Halotherapy is simply the inhalation of aerosolized dry salts…
…which is quickly becoming a very popular new therapy added to many spas.
These salt therapy lounges can be very beautiful, with gorgeous Himalayan salt wall features and flowing loose salt over the floors to give the appearance of a salt cave, while plain old sodium chloride crystals (table salt, basically) are aerosolized into the room’s air for inhalation.
These spas claim that halotherapy can improve respiratory allergies, fix chronic dermatologic skin issues like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, and even decrease the frequency of upper respiratory infections.
But is it safe? And is it worth the money?
I gave it a try and brought my phone along to film it for you.
In this super quick, 3 minute video I’ll share with you my experience and then below this video, I share what the medical research has to say about salt inhalation therapy as a medical treatment.
simply click here to watch!)
So after I came home from this trial of halotherapy, I did an exhaustive search of the medical literature for you, and here’s what I found:
- A full review of all of the medical literature up to and including 2013 showed that out of 151 published articles on halotherapy, there was only one that was double blind and placebo controlled.
- That study, published in 2013 in the International Journal of Pediatric Otohinolaryngology, showed a small reduction in the size of hypertrophic adenoid and tonsillar tissue of children with mild adenotonsillar hypertrophy (non-obstructive).
- Other studies, like this one published in 2013 in Tanaffos Journal, failed to show any change on pulmonary function tests after 2 months of halotherpay on non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectatic patients.
- No other study, up through 2013, showed any statistically significant therapeutic benefits to halotherapy at all.
I continued to review the medical literature past 2013, to see if any new studies have found halotherapy to be beneficial.
- I found one study, published in 2014 in the Journal of Medicine and Life, that failed to show statistically significant improvement in patients with chronic respiratory allergies and inflammatory lung conditions. What is notable to me in this study is the finding that out of the 15 patients studied, 7 of them developed an irritative cough from the treatment itself.
- Another study, published in 2016 in Meditsina Truda I Promyshlennaia Ekologiia, showed that mild to moderate cases of chronic obstructive lung disease was clinically improved in about one-third of cases.
- Another study, published in 2017 in Pediatric Pulmonology, showed that mildly asthmatic children had less bronchial hyper-responsiveness after 14 sessions (two a week for 7 weeks), but sadly lung function/spirometry tests did not show any statistical improvement at all.
I did not find any evidence in the medical literature that halotherapy is used in hospitals (despite this being stated as fact by the Salt Cave attendant) and while there were no studies showing positive results in double blind placebo based studies, there did not seem to be much harm in the therapy either, with the exception of a high rate of induced cough in the 2014 study.
So for patients wanting to relax, de-stress, or perhaps address allergies or skin issues, there doesn’t seem much of a down side, or risk, if you want to give it a go.
For example, if you have enlarged tonsils, I’d say this might be worth a trial run, as long as you are comfortable knowing it may take weeks of treatments before seeing a statistically significant result.
None of the studies reported any results after just a single treatment.
For patients with lung disease or asthma, however, I would steer clear of halotherapy, as a 50% rate of induced cough is not something I would want triggered in any of my asthma patients… or anyone with lung or breathing issues at all.
Don’t live near a salt cave and want to try this at home? Use a personal Himalayan Salt Inhaler.
An economical alternative to inhale microparticles of salts is a personal inhaler made from ceramic, used with Himalayan sea salts. Simply hold up to your mouth, breath in through the mouth and out through the nose for 10 minutes daily.
I have zero affiliation with any salt inhalers, I just want to provide you with as many ideas as possible. Be sure to consult your physician before use, as I would highly recommend they know you are starting salt inhalation and that they follow you with spirometry measurements to monitor any results.
Any studies on a personal salt inhaler?
This study looked at if using a personal salt inhaler could help adults with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and unfortunately, although the patients in the study reported feeling better and walking faster, on spirometer there was no statistical improvement to lung function and there were several reports of sore throat as a side effect.
Another alternative? Plug in a Himalayan Salt Lamp.
Although there are no medical studies directly proving a salt lamp is therapeutic, there are lots of general claims that a Himalayan salt lamp provides negative ions to the living space — and negative ion therapy actually has been studied and shown to slightly reduce depression symptoms, decrease headaches, and marginally help normalize circadian rhythms.
So theoretically there may be a slight health benefit to introducing a salt lamp into your home and it’s certainly much cheaper than repeated sessions of halotherapy at a therapy center
I hope you enjoyed that fun test run of a Salt Cave, and I am planning on trying Cryotherapy for you soon… as well as CBD therapy and Sauna therapy.
Any other alternative therapeutic treatments you’d like to see me try out for you, and do a medical literature review on? Shoot me an email at koniverMD@gmail.com and I’ll add it to my list of upcoming videos!