Let's face it... most of us hate the idea of putting medicine, a man-made chemical substance, into our bodies. Plus the fact that medicine costs money. And when you have a chronic illness like allergies and/or asthma, having to take medicine for the rest of your life can definitely be a burden, at least on some level.
But we also like to feel good and be able to carry on with our day to day lives, don't we? So not doing anything to manage our allergy symptoms isn't really the best option either. As a result, many people go in search of a more "natural" solution.
One of the so-called natural therapies becoming more and more popular for treating allergies, sinusitis, eczema, asthma and other respiratory infections and conditions is salt therapy. It's been used for decades in Europe, but has just caught on in the United States the last few years.
Types of Salt Therapy
Salt therapy began in Europe with salt caves, underground caverns with a high percentage of a particular kind of salt crystals, left behind as glaciers retreated centuries ago. Believers reported that spending two or three hours underground in these caverns each day produced relief of respiratory symptoms. In fact, this all started in the late 1800s when it was discovered that Siberian salt mine workers had a surprisingly small number of respiratory problems compared to their contemporaries.
Salt caves or simulated salt cave rooms are now found all over Europe and even in a few places in the U.S. This therapy is called speleotherapy or halotherapy, which means "dry salt aerosol inhalation therapy".
To duplicate that environment of dry salt inhalation, companies have created medical devices called salt pipe inhalers. These hand-held devices contain special dry salt crystals and have a mouthpiece you inhale through (exhaling through your nose). You can also buy salt crystal lamps that supposedly emit salt ions into the air in a room when turned on.
Other forms of salt therapy include salt solutions that you drink, made with special forms of salt crystals (not just everyday table salt) and saline nebulizers, where a saline solution is turned into a fine mist that you breathe in through a tube from an ultrasonic salinizer device.
All of these devices have their rabid supporters and wild claims of cures and symptom relief.
But Does Salt Therapy Really Work?
If you search the Web for testimonials about salt therapy, whether it's salt caves, salt pipes, salt solutions you drink, salt lamps or salt nebulizers, you are going to find hundreds, or even thousands, of stories from people who have thrown away their pill bottles, inhalers and had complete relief from all of their symptoms. It's really quite exciting to read.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has appeared on the Oprah TV show and now has his own popular TV show, is reported to have said the salt pipe is one of his most anticipated alternative treatments to try, but I couldn't find any endorsement or mention of it on his Web site, so I don't know how accurate that report is.