What is Halotherapy?  Does it Work?

 Halotherapy dates back to Medieval times however, we are only now starting to learn about the process and its potential benefits.  It has been used in Eastern Europe for over 150 years and it is starting to be used in North America now.  Researchers are studying the effects halotherapy may have on different illnesses such as anxiety, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and skin conditions like eczema. 

Halotherapy is the use of salt vapors to potentially treat skin conditions, lethargic mental states, and other ailments like viral infections, respiratory diseases, ear, nose and throat issues, cystic fibrosis, hay fever, smokers cough, and COPD (Chronis Obstructive PulmonaryDisease).

Salt is known to be anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and able to loosen mucus and phlegm.  Salt also produces negative ions which are said to help with a plethora of ailments, such as respiratory problems, hay fever, and skin irritations.  Some researchers have reported that salt therapy had more positive effects on those suffering from asthma and bronchitis than drugs or antibiotics.

Other benefits that have been reported from the negative ions of salt therapy are a reduction of stress, lethargy, depression, and headaches.  While negative ions may dramatically increase energy, mental clarity, and overall well-being. 

There are two methods of Halotherapy, dry and wet. 

Dry Halotherapy

Dry halotherapy is typically done in a salt cave which is man-made.  There is no humidity and the temperature is set to 68 degrees Fahrenheit or less.  The usual dry halotherapy session lasts between 30 and 45 minutes.  A halogenerator is used to grind salt into microscopic particles which are then released into the air for patients to inhale deep into their lungs.  During this process the negative ions produced by the salt are said to relieve irritants and clear toxins from your body.  You can also use Himalayan salt lamps in your home or office.  They work great in the bedroom and other living spaces.  They are even said to increase the productivity of office workers. 

Wet Halotherapy

Wet halotherapy is done by mixing water and salt.  This is accomplished by bathing in saltwater or using a saltwater flotation tank.  Other methods of wet halotherapy are gargling with salt water, drinking it, or performing salt water nasal irrigation.  You can combine both dry and wet methods especially if your symptoms are severe.

 How many halotherapy sessions should you have?

  • The number of halotherapy sessions you should have varies depending on what is ailing you. Typically you’ll want to do between 2 and 8 sessions for ear infections, colds, and flu symptoms.  For chronic respiratory issues as well as skin irritations you’ll do well with 12-20 salt therapy sessions.  The sessions should take place at least twice a week for 45 minutes at a time to maximize the effectiveness of the treatments.  You should perform each block of treatments 2-3 times per year for prevention measures and keep any issues from flaring up again.  If you just want to relax, rejuvenate, and simply relieve stress having a halotherapy session whenever you are in need works great too.

What can halotherapy help with?

  • Asthma, chronic bronchitis, smoker’s cough, ear infections, coughs with viscous sputum, dry cough, hay fever, breathing issues, pneumonia, tightness in the chest, sinusitis and or inflamed sinuses, eczema, respiratory infections, tonsillitis, rhinitis, pharyngitis, dry rales, sensitivity to household chemicals and industrial pollutants, and possibly more.

Can anyone use halotherapy?

  • Yes, even infants can be exposed to halotherapy as it’s a natural method of healing and 100% drug-free. It should be noted that children typically respond to salt therapy faster than adults. 

What do I wear during halotherapy?

  • You can wear anything you want during your sessions. Whatever makes you feel comfortable.

Is the air clean in the salt rooms?

  • Yes, as a matter of fact, the microclimate in a salt therapy room is said to be 3 times cleaner than a sterilized hospital room. Salt is anti-bacterial and salt therapy rooms usually have filtered ventilation systems so you won’t need to worry about catching any infections from others who’ve used the room before you. 

So does it work?

  • That is the burning question which seems to have many answers. Basically, it depends on who you talk to.  Alex Eingorna New York City Chiropractor is a proponent of salt therapy.  Eingorn says the salt helps your cells consolidate mucus and inflammation which allows your body to get rid of it more easily.  He says he’s seen people with bronchitis, allergies, cystic fibrosis, asthma, psoriasis, and other skin conditions see vast improvements after halotherapy treatments.  Eingorn himself has experienced great benefits from salt therapy.  He was a first responder during the 9/11 terror attacks and he had serious lung damage, however, he used halotherapy regularly for months and he’s now breathing clearly again.  He also added that his snoring has ceased after his salt therapy sessions.
  • A 2014 study about the effects of halotherapy on COPD was found to be inconclusive. Maureen George, Ph.D, RN and a member of AAFA’s (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America) Medical Scientific Council and Associate Professor of Nursing at Columbia University School of Nursing says “If you’re looking for a natural way to treat your asthma, halotherapy is not what you are looking for.  It has not been rigorously studied, despite claims from ‘experts’.”  Also according to the AAFA inhaling concentrated salts have shown to irritate the airways, causing mucus and coughing, which may make asthma worse with some people.  The AAFA says halotherapy is not likely to improve your asthma symptoms although it is probably safe for most people suffering from asthma.  The AAFA recommends being cautious and avoiding salt rooms or halotherapy sessions. 

The Take-Away

  • It appears there are mixed reviews on halotherapy and if it does really work. The contradictions are abundant as shown above.  However, it seems that including halotherapy in your repertoire when fighting or trying to prevent any number of the symptoms documented above may, in fact, produce positive results in the end.  At the very least halotherapy will probably make you feel more relaxed, mentally clear, and stress-free.  Proceed with caution and you should always consult your physician when attempting any new remedies for your ailments or disease.