Salt for Your Health?
So by now you know that eating too much salt is bad for you, but how about breathing it? Earlier this week, Abby and I checked out one of the latest wellness venues to hit New York: the Halo/Air Salt Rooms. Apparently salt therapy (aka halotherapy) has been around for hundreds of years and is popular in parts of Eastern Europe. Overseas, people visit natural salt caves, where they'll relax, breathe in the crisp air, and reap health benefits. Here in New York we're a little short on natural salt caves, so Halo/Air provides a pretty cool man-made approximation of that environment.
At Halo/Air, you'll find yourself in a spa-like space. Fully clothed (or in a robe, if you prefer), you'll be led into a private chamber that contains a comfortable lounge chair, a flat-screen TV, and a whole lot of salt. The walls are made of salt, the floor is made of salt (it looks like sand), and every so often you'll see (and smell) a burst of ionized salt particles being added to the air. For the next 60 minutes you get to watch TV, read, or just take a nap while you soak up the salty air.
So what are the health benefits?
According to Halo/Air's medical director (an ear, nose and throat doctor), salt therapy is especially good for people with respiratory problems, including allergies, asthma, and even the common cold. It's also supposed to be helpful for skin ailments, like psoriasis. There haven't been any studies done in the U.S. to back up these claims, but there is some foreign data to suggest that repeated sessions (14 is the typical recommendation from Halo/Air) can help with breathing problems caused by smoking and chronic conditions (like COPD).
Abby and I found our session relaxing and refreshing. It was kind of like sitting by the ocean since you smelled and "tasted" the salty air, but of course instead of listening to waves crashing we were watching celeb gossip on cable TV. Whether or not we derived any specific health benefits is hard to say; due to our own time constraints we spent just 30 minutes in the room (instead of the standard 60 minute session), and the center staff told us you usually need to come at least 3-4 times to notice health improvements.
If you're in NY and want to give it a try, it'll cost you 0 per sesssion (but Halo/Air does offer some discount packages, so be sure to inquire).
Video: Heart Health Challenge: Mind Your Salt
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