Salt Therapy and Salt Mine Tourism
Salt cave therapy or speleotherapy involves spending some time in subterranean salt or limestone cave where the combination of minerals and electronegative charge relieve people of their chronic and allergic respiratory conditions. There are man-made caves too which replicate the conditions in the natural caves.
- How Speleotherapy Was Born
- What is Salt Mine Therapy?
- How does Salt Mine Therapy Work?
- Fabricated Salt Caves
- Some Well Known Salt Mines Around The World
How Speleotherapy Was Born
A sea-side holiday watching the waves lashing at the shore is a perfect antidote to the symptoms of respiratory ailments. This folk remedy attracted the attention of researchers when it was found that many asthmatics who took shelter in salt mines during the Second World War experienced relief. In 1843, Dr. F. Bochkowsky — a physician at the Polish salt mine at Wieliczka in Poland — noticed that salt miners rarely suffered from tuberculosis or respiratory diseases.
During Second World War, Germany physician Dr. Karl Hermann Spannagel noticed improvement in the health of his patients after they hid in the Kluterthöhle karst cave to escape heavy bombing. Clinical studies following this anecdotal evidence found that inhalation of salt infused air is highly successful in treating a range of allergies and disorders of the respiratory system.
Thus was born the practice of Speleotherapy (from Greek; speleos means cave) and Halotherapy (from Greek; halos means salt) grew throughout Eastern and Central Europe, Balkans and Turkey as an alternative treatment for asthma, bronchitis, and other ailments.
It is only in the last 15–20 years that Westerners could take advantage of the salt mines in the previous communist block countries of Central/Eastern Europe, where most of the salt mines are located and where salt therapy was pioneered.
What is Salt Mine Therapy?
Salt cave therapy/speleotherapy involves spending an hour or more in an underground natural salt or karst (limestone) cave where the combination of minerals and electronegative charge help relieve chronic and allergic respiratory conditions. Many salt mines have natural deposits of mineral halite containing mineral salts such as calcium and magnesium, manganese and sulfates, derived from evaporated ancient lakes and seas.
The salt mine provides a microclimate characterized by dry salt aerosol and is unique to each mine, but all the salt mines provide air free from airborne pollutants such as pollens and is used for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and other respiratory problems.
Halotherapy is a therapy that uses fabricated caves with floors and walls lined with rocksalt, and aerosolizing them using special technology to create a climate mimicking natural salt caves.
Salt lamps are another method of ionizing rocksalt. A large crystal of natural salt is hollowed out and heated with a tea light or lightbulb. The crystals give off an attractive glow in various colours of pink, orange, red or purple. according to the minerals present.
How does Salt Mine Therapy Work?
The special characteristics of the micro-climate of a salt mine include stable air temperature, humidity and lack of airborn pollutants such as pollens, and is unique to each mine. Such air is typically rich in natural salt microns and ions.
Salts have the ability ('hygroscopic property') to attract water molecules from the surrounding environment through either absorption or adsorption helps them to maintain steady humidity. The humidity in the room must be between 40-70%. If the air is too dry or too humid the efficacy of the therapy declines, as the tiny salt particles cannot get into the smallest parts of the lungs (alveoli).
The salt walls help to maintain sterile conditions, and absorb noise to provide you with a quiet environment. The salt-permeated air of the mine dissolves phlegm in the bronchial tubes and kill micro-organisms that cause infections. The salty microclimate also stimulates the body’s natural cleansing mechanisms to further remove foreign bodies to relieve infection and soothe irritation.
Fabricated Salt Caves
Halotherapy uses technology to fabricate salt-coated walls and floor and an aero dispersed environment saturated with salt aerosol that mimick natural salt caves. Halotherapy is becoming increasingly popular in the United States and Europe, and you can find Halotherapy salt caves in Rutland, Vermont; Williamsburg, Virginia;, Illinois, Florida, and other locations in the United States, as well as in London and Lincolnshire, UK. Halotherapy is popular in Russia, where it has been recognized by the Russian Ministry of Public Health.
Some Well Known Salt Mines Around The World
Many of the salt mines exist in the previous communist block countries of Central/Eastern Europe, and it is only in the last 15–20 years that Westerners could take advantage of these.
The Wieliczka salt mine has many historic statues, mythical figures and a large chapel all carved out of rock salt that is naturally gray in various shades, so that the carvings resemble unpolished granite.
Salt mines that once served as an internment site for prisoners have now become a high-tech, luxurious treatment centre for those with respiratory ailments. The salt mines in the Ukraine and the Praid salt mines in Romania in particular have been transformed into modern clinical centres providing Speleotherapy treatment for over 10,000 people every year. Temperature in the mines all the year round is a steady 22˚c and visitors sleep on beds in alcoves carved out of the salt, breathing in the warm salty air to treat their breathing conditions.