Halotherapy (Dry Salt Therapy): All You Need to Know for Your Health

Epsom salt for halotherapy at a salt spa

What is Halotherapy (Dry Salt Therapy)?

Dry salt therapy, or halotherapy, is a holistic, drug free, natural therapy using micro particles of salt to promote better breathing, healthier skin, sounder sleep, improved physical fitness, and overall wellness. Dry salt therapy also helps to alleviate symptoms of many respiratory and skin conditions.

There are three primary characteristics of pure sodium chloride, NaCl, known as salt:

  1. Salt is super absorbent (especially when it is completely dry)
  2. Salt is anti-bacterial
  3. Salt is anti-inflammatory

In halotherapy, clients simply relax and breathe in the cool, dry salt air created by our Halogenerator. The micron-size salt particles, as small as 5 microns, are able to reach into the lungs, sinuses, ear canals, and pores of the skin. There, they are absorbed and assist in removing bacteria, viruses, mold spores, pollen and inhaled pollutants from these sensitive areas. In the lungs, the salt helps to thin mucus. This, in turn, speeds up the rate of expelling mucus and the pollutants it contains from the lungs. The respiratory system and skin, both, benefit from the anti-inflamatory nature of salt, helping to heal the whole body.

Halotherapy is beneficial for people with allergies, asthma, COPD, irritated sinuses or lungs and skin issues like eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.  The halotherapy experience is also able to reduce stress and helps you sleep better. Athletes with sinus or lung issues may also notice a boost to endurance as the lungs become better able to oxygenate the lungs.

Click here to view pricing and availability of Halotherapy at Durham Salt Cave

What is the Importance of the Halogenerator?

The Halogenerator is a type of equipment that is used to provide safe and effective dry aerosol salt therapy and is an integral part of our salt cave. Dry, pharmaceutical-grade salt is placed into the halogenerator and then the pharmaceutical-grade salt is ground into micron-sized particles (a micron is a unit of measure in the metric system equal to 39 millionths of an inch). The Halogenerator then disperses the salt into the air creating a dry, aerosol salt environment. Your skin and lungs are then able to absorb the salt while you rest in the salt cave.

What kind of salt is used?

To protect everyone’s lungs, we use pharmaceutical-grade pure sodium chloride (99.96% NaCl, salt). Normal table salt has other contaminants in it that can harm the lungs. This is especially true for clients with compromised lungs, such as COPD, as their lungs can have difficulty clearing themselves, and we don’t want finely ground particles of contaminants to cause issues. So we only use the purest of salt.

Where does the salt come from?

The Himalayan Pink Salt that is used in our salt cave’s walls and for the salt stones is imported from the Punjab, Pakistan region of the Himalayan mountains. It is said to be leftover from the primordial sea, which left behind salt deposits as it evaporated. The salt we use in our halogenerator to put into the air for you to breathe is pure, pharmaceutical-grade salt (99.96% NaCl).

What Are the Medical Risks and Benefits?

Halotherapy is all-natural, making it safe for almost everyone. Salt therapy carries with it many health benefits, especially for people who have issues with their lungs, sinuses (e.g. allergies), or skin. Benefits can include better sleep, reduced anxiety, increased endurance, and better skin health. This is all due to salt being anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory.

In the lungs and sinuses, salt’s anti-inflammatory properties can help widen the airway and allow for deeper breathing as well as accelerate the transport of mucus from the lungs and sinuses. Salt also helps loosen mucus by drawing more water from the body into it, further helping the lungs and sinuses to expel tar, allergens, and other irritants. This, in turn, can lead to the sleep, endurance, and daily-living benefits associated with salt therapy.

On the skin, the tiny salt particles can help soothe irritated skin and protect from aging and infection.

 You can learn more from WebMD’s page on halotherapy.

You can also learn more at the World Halotherapy Association’s website.

How Safe is Salt Therapy?

Salt therapy is 100-percent natural, drug-free, and safe. It is often combined with other medical treatments and prescriptions (sometimes reducing the amount of medication prescribed in treatment), but it also acts as a stand-alone therapy for a variety of conditions. We only use pharmaceutical-grade salt that is pure sodium chloride (99.96% NaCl) to further help protect and heal your lungs.

What conditions benefit from dry salt aerosol/ Halotherapy?

The following illnesses and conditions are known to benefit from halotherapy.

• Allergies
• Anxiety
• Asthma
• Breathing difficulties
• Bronchitis
• Cold/Flu Prevention
• COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
• Cystic fibrosis
• Ear infections
• Eczema
• Hay fever
• Psoriasis
• Rhinitis
• Sinusitis/sinus inflammation
• Smoker’s cough (must have quit 3 weeks prior in order to avoid third hand smoke)
• Snoring / sleep apnea
• Stress and fatigue
• Wheezing

Are there any illnesses or conditions which may prevent me from utilizing a salt therapy session?

WebMD recommends you avoid halotherapy if you have:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Heart problems
  • Respiratory failure
  • Blood disorders like anemia, hemophilia, or clotting
  • Infectious diseases
  • Fever
  • Open wounds
  • Malignant diseases such as cancer
  • Claustrophobia

They recommend you talk to your doctor before trying halotherapy, especially if you have one of these conditions. Your doctor can help you decide if it’s a good option for you based on your medical history and condition.

We also recommend you avoid halotherapy if you have kidney disease. Halotherapy dehydrates the body, which can lead to problems for those with compromised kidneys.

Do you need to stop taking medications if receiving salt therapy?

No. You should continue your medications as directed by your doctor. Since salt therapy is all-natural, it does not have any interactive effects with medications. Often, individuals who undergo salt therapy will find that they are less dependent on certain medication and that their symptoms are less frequent and less severe. Let you physician know that you are using dry salt aerosol therapy so that he/she can monitor any changes needed with your medications.

What Conditions Should Not be Treated with Halotherapy?

Infections accompanied by fever, acute active tuberculosis, cardiac insufficiency, third stage of COPD, bleeding or spitting blood, alcohol or drug intoxication, unstable or uncontrolled hypertension, and acute stages of respiratory disease.

Are There Any Side Effects to Salt Therapy?

As the contaminants and excess mucus and fluid begin to clear in the lungs, some clients may experience increased coughing for a short time. This is actually a good thing and a desirable result from halotherapy since it means your lungs are cleaning themselves.

Skin exposure may sometimes leave a slight rash or light itch for 3-5 days. These minor irritations are the only known side effects of salt therapy.

Is Salt Therapy Safe for Children?

Yes, salt therapy is safe for children. There are no potential harmful effects. Salt Therapy is completely natural and, in fact, children often respond to it faster than adults. If you have questions regarding if salt therapy is safe for your child, we encourage you to consult with your child’s doctor.  If you would like to bring your children to the salt cave, our only request is that your child can respect the space and equipment inside.

Is There Research to Support Salt Therapy?

Salt therapy has been researched and written about extensively. Read WebMD’s page on halotherapy to see links to a number of clinical studies from medical researchers.

Is There an Age Limit?

There is no age limit for treatment at either end of the spectrum. Halotherapy is safe for all ages.

What is the History and Origins of Salt Therapy?

In the mid 1800’s, Polish physicians noticed that salt miners rarely suffered from respiratory diseases. During World War II, many asthma and allergy sufferers who hid out in the salt mines also emerged breathing more freely. From these observations, speleotherapy (salt cave therapy, “speleo” means cave) was founded. Today, the healthcare systems in many countries pay for people to spend several weeks per year in the salt mines in order to prevent, and heal respiratory and skin conditions. Athletes throughout the world incorporate salt therapy sessions in their training regimens and it increases oxygenation and endurance.

Halotherapy rooms built to recreate the salt cave environment are now found throughout the world today. These rooms often use special equipment called halogenerators grind and disperse salt aerosol into the air to best re-create the environment found in the Polish salt mines.

The History and Timeline of Salt Therapy

Salt therapy, in the form of “speleotherapy”, has been around for many centuries. In fact, this type of salt therapy can be traced back to the Grecian age, when Hippocrates recommended salt inhalation as an effective treatment for respiratory issues!

European monks also discovered a similar pattern, noticing that patients treated in salt caverns healed faster than those treated elsewhere.

Its Polish roots began in 1843, when Polish physician Felix Boczkowski studied the men working in salt mines at Wielickza. Boczkowski learned that these salt mine workers had fewer respiratory problems than others, tracing the phenomenon back to the inhalation of salt dust. Because of this, a halotherapy therapeutic spa was developed in Poland.

In Germany, during World War II, salt mines were a common area for bomb shelters, leading to disturbances in the mine that let salt dust out into the air. People taking cover in these mines found that their respiratory problems were greatly lessened as a result.

In the 1950s, salt therapy took a new turn. Eastern European physicians figured out how to simulate the natural conditions of salt caves, with help from engineers. This lead to modern-day salt therapy, as we know it now, with countless halotherapy treatment areas opening up across Europe and Scandanavia in the 1980s and 1990s. Many salt therapy rooms are in operation in European hospitals, letting patients access the great benefits of salt therapy in a healthcare setting.

Salt therapy is growing in popularity within North America, and people are discovering what an excellent treatment it can be for respiratory issues. If you have thought about salt therapy but wondered where this idea came from, now you know – it is something people have been using, to great effect, for centuries upon centuries.

History of speleotherapy (cave therapy)

In a classic form, speleotherapy was the use of underground mineral and hot springs, including underground balneo and hydrotherapy. Some of the earliest to practice salt-based remedies were the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates (460 BC) had documented benefits from salt-based therapies, including inhalation of steam from salt water. According to Hippocrates, the procedure was providing relief of respiratory symptoms.

There are claims of improvements in the breathing of miners in Roman times and medieval times. Speleotherapy hospitals existed in Italy in the 19th century. Since the middle of the 19th century, people have been using the air of salt caves for diseases treatment.

The history of modern speleotherapy (cave therapy) dates back to the 1950s. At this time, speleotherapeutic hospitals arose in several countries of Eastern and Central Europe. Unitil recently speleotherapy was not practiced in the United States or the UK.


Wikipedia: Speleotherapy

Wikipedia: Halotherapy

The OUSIA Salt Cave:

Come relax and receive the benefits of Halotherapy (Salt Therapy) at the Ousia Salt Cave. The floor and walls are crafted of pure, mineral-dense, pink Himalayan salt and backlit to create a soothing and beautiful experience. Himalayan salt has 84 traced minerals that are beneficial to our organic systems. The salt also emits negative ions which promote calm and relaxation, making this a great space to naturally revitalize your whole person well-being. In addition, the air is filled with finely ground and purified salt to help your lungs and skin heal.

You’re welcome to come solo for relaxation time, bring a loved, or come with a group.

Click here to learn more about the Durham Salt Cave and Salt Suite

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