The use of salt caves for therapeutic purposes dates back to 1843. Felix Boczkowski, a physician working in Poland, noticed that men working at the Wieliczka Salt Mine had better respiratory health than that of the general population. Today, salt cave therapy, also known as halotherapy, is particularly popular in Europe, as there are thousands of salt caves located throughout the continent. In addition, there are hundreds of them in the United States.
These manmade salt caves are generally covered in slabs of Himalayan sea salt. Proponents of halotherapy attest to its ability to strengthen the immune system, relieve respiratory conditions, and improve the skin. Some experts on salt caves state that the effects of spending one hour in one are similar to spending an entire day at the beach.
“It is commonly believed that the Himalayan salt will release negative ions (electrons) into the air,” notes Alex Eingorn, the co-manager of Breathe Salt Room in New York. “Inflamed tissue is usually acidic, that is electron deficient, and thus, more electrons available will help the inflamed cells repair.” Read on to learn about some of the potential health benefits of salt caves.
Improve asthma symptoms
A small study found that children exposed to halotherapy experienced an improvement in asthma symptoms. The double-blind, controlled study, which was published in the October 2016 issue of Pediatric Pulmonology, included 55 children with mild asthma between the ages of 5 and 13 who were split between two groups. The results showed that members of the group that spent time in a salt room with a halogenerator experienced statistical improvements across a variety of quality-of-life parameters. Members of the control group, who spent time in a room without a salt halogenerator, reported no improvements.
Moreover, salt caves can contribute to well-being through their soothing ambiance. For instance, the Salt Therapy Grotto & Spa in Naples, Florida, features a cave that replicates the beach atmosphere at night with the backdrop of a full moon over the ocean and stars painted on the ceiling. The lights are also dimmed, and guests can relax in lounge chairs during the 50-minute sessions. Another cave offers a sunny ocean view and features a tent and sand area. Each of the caves is constructed with 10 tons of salt from 13 different locations, including the Himalayas, Poland, France, Hawaii, and the Dead Sea.
While Himalayan salt caves are the most popular form of halotherapy, others incorporate amethyst crystals. For instance, Flow Motion in Ferndale, Washington, has a cavern that has a capacity for four people and features amethyst crystals from Uruguay and Brazil adorning its walls that imbue the room with lavender, violet, lilac, and deep purple hues. Guests can relax on reclining chairs in the caves for 50-minute sessions and experience the healing powers of the salt, which is complemented by soft infrared-heated cork floors and the soothing sounds of waterfalls.
The spa owner, who is a member of multiple caving clubs, drew inspiration for the amethyst room from a cave in Pennsylvania and from Korean spas, which generally feature rooms covered in different gems and stones.
Reduce stress and anxiety
Sound baths are another form of alternative healing that has become increasingly popular in recent years. This meditative group practice involves the use of various instruments or tools, such as gongs and crystal singing bowls, to produce healing sound vibrations. The Asheville Salt Cave in North Carolina combines the holistic healing practices of salt caves and sound baths through a scheduled sound healing concert once a month.
The Asheville Salt Cave has more than 20 tons of pink salt adorning its walls and floors and its sound healing concerts feature various African instruments and singing crystal bowls. The frequencies produced by these instruments help calm the mind and, in some instances, have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Other salt cave businesses in North America, such as Quantum Float & Salt Cave and Himalaya Salt Cave, offer sound healing treatments in their respective salt caves.
Alleviate sinus and respiratory issues
Moreover, salt caves could potentially help to alleviate sinus and respiratory issues. In 2015, Montauk Salt Cave in New York was launched after the owner discovered the health benefits of halotherapy the year before when trying to find a solution for her son’s sinus and respiratory issues. After several doctor appointments and with no hope for a solution, she and her partner took their son to a salt cave in New Jersey. After one session, he slept through the night and didn’t have coughing fits in the following few days.
At Montauk Salt Cave, guests are prompted to relax in the Himalayan salt-filled rooms on comfortable zero-gravity chairs and can meditate, nap, or spend their time as they choose. Music is played during each session.