A Historical Guide to Salt Caves: How Halotherapy Can Improve Respiratory Health And Other Ailments

It’s funny that a simple substance that most of us take for granted could be one of the oldest and most valuable compounds on Earth. Salt is responsible for opening trade routes throughout the developing world, was a crucial element of preserving food, started wars, and used as currency. The argument could easily be made that salt is one of the driving forces of civilization. This argument would be flawed, however, unless it took into account the healing properties that salt has offered human beings for thousands of years.

Have you ever noticed that your complexion is clearer, or a wound has healed, after a day at the beach? That’s because you’ve been covered in the healing powers of salt, swimming in the ocean and breathing in the salty air. For years, humans have used salt to heal both external and internal ailments, from the dead sea of the Ancient Egyptians to the salt caves of Eastern Europe.

Salt Cave Therapy, sometimes referred to as Halotherapy or Speleotherapy, was never acknowledged publicly until 1843, when Dr Feliks Boczkowski – a Polish doctor at a salt mine in Wieliczka – wrote about the strikingly low levels of respiratory illness in the miners there, which he attributed to the salt cave air heavily saturated with saline dust. Based on these observations his successor set up a spa and soon Salt Cave Therapy became a common treatment alternative for many chronic lung and skin conditions.

Halotherapy is an ancient practice that harnesses the anti-fungal, bacterial, microbial and inflammatory properties of the sodium chloride compound. Today, many people utilize salt caves and other types of halotherapy for a wide variety of reasons; ranging from improving skin complexion to fighting off common colds. Now, after years of believers making pilgrimages to the famed underground salt caves in Europe, spas all over the world are opening up their own halotherapy rooms. In cities like New York, Orlando, Naples, Fla., Boulder, Colo., Chicago and Los Angeles, owners of these rooms are recreating the conditions of underground salt caves so that people can get the healing effects no matter their proximity to the nearest natural salt deposit.

In many cases, this therapeutic inhalation of salt is achieved with a halo-generator that disperses tiny salt particles into the air. Many of these rooms offer an unusually relaxing environment, including a negative ion environment meant to reduce the symptoms of asthma and other allergies, as well as promote relaxation, decrease stress and create an overall feeling of well-being.

Although an official medical verdict regarding halotherapy and the effect of salt caves has yet to be published, this type of healing has been utilized by humans for thousands of years and is only growing more popular. With enthusiasm for organic food and the green movement at an all-time high, it would reason to believe there is a potentially strong market for this therapy. After all, maybe there is something to this funny, simple substance, that could be the key to a healthy life.