Halotherapy involves purposefully breathing in salty air. As you respirate salt particles, you might experience several beneficial effects. If you’ve been considering halotherapy or are looking for wellness alternatives, here’s everything you need to know about halotherapy benefits and side effects.
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Although halotherapy is only now getting a lot of scientific attention, it has been used historically in Eastern Europe, as salt caves are common there. It’s thought that halotherapy originally began in the 1800s when a Polish doctor found that salt mine workers had fewer respiratory issues compared to other types of miners. Today, modern devices are used to make halotherapy more accessible than ever.
Types of Halotherapy
There are two main types of halotherapy treatments: dry and wet.
Dry halotherapy is typically experienced in man-made salt caves that are stripped of humidity due to the ambient salt content. Temperatures are set to cool (about 68 Fahrenheit), and sessions run for between 30 and 45 minutes. Another type of dry halotherapy involves the use of devices called halogenerators, which grind salt into tiny particles and release them into the air to be inhaled. The tiny salt particles can also be absorbed by the skin, potentially providing additional health benefits.
Wet halotherapy methods mix salt and water. Technically, even gargling salt water to take care of throat mucus counts as a type of halotherapy. You can also take salt baths, which allows your skin to absorb certain mineral salt particles.
Benefits of Halotherapy
Research still needs to be done to prove the benefits of halotherapy. However, early studies are promising and indicate that halotherapy may provide some beneficial physiological effects as well as help to stave off some of the symptoms of certain chronic conditions. Here are some of the potential benefits of halotherapy:
Alleviate Asthma Symptoms
As recently as 2014, studies were performed on rats showing that salt therapy might assist with some of the symptoms of asthma. The exact reason for these results isn’t fully understood, but it may be that the salt particles can help to reduce inflammation or irritation and break up mucus in the lungs. It’s not yet proven whether these effects can also be seen in humans. More data and in-depth studies are required.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic condition affecting millions of Americans. There’s some evidence to suggest that halotherapy might assist with this condition’s symptoms as well. Individuals who participated in a 2007 study examining the results of halotherapy when used to treat COPD experienced a higher quality of life compared to those who did not receive salt therapy.
The jagged shapes of salt particles in halotherapy may help with sinus and lung decongestion. Mucus building up in the lungs can be quite dangerous for a variety of reasons, but breathing air with a higher-than-average salt content might help to alleviate this issue, whether it stems from a deeper chronic condition or from a common cold.
Many people find sea air to be calming and relaxing. Coastal air has noticeably higher salt content compared to air inland, so halotherapy may also be able to calm and relax individuals.
Potential Skin Benefits
While salt overall is dehydrating, certain pure mineral salts (not table salt) can actually moisturize the skin or support your skin’s water balance and barrier functionality. It does this by attracting moisture to the skin. Additionally, certain minerals are necessary for skin health and detoxification. In this way, halotherapy may be able to help with various skin conditions, including dryness, acne, and even eczema.
Are There Side Effects with Halotherapy?
While there’s some limited evidence that halotherapy might be beneficial for those suffering from asthma, it may also have the opposite effect by irritating or constricting airwaves in asthmatic people. Additionally, salty air in general can make anyone cough or wheeze more, as well as experience more general shortness of breath.
Furthermore, halotherapy is not a proven scientific therapy in any capacity. It’s only meant to be used in conjunction with other medical treatments or procedures.
However, there isn’t any evidence that halotherapy is particularly harmful or that you should expect any major secondary side effects, especially if you don’t have asthma or an underlying respiratory condition.
Is Halotherapy Right for You?
Ultimately, you should speak to your doctor before beginning halotherapy regularly, especially if you want to use it to treat one or more chronic conditions or alleviate certain symptoms. Your doctor will be able to tell you whether halotherapy is right for you or if the potential risks of certain side effects are too great to be worthwhile.
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