Friday, February 25, 2011

Salt That’s Good For You

A salt room at Halo/Air Salt Rooms in New York City.
(Photo © Maria Wakem)

Low sodium. Less salt. No salt. Check out food labels at your local supermarket, and you’ll realize that we’ve been conditioned to think that salt is bad. Of course, anything in excess can have harmful health effects. But if the salt room therapy trend is any indication, salt can be good for you, too.

What It Is: Salt room therapy, also known as halo therapy dates back to the 1800s when Polish doctor Felix Boczkowski noticed that people with pulmonary and respiratory ailments found relief by breathing in the air in Eastern European salt mines. Modern-day salt rooms typically recreate the atmosphere of the salt mines by using machines to pump dry salt aerosol into climate-controlled rooms.

How It Works: Salt has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that when the salt particles are breathed in, they can help absorb bacteria and clear mucus, easing respiratory problems like asthma, allergies, and bronchitis. The salt mist in the room is also charged with the same negative ions you find by the ocean, resulting in a state of calm similar to the one you feel when you breathe in salty air at the beach.

What It’s Not: An instant cure-all. If you’re suffering from asthma or severe allergies and you're expecting to walk out entirely better, this is not the therapy for you. It takes a series of sessions for salt room therapy to actually work, and depending on how your body reacts to it, the effects can be as subtle as clearer sinuses or a feeling of relaxation.


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