The latest wellness treatment to make waves promises to do so in the spirit of an ocean tide, providing a sense of relaxation usually reserved for beach days. Salt caves are being touted as a natural way to improve breathing, fend off the common cold, rejuvenate skin and more.
Simply stepping into these grotto-like rooms can provide an immediate feeling of calm. Once inside, sit back and relax or participate in a yoga class, the health benefits are reportedly the same. Studies indicate that dry salt air offers more to the body than moist air. The caves are filled with pink rock salt imported from the Himalayas and each is outfitted with a halogenerator, a machine that grinds salt into very fine particles that can reach deep into the respiratory tract, including the sinuses, bronchial tubes and lungs.
Yoga therapist and breathing expert Ellen Patrick, who co-owns Breathe Salt Rooms throughout New York said, “Dry salt therapy is a very effective, natural modality for supporting the respiratory system.” Marcy Bishop-Guzman, R.N. and owner of Port Jefferson Salt Cave agreed, telling Pulse that breathing in salty air reduces pathogens, which can cause respiratory tract inflammation, leading to breathing problems such as asthma and COPD.
Even people suffering from the common cold could benefit from a trip to the salt cave. “Salt caves may kill the bacteria festering in sinus infections and destroy the cold and flu virus,” Patrick said. The grottos are effective in drying mucus that lingers in the lungs of individuals suffering from cystic fibrosis, an inherited disease where the lungs fill with mucus making it difficult to breath, she added. “The healing components of salt are anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral.”
Salty air also works as a natural disinfectant, which can help detox the immune system, nervous system and lymphatic system. In addition, the antibacterial properties can help people with skin issues, such as eczema, psoriasis, rashes and even acne. The rooms are also aesthetically pleasing, filled floor-to-ceiling with beautiful pink salt that emits negative ions. “It counters the agitating effects of positive ions, which are emitted from electronic equipment and fluorescent lighting,” Patrick said. “When clients emerge from the salt room, they are always surprised by how peaceful they feel.”
Breathing in salty air increases oxygenation in the body. The result is a boost in energy and overall health, Bishop-Guzman added. “As human beings, we make positive ions as a byproduct of our metabolism. As these are counteracted both internally and externally, it promotes a sense of wellbeing and visceral relaxation. This promotes better sleep and less anxiety,” she shared.
The best part, according to Patrick, is that there are no downsides or negative side effects to experiencing a salt cave. Bishop-Guzman noted though, that some people, including anyone with an open lesion in the respiratory tract or end-stage COPD may want to refrain from salt caves.