The Natural Healing Power of Salt Therapy

 By Juliet Aizen Turback

300px-Bad Soden_SalzgrotteSettle into a chair and breathe in the salty air -— very soon you'll feel relaxed and invigorated. It might sound like a visit to the beach with breaking waves sweeping salt particles into the atmosphere, but you are actually in a uniquely healthful space called a Salt Room.

For those of us without close proximity to the ocean, a Salt Room offers a way to benefit from a therapy that dates back to ancient Greece. The Greeks placed great faith in the healing powers of the salt-rich Mediterranean. Plato wrote, "The sea cures all ailments of man." Hippocrates, the "Father of Medicine," made frequent use of salt in his practice, including the inhalation of steam from salt water for the relief of respiratory ailments.

The natural curative powers of salt were rediscovered in Eastern Europe by Polish physician Dr. Felix Bochkowsky, who noticed that while coal miners battled chronic respiratory ailments, workers in salt mines were rarely ill — in fact, they were healthier than most people in the community. He wrote about the benefits and effects of salt dust in 1843, and his successor, Mstislav Poljakowski, went on to establish the first salt "inhalatorium" near Krakow, Poland. By the 1950s, scientific studies (conducted primarily in the USSR) were proving the effectiveness of salt therapy for treating a wide range of ailments.

Today, many of us have become disenchanted with the sheer volume of drugs that are prescribed so freely, when a more natural approach can be far preferable and much kinder to our bodies. Simulating a salt-infused seaside or salt cave micro-climate, a Salt Room provides a safe, alternative health-care regimen without side effects and long-term reliance on medication.

The surface of a Salt Room is covered in rock salt, mined by hand from deep within the Himalayan Mountains, crystallized more than 200 million years ago. The many hues of pink, red and white are an indication of the salt's rich and varying mineral content. During a private session, a specialized generator mechanically crushes pure pharmaceutical salt crystals at high speed into micro-particles and dispenses the aerosol into the sterile room. The client unwinds in a zero-gravity chair, and effortlessly breathes the salt-enriched air. The allergen-free and negative ion-charged room is refreshingly isolated, perfect for reading, meditating or sleeping.

The Salt Room experience is beneficial for people in good health, as it strengthens the immune system and recharges the batteries. It is also an excellent preventative for colds and flu. At the first signs of a cold, a visit to a Salt Room can prove more effective than over-the-counter remedies. Salt therapy can bring relief by opening nasal passages, killing bacteria and viruses, facilitating the drainage of the sinuses and reducing stress.

Salt therapy has proven particularly effective in treating patients with respiratory and obstructive airway illnesses. Salt particles kill pathogenic micro-organisms by dehydrating microbial cells, soothing inflammation, reducing the thickness of mucus, and restoring the body's ability to remove both mucus and pathogens from the airways. An asthma patient can start breathing easily after just a few sessions, and a complete treatment regimen of six to ten sessions can provide healthful benefits for as long as a year. In a similar way, by widening the airways of the respiratory tract, clearing it of bacteria and viruses, and reducing inflammation, salt therapy can bring relief for people with other respiratory issues such as allergies, sinusitis, rhinitis, bronchitis, emphysema and cystic fibrosis. It's important to note that there is no risk of a negative interaction with medications, making salt therapy an ideal complementary approach.

Salt therapy can also be a beneficial treatment for skin conditions like acne, psoriasis eczema and dermatitis. According to Traditional Chinese medicine, the lung meridian rules the skin, so inhaling salt air will positively affect first the lungs and then the skin. As salt therapy removes toxins and impurities, skin will look and feel better.

A Salt Room's abundance of negatively charged ions improves moods and relieves fatigue and depression. At the New York State Psychiatric Institute, researchers found that negative ions helped to alleviate the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of winter depression. Barbara Ann Brennan, healer, teacher and author of Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing through the Human Energy Field, believes that illness begins with a weakness in the auric field, or the "luminous body that surrounds and interpenetrates the physical body." Salt therapy can be an excellent preventative tool, as salt air and negative ions are thought to charge the auric field and create a more efficient flow of energy.

Salt therapy is both an age-old and a new-age healing treatment for the body and soul, a completely non-invasive, natural treatment with no side effects to harm the body in any way.

Juliet Turback of Aizen Organic Spa and Salt Room will be giving a free Meet the Practitioner talk at GreenStar called "Introduction to Salt Room Therapy" on Wednesday, Nov. 30, from 7-8:15 pm. To register, sign up at GreenStar's Customer Service Desk or call 607.273.9392. For more information about salt therapy and the Ithaca Salt Room at Aizen Organic Spa, visit

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