As the term goes, salt therapy involves the use of salt for treatment of various ailments. The main approach behind this noninvasive therapy is the exposure to dry air diffused with microscopic salt particles. Also known as Speleotherapy and Halotherapy, it is claimed to benefit people who have recurrent episodes of allergies, sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory problems. In fact, the salt therapy is slowly becoming a preferred choice for asthma treatment in the United States.
Does Salt Therapy for Asthma Treatment Work?
Asthma being a chronic ailment, the afflicted people experience mild to severe discomfort symptoms now and then, especially after an exposure to triggering factors. Limiting exposure to the triggers is the best way to avoid exacerbation of symptoms, which is not so easy for the patients. At the time of attacks, inhalers and medications are recommended for managing the symptoms. But, as the underlying cause is not treated, patients become dependent on the medications. Extensive studies have been done to find the defective genes responsible for the onset of this respiratory disease and also, a reliable cure for it.
In comparison to the traditional therapeutic options, halotherapy is touted as a reliable, drug-free treatment for asthma and allergies. However, the effectiveness of salt therapy for respiratory problems, allergies, sinus infections, or other diseases is not documented medically. There are some reports about using hypertonic salt solution for promoting pulmonary function. It is also observed that people who work in salt mines do not develop asthma and other pulmonary diseases. Considering this, it is conceived that inhalation of salt air does help in preventing respiratory problems. Thus, the same is adopted in the halotherapy for treating asthma.
In an asthmatic patient, the breathing discomfort is resulted due to bronchoconstriction (contraction of the airway muscles), inflammation of the airway lining, and excess production of mucus. Salt therapy reduces these responses, thereby increasing the breathing efficiency of patients. During the salt therapy session, salt air enters the respiratory tract and penetrates deep into the airway lining. The dry salt particles (size ranging from 0.1 - 2.5 micrometer) are effective for killing bacteria, reducing inflammation, opening the airways, removing excess mucus, and getting rid of foreign particles. In short, halotherapy makes breathing easier and combats asthma attacks.
How to Follow Salt Therapy for Treating Asthma?
The objective of halotherapy method is to create climatic conditions similar to the inside of a salt cave. For this, enclosed rooms are designed in such a way that the walls and floors are coated with unrefined salt, collected from natural salt mines. Also, the pressure, temperature, and humidity of these salt rooms are kept under control to maintain a near stable environment. Lastly, the air inside them should be clean and free of pollutants to get prompt results.
While adopting the salt therapy to rule out asthma, the patient is expected to inhale dry, negatively ionized, minute halite (rock salt) particles for a specific period (1 hour per session). This can be achieved by sitting in the specially designed room that resembles a natural salt mine. Inside the room, a machine called halogenerator is used to grind halite and release minute particles out of it. While sodium chloride is the main ingredient used in this therapy, traces of manganese, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and other trace minerals may be present depending upon the salt source.
For getting the best results, the patient should attend repeated sessions of salt therapy, about 12 times or more. Besides the artificially designed salt mines, saltpipe inhaler, salinizer, and salt lamp are developed to give similar effects of halotherapy. Salt crystals packed in each of the medical tools are released in one way or the other, which the patients inhale for a stipulated time. With these choices, patients of asthma and other respiratory diseases can reap the benefits of halotherapy within the comfort zone of their homes, i.e., without entering a salt room. One word of caution is to follow the usage instructions of the tools and the suggested treatment time.
According to the proponents, chances of asthma attacks can be reduced greatly with the help of salt therapy. It is also suggested to be an effective treatment for cystic fibrosis, ear infections, and skin problems. Since this alternative form of treatment neither requires popping of pills nor participation in invasive procedures, the risks are minimal. Some of the reported side effects include rashes, skin irritation, aggravated cough, and throat irritation. To reduce adverse effects, it is always recommended to take approval from an experienced doctor before participating in any kind of halotherapy sessions.