Who does not know salt? It is widely spread all over the world and its use is versatile: food, medicines, production, health, wellness. When it was observed, that miners working in salt mines have no or negligible problems with the respiratory system compared to miners from other mines, more detailed research has begun. The first therapies were conducted in salt caves and mines. Quite briefly; the first rudiments of halotherapy began to develop when the idea of artificially created speleotherapy conditions above ground was born. In 1984 the word Halotherapy and the principle of operation of salt rooms was realized (The XIVth International symposium of speleotherapy, Romania 2012,Pavel Gorbenko, National Institute of Health, Saint – Petersburg, Russia).
Problems with term “salt therapy” and “halotherapy”
Over the years, we have come across various products and services that use salt in their work and are advertised as halotherapy or salt therapy with dry salt aerosol. The reason lies in the interpretation of the word salt in Greek, as the word “halo” means salt in Greek. So, the word halotherapy is used at the slightest use of salt, which is actually not right. Also, many people misuse this word for marketing purposes because they want a better marketing result or because they want to achieve greater readability or likeability on social and other media.
In the continuation of this article, the word salt therapy is used, which refers to the therapy with pure aerosol salt, generated by means of a halogenerator device.
Speleotherapy and halotherapy (salt therapy)
Speleotherapy is recognized as an effective, underground climatotherapy for certain types of chronic pulmonary diseases. It is usually performed within a hospital or in salt mines and other climatic caves.
The difference between speleotherapy and halotherapy:
POSSIBILITY OF REGULATING TEMPERATURE, AEROSOL, HUMIDITY
Up to 1 hour
QUAUNTITY OF AEROSOL
Smaller proportion of salt aerosol (except in salt mines)
100% dry aerosol of pure salt, without additives
As you can see, it really takes longer treatments to benefit from speleotherapy and parameters of temperature, aerosol and humidity is hard to control.
Halotherapy is a word that describes a specific procedure, is performed with a specific device named halogenerator, and has specific requirements for a dry salt aerosol, humidity and temperature. It is usually carried out in a room covered in salt plaster, and there is a thicker layer of salt on the floor. Very clean salt, without additives is put in halogenerator. Halogenerator produces dry aerosol of salt which particles vary in size from 0,5-10 microns; actually 92% of aerosol produced during halotherapy (salt therapy) is in size fom 0,5-5 microns. The dry salt aerosol is so tiny that it reaches the deepest corners of the respiratory tract. It is produced with the device halogenerator which pushes generated aerosol of dry salty aerosol into the room. Halogenerator can be mounted on the other side of salt room. The passage through the wall allows the aerosol to be blown into the room. Due to the mode of dispersion, the dry salt aerosol begins to float around the room. Also, there are portable halogenerators, which can perform halotherapy (salt therapy) during its presence in salt room or any kind of room.
Halogenerator usually has preset programs for various diseases and each program has a specified concentration of dry salt aerosol particles between 1 to 16mg/m3. During halotherapy (salt therapy) the environment is hypoallergenic and hypobacterial. This means that very clean air is created during halotherapy, free of allergens and other irritants. After halotherapy, the natural climate of the room is restored within 10-20 minutes. In February 2022, we conducted research in cooperation with Biotechnical Faculty of Ljubljana, that proves the purity of the air in salt rooms and is available here.
When you enter salt room you get comfortable and shortly after halotherapy (salt therapy) begins. When dry aerosol of salt enters the room, you inhale them and the magic begins. By breathing you intake the aerosol of dry salt. It is very relaxing and calm environment. Children usually have toys available.
In various studies, you can see that therapies were performed every day for at least 14 days. In reality, they are visited at least 3 times a week. The pace of life often makes it impossible to attend halotherapy every day, which does not mean that the reduced number of visits has no effect. Some salt rooms offer you their own bathrobes, others recommend their own cotton clothes or clothes that “breathe”. Salt rooms are not entered in shoes but in clean socks. After halotherapy (salt therapy) it is necessary to increase fluid intake in the body.
During halotherapy (salt therapy) your mouth should be empty, that is, there should be no chewing gum, pacifier, no food. Drinking is not recommended during therapy because you are rinsing the aerosol in your mouth and throat. You can sleep, read, meditate.
What is good to know?
It may be a misconception that an hour of halotherapy has the same effect as if you had spent 3 days by the sea. During halotherapy, certain mechanisms are triggered in the body that cannot be achieved in a way or triggered to such an extent as by the sea.
Dry aerosol of salt reduces inflammation, if there is mucus in your respiratory system it starts to thin and liquefy, so it is necessary to drink a lot of water to expel it in the form of cough or discharge from the nose.
Dark brown nasal secretions are characteristic of heavy smokers or very dusty working environment. Brown secretion or red secretion tells us, that there are particles of clotted blood in it. That occurs when small veins in the nose burst due to blowing mucus.
The transparent color of secretions is most common one. If we consume a lot of dairy products, it can be consequently whiter.
Yellow secretion means that there are viruses in the body and is an indication that the body is fighting and has activated the immune system.
Green secretion means that there is inflammation in the body. This is because of the dead white blood cells that are activated when it is need to fight bacteria.
Because during halotherapy (salt therapy) the denser atmosphere occurs, the more your lungs “work out”. Nothing strenuous, you do not even notice it, but it can increase lung capacity. For athletes this means better lung capacity, better performance and better results.
Dry aerosol of salt has also impact on your body’s natural cilia movement. Cilia move microbes and debris up and out of the airways, the goblet cells on them secrete mucus for protecting lining of the bronchus and trap microorganisms. Dry aerosol of salt works like gentle brush and cleans pathogens, debris, mucus.
Halotherapy (salt therapy with dry salt aerosol) activates alveolar macrophages, has bactericidal effect, improves cellular and humoral immunity (Chervinskaya A.V. Halotherapy of Respiratory Diseases // Physiotherapy, balnerlogy and rehabilitation, 2003, N6. – P.8-15 (Rus)).
In skin problems dry aerosol of salt reduces inflammation, encourages natural exfoliation and regeneration. It busts microcirculation of the skin. Dry salt aerosol regulates the pH level of skin, promotes good skin bacteria, absorbs impurities.
Also, during salt therapy with dry aerosol of salt (halotherapy) a lymphodrainage influence occurs, concurrent detoxification in provided and a result is a general improvement of health and sensitization reduction.
When respiratory system is cleaned the result is higher oxygen intake, improved immune system and increased energy.
Dry aerosol of salt has a considerable level of negative charge of particles and because inner surfaces of airways have a slight positive charge, aerosol of salt moves in the lumen of the respiratory tract and settle more intensively. In addition, the negative charge increases aerosol stability.
Halotherapy (salt therapy with dry salt aerosol) can really help with:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Hay fever
Contraindications – in which health problems, halotherapy (salt therapy) is not advised – are * severe hypertension (high blood pressure) * bleeding * acute blood diseases * acute phase of respiratory diseases * severe chronic respiratory failure * active tuberculosis * mental illness and any use of illicit substances * cancer * poisoning * metabolic diseases * pregnancy * failure organs (especially liver and heart) * spitting blood * heart failure * chronic obstructive pulmonary disease * pregnancy.
It can happen that while visiting halotherapy (salt therapy with dry aerosol of salt) a slight skin irritation appears, but disappear after 3-5 sessions; in case of tickling in throat you can gargle warm water, if conjunctivitis occurs instill eye drops to stop inflammatory process.
Comparative study between halotherapy and inhalation of hypertonic solution in 1 minute (Chervinskaya AV, Zilber NA. Halotherapy for treatment of respiratory diseases. J Aerosol
Med 1995 Fall;8(3):221-232):
- when inhaling 2% hypertonic inhaler solution with a strength of 1mL / min, 20 mg of hydrochloride enters the respiratory tract (measured as dry matter), with 5% solution the value reaches 50 mg
- Halotherapy at an aerosol concentration of 5 mg / m3 only 0.05 – 0.10 mg of dry aerosol enters the respiratory tract.
If sodium chloride aerosol in administered in low concentration, it does not affect the airway mucosa, so no side effects occur. Dry aerosol of salt enables the establishment of a appropriate humidity in the environment thus the adverse reactions of the airways, associated with humidification are avoided.
When moist aerosols are used a mucus edema and bronchial spasm are common reactions. The use of dry salt aerosol allows the optimal humidity parameters.
So, the answer to a question is yes, it is safe for majority of visitors. Is this a method for you? Give halotherapy a chance and give it a try. Each organism is a story in itself, and if a method helps someone, it doesn’t have to help you.
Frequently asked questions
What is salt therapy?
Salt therapy or halotherapy is therapy involving salt particles that are inhaled or absorbed through the skin to alleviate a number of symptoms. Salt therapy was discovered after miners in salt mines were found to be in great health despite working in mines which are known to be detrimental for the health of the workers. After further analyses, it was discovered that the workers benefited from inhaling and absorbing microscopic salt particles. After that, salt therapy was first conducted in parts of the mines, known as salt caves, then it was slowly introduced to the surface in the form of salt rooms. Lately, technological advances have introduced halogeneraters, convenient and extremely efficient devices that aerosolize salt particles for easier absorption and convenience.
What are the benefits of salt therapy?
Salt therapy is known to alleviate a number of symptoms related to skin and respiratory conditions, as it reduces inflammatory responses in the body, thins out the excessive mucus lining in your lungs, increases your lung capacity, increases skin regeneration and encourages natural exfoliation. It is also known to help improve the immune system, thus playing a role in improving our general health.
What is the difference between speleotherapy and halotherapy?
Speleotherapy or salt caves/salt rooms are found underground in areas with high levels of salt in the rocky deposits. Due to its natural occurrences, the atmosphere inside (air humidity, quantity of aerosol, temperature) is extremely difficult or even impossible to regulate, due to which individual sessions and therapies generally take longer, with each session lasting a few hours on average. With halotherapy, artificial salt rooms can be created anywhere using a halogenerator, placed in an enclosed space. That way, you can create your own private salt room right in the comfort of your home with the added bonus of having the option to regulate the temperature, quantity of aerosol and air humidity exactly to your liking.