What is Salt Therapy?

Deborah Walker

Salt therapy is an alternative medical treatment in which the patient is exposed to halite, or unrefined rock salt, mixed with other minerals. It is believed that the inhaled salt disinfects the sinuses and lungs. This therapy may also be enlisted as a treatment for other chronic conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and sinusitis. Treatment may be administered in caves, salt rooms, with a salt pipe, as a nasal spray, or by a salinizer. Salt therapy is safe and has no known side effects.

Rock salt, for salt therapy.
Rock salt, for salt therapy.

Rock salt may have properties that reduce inflammation and kill bacteria. Halite produces negatively-charged ions. These negative ions stick to the positively-charged ions of bacteria, viruses, dust, pet dander, and other unwanted particulates. Once these particulates are neutralized by the negative ions, respiratory function tends to improve.

Neti pots contain warm salt water that is used to irrigate the nose.
Neti pots contain warm salt water that is used to irrigate the nose.

Most of the studies validating salt therapy were conducted in Eastern Europe. A Russian study was designed to be undertaken in a chamber with the same humidity and pressure of a salt cave. The study demonstrated improved lung function and blood pressure in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and high blood pressure.

Other studies have shown similar positive results for asthma, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, or chronic sinusitis. One study conducted on healthy men and women analyzed the effectiveness of saline nasal spray in combating the common cold. Using a saline nasal spray daily prevented cold symptoms in these healthy subjects.

Therapy may be undertaken in salt caves, rock salt rooms, with salt pipes, or using a salinizer. In Eastern Europe, where salt caves are common, spas have been built for therapeutic purposes. Since not everyone has access to a salt cave, other advocates of salt therapy have created salt rooms. A salt room is an area wherein the walls are completely covered in rock salt. The rooms usually contain comfortable chairs and a television or other entertainment media for people to use during the 40-60 minute session.

Salt pipes are another method of administering the therapy. The pipe is filled with halite, and the patient inhales the salt through the pipe for 15-30 minutes a day. It is recommended that the pipe be used consistently as an adjunct therapy to continuous nighttime salt therapy.

Salinizers use ultrasonic vibrations to transform large saltwater particles into much smaller, breathable particles. The smaller particles are then distributed around the room by a fan in the salinizer device. The patient may freely breathe the salt while going about his or her daily activities or is asleep. Regular nightly 6-8 hour salinizer sessions are suggested for people with chronic conditions.

Salt therapy appears to have no side effects. It is safe for almost everyone and does not interact with prescription or over-the-counter medications. Inhaling the salt will not harm those who are on low-salt diets. Supplies may be purchased at some health food stores or online.

Studies have indicated that using a saline nasal spray daily can prevent cold symptoms.
Studies have indicated that using a saline nasal spray daily can prevent cold symptoms.

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