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Review: Halotherapy therapy and the new way to breathe freely and unwind

Ceiling view of a new salt cave experience in the UK. Image by Tim Sandle.
Ceiling view of a new salt cave experience in the UK. Image by Tim Sandle.

Halotherapy involves breathing in particles of salt that mix naturally with the air inside a salt cave, with the aim of providing benefits for those with breathing difficulties, certain skin conditions, of who simply wish to relax by undertaking a different sensory experience. There are different views on the ‘health’ benefits (the curative microclimate approach), although the American Lung Association notes some reported improvements in the health condition of patients.

Salt Cave Halotherapy is relatively new venture in a town located close to where Digital Journal’s UK-based reporter lives (Borehamwood in Hertfordshire, close to North London). At £15 ($20) for one hour of relaxation, it seemed a worthwhile venture to check out.

An inside view of the surrounding wall of Borehamwood’s Salt Cave (Image: Tim Sandle)

Instruction on using the salt cave are short but clear and there is a requirement to don plastic overshoes to keep the surface salt relatively clean (the act of walking still creates a satisfying ‘crunch’ sound when entering the cave).

Footsteps on the salt floor (Image: Tim Sandle)

On entering the reconstructed cave, each patron is led to a chair and shown how the controls work (reclining function, massage speed, heating and so on) and issues with two warm pillows containing aromatherapy salts (these had been pre-heated in an oven and come infused with different scents, such as lavender).

The salt is located on the ground and on the walls, and it is extracted from Eastern Europe’s rock salt mines. Sometimes termed halite, it is located within sedimentary rocks where it has formed from the evaporation of seawater or salty lake water. This includes black salt from Transylvanian‘s Salt Mines.

After making yourself comfortable and adjusting the seat the entry door is closed. The initial sensations are in relation to the music (ambient sounds designed to create a chill effect, similar to the type played by many measures) and the array of visual images shown on a screen. The alternating images range from forests to seas, sunset to sunrise.

After a while the atmosphere becomes apparent. There is something fresh about it and it comes and goes in bursts. Maybe ever so tingly? The varying levels are the product of a device called a halogenerator.

Digital Journal’s Tim Sandle in the Borehamwood Salt Cave. (Image: Tim Sandle)

The experience is sufficiently relaxing that this journalist soon dozed off within 15 minutes or so, rising from his slumber with 10 minutes of the session remaining.

Coming out of the salt cave, one feels relaxed and refreshed. This may relate to an hour of ‘me time’, uninterrupted by telephone calls or the day-to-day stresses of work of home. Perhaps the balance of salt ions helps too, contributing to the freshness and re-invigoration.

Strech out – how to relax in a salt cave (Image: TimSandle)

A salt cave is certainly a pleasant may to spend an hour, resting and reflecting and for a chance to see your troubles dissipate, it’s cheaper than seeing a therapist.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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