Though it gets a bad rap sometimes for causing high blood pressure (but that wouldn’t be the case if it wasn’t so adept at transforming bland food into tasty), if you really think about it, salt is truly a ‘salt of the earth’ mineral.
When you have a sore throat, it’s suggested you gargle salt water. When you have a wound or sore muscles, you soak in Epsom salts. In the shower, salt scrubs work wonders for the body and mind. Saline sprays are quick to clear clogged nasal passages. And something about breathing in salty beach air just refreshes the spirit.
For centuries, Europeans have been trekking to salt caves as an alternative treatment for relieving symptoms of allergies, asthma, COPD and other respiratory conditions, as well as skin ailments such as eczema and psoriasis.
While a beach or salt cave isn’t readily available to Cobb residents, a halotherapy room is the best, or perhaps even better, substitute. Halotherapy, or salt therapy, is the process of breathing in dry, micronized salt particles in the form of salt air.
Marietta residents Linda Nordahl and Brad Menz opened Salt Therapy of Georgia earlier this year to provide residents with the same experience they had a year ago in Knoxville, Tenn. The couple visited a salt therapy center there at the suggestion of friends. Linda, who is slightly asthmatic, said within 20 minutes of being inside the salt room she could breathe better. After finding there were no halotherapy businesses in the Atlanta area, the two decided to open their own in Smyrna.
Before making the decision, Linda devoted hours to research.
“We wanted to make sure we were offering something that didn’t have any harmful side effects,” said Linda, who sings with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra Chorus.
Some clients may develop a slight cough, or a runny nose, but that’s part of the process of eliminating toxins. Some may experience mild skin irriation that will disappear after a few sessions. Otherwise, there are no side effects, said Linda.
In the therapy room, walls are covered with a half-inch of hand-thrown Dead Sea salt. The floor is lush with pebble-sized granules of Himalayan salt, and a hearth feature of salt bricks provides a warm and inviting centerpiece. The dimly lit room contains six comfy slingback chairs for clients to relax in. During a session, Dead Sea salt is pumped into the room. Himalayan salt can be used if requested.
How does it work?
“People go to salt caves and spend 8-hour days for three weeks for its healing properties,” said Brad. “We cut that down with the halogenerator.”
Halogenerators crush rock salt into .1 to .5 micrometers, ionize them, and release them into the air. The small particles are able to travel deep into the lungs, and spread through the respiratory system.
“Properties of salt are anti-inflammatory as well as anti-bacterial,” said Linda. “We aren’t here to replace your medications, but we are here to help you breathe and help your immune system. Salt therapy helps to expel mucus quicker. It detoxifies your lungs and sinus passages.”
Sandy Springs resident Sue Medcalf describes her experience with halotherapy as “phenomenal.”
“I could feel the difference the very first time I went,” she said. “It has been amazing the capacity my lungs can hold on a daily basis [since I began going]. I just got finished with a session a few hours ago and I’m driving to the mountains now and I can smell things I can’t normally smell and taste things I can’t normally taste. The ears, nose and throat are just remarkably more sensitive.”
Sue, a massage therapist, said she refers many of her clients who have allergies or asthma to Salt Therapy.
“I know from experience that people don’t take full, deep breaths and there is a portion of our lungs that we don’t utilize that continues to build toxins and stagnation. But if we continue to exercise our lungs we can expel those toxins. Living in Atlanta with all the pollution it seems to me logical people would want to do that regularly.”
How long does it take?
That depends of what you are seeking to treat, and how severe the symptoms. One client came in just as a migraine was forming. To combat the headaches, she usually has to take medicine and go to sleep. But halotherapy knocked out the migraine before it strengthened, said Brad.
Julie Neal of Marietta took her three daughters to the children’s room before a vacation to Disneyworld.
“The children always have colds around October so I didn’t want them to be sick,” said Julie. “One daughter always gets an awful sounding cough when she gets a cold. When she started getting a little sniffly I signed up for a session. When you have children it spreads around — when one gets sick, they all get sick. We went a few times before vacation and none of us got sick and [her sniffles] never turned into a cough. I was really impressed; that was the first time that has ever happened.”
The children’s room contains toys and the salt on the floor is table salt-sized granules. Children are allowed to play in it as they would sand on the beach. Julie said her daughter Sydney, 5, loved it.
“She asks me when we can go back. She told me she wanted a salt room in her house,” she said.
But for most, Linda recommends 6 to 24 initial sessions to help alleviate the problem, and after that return for maintenance.
“If you make a commitment of once a week, that may help you better than waiting until the symptoms come back,” advises Linda.
Even if you don’t have respiratory or skin problems, salt therapy is beneficial to everyone because of the relaxation element it provides, said Brad.
“Negative ions in the air feels better,” said Linda. “You go to the ocean and you feel that calm. There’s science behind it.”
Salt Therapy of Georgia
2424 Herodian Way SE, Smyrna