AUSTIN, Texas — Halotherapy, or salt therapy, is a holistic treatment first discovered in Poland in the 1800s and you can try it out closer to home at the Austin Salt Cave.
Owners Kyle Nigro and Illeen McCutcheon said halotherapy can help people with respiratory issues and skin problems, like psoriasis and eczema. But what it's really great for right now is fighting seasonal allergies.
"With the air that we're breathing in, especially in Central Texas, that means a lot of pollen, cedar, ragweed, all of that. Salt is naturally heat and moisture sink, but it's also anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, which means if salt comes in contact with bacteria, with microbes, it dehydrates them by pulling the moisture out of them. Without their moisture, they can't survive. And so when you're breathing that in, which is what halotherapy is, you are letting the salt into your lungs and your nasal passages, your sinuses, to do its work," Nigro said.
Nigro and McCutcheon suggest that people with seasonal allergies visit the Austin Salt Cave two or three times a week for best results.
According to Nigro, "It helps destroy all of that mucus buildup, which is essentially what the allergies are right it's all of that sinus pressure in here in your neck area. Sometimes it gets in your chest. And so what the salt does is it helps get all of that mucus out quicker than you would yourself."
The Austin Salt Cave is a warm, relaxing and inviting room. Inside, the lights are dim, there's peaceful music playing and you feel like you're in a cave.
"This room is 700, square feet, it is comprised of 11 tons of salt. It's all Pakistani pink Himalayan salt. You see it on the walls, you see it on the floor, or you see the rocks at the base, you see the lamps and while it does have a natural health impact, it doesn't do most of the work. Most of the work is done by a small machine that's actually out in the lobby that feeds in through the wall. That machine takes pharmaceutical-grade sodium ground into an aerosol and then dusts it into the room. So people are actually breathing in actual salts, not just being in proximity to salts," Nigro explained.
The pair keep things COVID-19 safe by keeping sessions private and cleaning between each use.
McCutcheon said, "It's a great way to have the healing aspect, and something to do during COVID that you're able to reflect on yourself, you're able to heal. Everyone has gone through so many stresses right just internally and that negative energy can affect your well-being and so this is a really nice place to kind of getaway and to be able to actually reflect in a safe, clean environment."
Some of the other touted benefits of salt therapy are decreased stress and headaches, increased energy and better sleep. Nigro believes it's a holistic approach to healing that's going to continue catching on here in the states.
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