Halotherapy is an alternative treatment that involves breathing salty air. Some claim that it can treat respiratory conditions, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and allergies. Others suggest it can also:
- ease smoking-related symptoms, such as a cough, shortness of breath, and wheezing
- treat depression and anxiety
- cure some skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne
The origins of halotherapy date back to the medieval era. But researchers only recently started studying its potential benefits.
Halotherapy is usually broken down into dry and wet methods, depending on how the salt is administered.
The dry method of halotherapy is usually done in a man-made “salt cave” that’s free of humidity. The temperature is cool, set to 68°F (20°C) or lower. Sessions usually last for about 30 to 45 minutes.
A device called a halogenerator grinds salt into microscopic particles and releases them into the air of the room. Once inhaled, these salt particles are claimed to absorb irritants, including allergens and toxins, from the respiratory system. Advocates say this process breaks up mucus and reduces inflammation, resulting in clear airways.
The salt particles are said to have a similar effect on your skin by absorbing bacteria and other impurities 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. Many people use Himalayan salt lamps to get the benefits of negative ions at home. However, there’s no evidence that these lamps have any benefit other than adding ambience.
Halotherapy is also done using a mixture of salt and water. Wet methods of halotherapy include:
- gargling salt water
- drinking salt water
- bathing in salt water
- using salt water for nasal irrigation
- flotation tanks filled with salt water