A centuries-old health practice reborn as a modern wellness technique has made its way to Florence, Kentucky. Sweet Serenity Massage and Salt Therapy, a local spa, opened the region’s first salt room this past summer. Salt rooms attempt to emulate the environment of naturally occuring salt caves by offering halotherapy, which means salt therapy. Halotherapy is an holistic method that involves breathing in salt air. Advocates say salt room sessions can help with everything from bronchitis to asthma to eczema. Molly and I visited Sweet Serenity early last week to give it a go. Here’s the low-down on our experience, and the major points you need to know.
This practice (sitting in a salt room) isn’t new
Salt rooms have been popular in Eastern Europe for more than a century. Years ago, starting in Poland, it was common practice for people with lung conditions to visit salt mines for their healing benefits. Apparently, ancient Greeks also used halotherapy for respiratory problems. (I’m guessing Gwyneth Paltrow has had one in her house for years.) At this time, there are an estimated 300 public salt rooms in the United States (up from 12 in 2012).
The salt room at Sweet Serenity is decorated to look like a salt cave (I’ve never been in a salt cave, but I’d assume this is what it would look like). The temperature is set to 68°F and the room is free of humidity. Lining the room are zero gravity chairs, and Himalayan salt lamps for feet warmers.
Sessions at Sweet Serenity last 45 minutes. You can do a session solo, or pre/post a massage. I advise wearing loose, comfortable clothes (yoga attire). No technology is allowed in the salt room. You walk in, choose a chair, and the staff at Sweet Serenity will bring you a blanket. Staff will then turn on a device called a halogenerator. The halogenerator grinds salt into microscopic particles and releases them into the air of the room. For the next 45 minutes you just lounge. Both Molly and I fell asleep.
Salt Room sessions may help with respiratory issues, and asthma:
Quantitative research on the benefits of salt rooms is still emerging. Anecdotally, people across the world share stories of increased respiratory health, decreased bronchitis symptoms, and asthma relief after salt room sessions. Basically, the inhaled salt particles absorb irritants, including allergens and toxins, from the respiratory system which may result in clearer airways. The owner of Serenity, Fran, decided to install a salt room after seeing the benefits experienced by her grandson who suffers from chronic lung disease.
The Salt Room may also help skin health and increase mood:
Other salt room reviews share stories of increased skin health after sessions. The salt particles are said to absorb bacteria and other impurities that are responsible for many skin conditions. Salt is also said to produce negative ions. This theoretically causes your body to release more serotonin, one of the chemicals behind feelings of happiness. It is possible (although there isn’t much research to support this at this point) that salt rooms can increase serotonin production and, thus, happiness levels.
The benefits are accumulative; consistency and frequency are key:
Fran explained to us that it is recommended for people with chronic issues, or a cold or acute illness, to visit the salt room up to 3 times a week, or every other day, to allow your body to rest between sessions. Each individual is different, so this is left up to your own judgment. Those who are looking to incorporate salt therapy into their regular wellness routine will probably benefit from just a weekly session.
Molly and I left the salt room feeling relaxed after our cat naps, and ready to go. We’re definitely tucking this away for the next time we have a cold or a respiratory issue. Your first salt room experience is just $20. Have you tried a salt room, or want to try a salt room? Let us know in the comments below!