Salt Therapy – From History To Modern Approaches
History of modern salt therapy
Salt therapy originated in Eastern and Central Europe during the mid-19th century. Dr. Felix Boczkowski, a Polish health official, observed that salt mine workers seldom contracted lung diseases. Hence, the discovery that salt microparticles have a beneficial effect on the respiratory system was made! Since, hundreds of feet below the surface, numerous salt sanatoriums have been created in the Carpathian mountains. These facilities cater specifically to individuals with asthma, lung diseases, and allergies. The treatment, known as Speleotherapy, involves inhaling fine rock salt particles and negative ions of sodium chloride. Many European countries acknowledge Speleotherapy as an effective complementary treatment for chronic pulmonary diseases, with the Health Ministry covering its costs. During a typical treatment, patients spend up to 8 hours daily inside a salt cave, breathing in the fine salt particles and negative ions.
A complete treatment entails at least 4 hours per day over 10-12 days, repeated 2 or 3 times a year. However, Speleotherapy places significant demands on patients’ time and finances due to inconveniently located salt mines, travel, and accommodation expenses.
Respiratory diseases worldwide – Statistics:
Increasing pollution and decline in air quality directly correlates with a rise in respiratory disorders, particularly among children. Chronic respiratory conditions like Asthma, COPD, and Allergic Rhinitis have become significant global health burdens. The World Health Organization reports that asthma affects nearly 300 million people worldwide, making it a critical public health issue. Additionally, within the scope of COPD, which encompasses various chronic lung diseases, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema, there are over 212 million sufferers globally. According to the World Health Organization, COPD is the third leading cause of death worldwide.
Salt Therapy – Modern Approaches
Statistics clearly indicate a pressing need for more effective and convenient methods of salt therapy. One approach, developed in Russia during the 1980s, is Halotherapy. In areas lacking salt mines, specially constructed salt rooms or halo chambers simulate the mine environment. Patients relax individually or in small groups within these rooms, lined with salt and infused with fine salt particles. Each session lasts approximately one hour. To achieve lasting results, individuals typically require 12-14 consecutive sessions, 3 or 4 times annually, at an average cost of $30 per session. However, artificial salt rooms remain inaccessible and costly for most people, highlighting the demand for more readily available options. In 2002, a portable hand-held device called a salt inhaler or salt pipe was invented and globally marketed. These devices contain natural rock salt and deliver salt aerosol when breathed in through the mouth and exhaled through the nose.
Since, numerous models of salt pipes and inhalers have emerged worldwide. These hand-held devices provide short-term exposure and are recommended for mild respiratory conditions or as complements to longer exposure devices or salt rooms. In 2008, Canada’s Halosense Inc. developed the ultrasonic salinizer Saltair as an in-home salt therapy device, aiming to offer convenience, affordability, and effectiveness. The Saltair device utilizes saline solution made from natural rock salt to replicate seashore or speleotherapy aerosol within the comfort of one’s home. It releases salt aerosol particles, mostly under 1 micron, into the indoor air for 7-8 hours of daily exposure, which is crucial for chronic respiratory diseases. Longer exposure yields better results, so using the device during the day and considering complementary salt therapy products is highly recommended.
A word about SALT
Salt, scientifically known as sodium chloride (NaCl), is an essential compound. It contributes to the salinity of the ocean and exists in vital bodily fluids like blood, sweat, and tears. Our health relies on salt, as we currently have approximately 250 grams of it in our bodies, equivalent to about a cupful, working tirelessly to sustain our lives. Insufficient salt intake can lead to muscle weakness, impaired blood circulation, digestive issues, and an irregular heartbeat. The two components of salt, sodium, and chlorine, fulfill critical roles in our bodies, including maintaining fluid balance for the transport of oxygen and nutrients. Moreover, salt possesses valuable properties such as being a bactericide, anti-inflammatory agent, mucolytic substance, and hydrophilic agent. Within our respiratory system, salt aids in combating bacteria, reducing inflammation, breaking down mucus, and moisturizing the respiratory mucosa.
Long term exposure using home salt therapy devices:
– Improves the patient’s quality of life, by aiding breathing and diminishing the rate of annual hospitalizations and symptomatic medication
– Has no risk, is affordable and adapted to the living space
– Improvement in quality of sleep
– Nasal obstruction and sneezing noticeably decrease
– Sinusitis headaches improve
– Easier elimination of sputum
– Less colds / flu or much easily overcome
– Desensitization of the respiratory mucosa to specific allergens and triggers (at least 2 years salt therapy exposure)
PubMed.gov – U.S. National Library of Medicine published many clinical studies for salt therapy / halotherapy / speleotherapy, from the National Institutes of Health and in Speleotherapy International Symposium.
What do these clinical studies state?
• Halotherapy resulted in improvements of clinical state in most of the patients with various types of respiratory diseases. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10161255)
• Halotherapy is effective in the treatment of acute purulent maxillary sinusitis without puncture. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13677023)
• The addition of halotherapy promoted correction of the disorders and improvement of chronic bronchitis course. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11210350)
• Halotherapy has proven to be a highly effective method in patients with chronic bronchitis – promotes more rapid liquidation of clinical manifestations of disease, improves indices of vent function of lungs, increases tolerance to physical load… (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10439712)
• Halotherapy is recommended for use in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases with hypertension or coronary heart disease. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9424823)
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