide you with some relief.
10 BENEFITS OF SALT THERAPY
Boost in confidence
Improved relationships with others
Improved organization skills
Improved attention span
Relief from common ailments such as hypertension, stomach pain, depression, and joint pain
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? We have taken the approach to offer this technique through a medication room, where the mind can be quieted and restful breaks from long and stressful days.There is also the question of how well maintained the rooms are since warm rooms could provide ideal conditions for the growth of bacteria. Reducing this risk through regular cleaning and reducing contact with street wear helps, but the bottom line: salt therapy should definitely be discussed with your doctor.
Come visit us at Koda Therapy Group in Palo Alto and try it for yourself.
Related Topic: Health & Wellness