Salt Therapy: Take It with a Grain of Salt
Recently, I’ve been hearing more and more about salt therapies, or halotherapy, and its supposed benefits. According to the .pdf I just linked to in my opening sentence, “Salt Therapy is the best known method to detox lungs and remove toxins naturally. It is a drug-free, non-invasive treatment, that alleviates any symptoms of various upper and lower respiratory ailments by drying up and disinfecting mucous membranes in the sinuses and lungs. Salt Therapy can help people with ailments including, but not limited to: allergies, sinus infections, frequent viral infections, coughing caused by smoking/emphysema, asthma, bronchitis,COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], chronic ear/nose/throat illnesses, cold/flu.”
But so far from the little bit of independent research I’ve done, Skeptoid, the Wall Street Journal, Time, and the LA Times all agree that salt therapy needs to be studied a hell of a lot more.
Don’t tell that to the salt cave/room businesses though; at $45 for 45 minutes (or get the unlimited package for $300 a MONTH), salt is worth its weight in gold.
One of the numerous salt therapy websites list in their FAQ’s section that “Salt therapy has been researched and studied in both Russia and Eastern Europe. Take a look at our Research page to view the clinical trials and studies done to support salt therapy.” For the average person that may be enough proof for them to believe in the miraculous benefits, but the keen observer realizes that there simply are no peer reviewed English-based studies that have been done to test the validity of the claims that the salt-pushers are bringing forth.
Most of the salt room websites spout similar health benefits, most having to do with respiratory issues, but some list skin conditions as well. In one article, doctors mentioned their concern for asthma sufferers who use the salt rooms, despite almost all the salt therapy websites going on about the relief for asthma sufferers, stating, “If somebody inhaled significant concentrations of a salt solution it could actually bring on an asthma attack.”
The problem I have with people utilizing salt therapy rooms as a treatment is that they may forgo their doctor and just try to cure their flu or bronchial inflammation with salt rooms. I had a serious lung infection caused by allergies a couple of years back and had to be put on antibiotics. I can’t imagine trying to treat my infection with salty air.
My best suggestion if you have asthma or some upper respiratory infection would be to see your doctor. With as much as these salt therapy places charge, it’ll probably be cheaper and the treatment will most likely work.
If you’re just tired and stressed out and are tempted to try to cure you problems for $1 a minute in a salt room, instead why not try:
I will end this post with what Brian Dunning closed his Salt Therapy Skeptoid episode with:
The red flags you should note are that there is no standard on what salt therapy is, how it works, or what it does; certainly no standards for how it should be administered. This is because it’s a made-up practice; it is not the result of testing or any kind of therapeutic development process. No studies confirming efficacy have been published, at least not in the West; and when we see a subject with no studies at all published (either positive or negative), the reason is usually because there is no coherent theory to test.