Halotherapy: Is it worth it’s weight in salt?

There are halotherapy centers cropping up all over the US and EU. I had been asked about the effectiveness of these centers in casual conversation, had no idea what it was, and honestly never gave the topic a passing thought….until I passed one in a strip mall in Florida. The sign outside the center offered that it could fix just about every respiratory and skin ailment one could dream of having: asthma, headaches, allergies, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Flu, smokers cough, chronic bronchitis, psoriasis, eczema….and the list goes on! But does it work or is it just a trend?

What is halotherapy?

Halotherapy is a type of alternative therapy, in which you go into dry salt mines (or a replicated version of a dry salt mine from the EU) and breathe in the air around you which is a microclimate of a salt aerosol treatment. It is claimed that the created climate with the correct amount of humidity and salt in the air, can not only cleanse your respiratory tract but also your skin and help to basically detoxify you.

halotherapyDoes it work?

People with cystic fibrosis, who get significant build up of mucous in their lungs, do very well, when medically treated, with high salt concentration nebulizers. A nebulizer treatment is basically when you create an aerosol treatment out of oxygen flow and a treatment fluid of your choice, and for cystic fibrosis patients, some very strong studies have shown an improved lung function after these treatments….in hospitals.  Also, patients that are smokers, with smokers “coughs” have been found to have relief of their coughs, temporarily and a decrease in mucous production, with high salt aerosol treatments, in a hospital setting. Basically inhaling the high salt treatments, dries out your lungs and mucous production decreases.  It is probably a very similar experience to people who live in humid climates go to a desert or somewhere with minimal humidity; breathing feels SO much easier if you have a chronic lung disease (I have asthma and can speak from experience on this end!)

What’s the verdict?

Much like many new alternative treatments, halotherapy has not directly been studied, but because these treatments have been successful with certain subsets of patients, the assumption is that it will work on many more patients, diseases, disorders, etc. People who regularly go for halotherapy treatments seem to report feeling better and they obviously return for treatment.  And halotherapy centers like to point out that they are wellness centers aimed at helping people lead healthier lives, which I can totally be on board with, and if you are someone who has quit smoking but can’t get rid of that cough, or has some sort lung disease where you have an overproduction of mucous, it may be worth a shot.  That being said, you should see your HCP if you have symptoms (such as a chronic cough or mucous production that are not going away) because it may be something serious, but if you want to alleviate symptoms, at this point, I do not see it doing any harm….it just might not help you a whole lot and cost you a few $.  My biggest fear would be sick people coming into this humidified air to cure their bronchitis (or whatever issue they have) and spreading it to others, but you would have to check out the halotherapy center nearest you and see if you are solo in treatment or with others, and how they prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria in their microclimate.  Use your best judgement, and be sure to tell your HCP if you are using this alternative therapy….then maybe we can get some real research on it!

Yours in Good Health


Sodium: Is how much you ingest bad?

For years and years and years HCPs have been telling you to cut out sodium as much as you can from your diet, and I feel like it is everywhere that people know they shouldn’t eat too much sodium, but, why?  And some ways to make sure you aren’t being duped into eating more sodium than you have intended!

SaltmillWhy is too much sodium bad?

Sodium is necessary for your body to thrive because it helps with a lot of the body processes like muscle contraction and relaxation (like with one of the most important muscles: our hearts), so it helps with blood pressure and also functions in our brains. But too much sodium can lead to a body retaining too much water, increase our blood pressure (due to the extra fluid retention related to the sodium), but this puts you at a higher risk for heart attacks and strokes.  For something that is a pretty attainable, lowering your sodium intake, it’s a great way to he healthy and protect your heart.

Where is sodium lurking?

If you are healthy with no medical issues, you can take in up to 2300mg of sodium per day (that’s about a teaspoon of salt) but if you have chronic kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, or are over 50 years old, the suggested daily amount of sodium is 1500mg (which is not very much at all).  Sodium is in almost everything, and if it is pre-made or pre-packaged, the sodium content is usually unbelievably high!  So, if you are on (or should be on) a sodium restricted diet, there are some things you should skip or use sparingly:

– Pre-made foods from stores ( both fresh AND frozen, unless they are labelled as low sodium, but read the labels to be sure)

– Canned foods (even veggies/beans are loaded with sodium as a preservative; I have been buying dry beans and giving them a super soak, much healthier and no sodium added!)

– Condiments (including various spices!)

– Processed meats

– Fast foods

– Processed snack foods (potato chips, cheese curls, etc.)

– Cheeses

– Soups (even low sodium still has a lot of sodium, so I tend to make my own and not add any salt!)

And remember that fresh foods like fruits and veggies naturally have sodium in them, so even though you might think that you are not eating any extra sodium, you might be. Plus, always read the labels to be sure how much sodium is present in various foods! Many different beverages, including some bottled waters have sodium in them, so your best bet at sticking to a low sodium diet, is to reach for foods labelled as “low sodium”, reading package labels, shy away from beverages other than water, and don’t add any salt to your foods when you are cooking!  Plus, half the battle is being aware of how much sodium you should be taking in, and making an effort to stick to it.

And, if you do splurge, make sure to drink a lot of water, and get some exercise to help flush that extra sodium out of your system.

Yours in Good Health