Halotherapy or salt therapy is a drug-free method that has been around for hundreds of years.
It originated in Eastern Europe in the 12th Century and grew in popularity across Europe. There has been a rise in popularity of halotherapy in the U.S. in the past five years. Halotherapy is said to help improve respiratory and skin conditions during repeated sessions.
Halotherapy is a preventative treatment in which a patient sits in a room filled with with pure mineral salt while more salt particles are pumped through the air. Sessions are typically 45-minutes and the room is designed to replicate the natural salt caves in Eastern Europe.
Feliks Boczkowski was one of the first doctors to discover the benefits of salt therapy after studying that the salt miners did not have as many health problems compared to coal miners. He discovered speleotherapy, salt cave therapy, which is slightly different than halotherapy, that replicates the conditions of salt caves. Boczkowski went on to open the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland in 1839.1 The practice grew across Europe for years. Since then, other doctors and people have discovered the benefits of salt therapy and opened businesses around the world.
Halotherapy in research
Even though salt therapy is highly practiced, there has not been a lot of research on the science behind it in the U.S. Many say that it helps with respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, allergies, and skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis. Salt contains more than 80 minerals that the body needs. The salt used in halotherapy is different than table sale. Pure mineral salt has many benefits including its ability to attract moisture to the skin and support water balance in the skin.
In February 2014, the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease studied the effects of halotherapy on patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). After reviewing numerous articles to see if halotherapy improved respiratory function and quality of life, the results were inconclusive. The researchers decided that for halotherapy to be considered an evidence-based therapy, more studies need to examine how much it improves the quality of life in patients with COPD.2
A study in the Journal of Medicine and Life in 2014 looked at the health benefits of speleotherapy on cystic fibrosis. The study examined the effects of speleotherapy in rats and found changes that support the therapeutic effects of speleotherapy in terms of morphology and protein expression.3
Another study by the Journal of Medicine and Life in 2014 surveyed the therapeutic effects of halotherapy on chronic allergenic respiratory pathologies and infectious-inflammatory pathologies. The study tested patients with bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive bronchopneumopthy and chronic bronchitis and found that halotherapy triggered anti-inflammatory agents in the body that lowered the trend of the inflammatory process. The results of the study concluded that the more time a patient spends in a halotherapy treatment, the better the results will be. It also found that the treatments reduced the sensitiveness of the body of bronchial asthma patients.4
While there might not be a lot of scientific studies to support the benefits of halotherapy, it is seen as more of a wellness practice than an established medical practice. The Salt Therapy Association admits that halotherapy is not a medical treatment of a cure to any disease. 5 Instead, it is a preventative treatment that can help with lungs and respiratory hygiene as well as skin and anti-aging. It is not recommended for patients with contagious diseases, open wounds, tuberculosis, severe hypertension and cancer. The FDA also does not recognize halotherapy as a way to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease. Patients who have tried halotherapy have seen results as an alternative form of wellness.
Adding salt therapy to your practice may help your patients as well as boost revenue and referrals. If creating a salt cave is not feasible for your practice, even adding inexpensive Himalayan salt lamps to your office may offer benefits.
1. Horowitz S. Salt Cave Therapy. Published June 2010. Accessed March 2016.
2. Rashleigh R, Smith S MS, Roberts N J, A review of halotherapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Published February 21, 2014. Accessed March 2016.
3. Lăzărescu H, Simionca I, Hoteteu M, Mirescu L. Speleotherapy – modern bio-medical perspectives. Published 2014. Accessed March 2016.
4. Lazarescu H, Simionca I, Hoteteu M, Munteanu A, Rizea I, Iliuta A, Dumitrascu D, Dumitrescu E. Surveys on therapeutic effects of “halotherapy chamber with artificial salt-mine environment” on patients with certain chronic allergenic respiratory pathologies and infectious-inflammatory pathologies Published 2014. Accessed March 2016.
5. Salt Therapy Association. Benefits of Salt Therapy. Accessed March 2016.