Salt rooms: is this detox trend worth its salt?
Belinda Mountain heads to the Amani Spa in Cape Town for a spot of halotherapy, or more simply, salt therapy
It seems every second person is on some kind of detox these days. But if you’re already laying off the alcohol, trying to eat healthy and hitting the gym, there’s yet another way you can give your body a healthy boost: salt therapy.
Salt therapy is also known as halotherapy and is a natural and non-invasive treatment which uses the antibacterial properties of salt.
It’s said to boost the immune system, help you sleep better, speed up your metabolism, improve respiratory problems, give you smoother skin (and clear up conditions such as eczema), reduce inflammation caused by exercise and help reduce allergies such as hay fever.
So how did we discover the healing properties of salt?
In 1843, Polish doctor Felix Boczkowski studied men working in salt mines and saw that they had fewer respiratory problems than other people, tracing this back to them inhaling salt dust.
In Germany during World War II, salt mines were often used as bomb shelters, and people taking cover in these mines again reported improvements with any respiratory problems they had.
In the 1950s, Eastern European physicians figured out how to simulate the natural conditions of these salt caves, which led to halotherapy treatment centres opening up all across Europe and Scandanavia.
In fact, many salt therapy rooms now operate in European hospitals, so patients can access all the benefits in a healthcare setting.
So how does it work?
The special room is lined with salt wall tiles, which release micro-particles of salt and you simply enter the room and relax on comfortable loungers (which are more like beds).
I had a foot massage before my salt treatment and then, clad in soft gown and tucked in under a duvet, I fell fast asleep during my salt treatment, waking with a feeling of deep relaxation.
Sessions are 30 minutes each, but to achieve the full benefits, you need to book a course of consecutive treatments. Halotherapy is also recommended for children.
This article was originally published in the Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Property and Lifestyle guides. Visit Yourneighbourhood.co.za