May 25, 2015

Salt Therapy, Though Lacking Scientific Support, Brings Comfort to Families

Reporting Texas

Summer is still far away, but little Jacob is building a sand castle. Except it’s not sand, it’s salt.

Jacob is the 6-year-old son of Sabrina Gibson, 29, and has suffered from respiratory problems most of his life. When the family moved recently to Austin from Brighton, Colo., Gibson noticed she was missing one comfort from home. A salt room. Jacob had benefited greatly from salt therapy, so she decided to create one of her own.

Gibson, a 2014 College America Denver nursing graduate, opened Breathe It In Salt Rooms in February hoping to bring the same relief to others.

Halotherapy, more commonly known as salt therapy, is believed to relieve symptoms of respiratory diseases such as asthma, cold, flu, ear infection and sinusitis. The therapy is gaining traction in large and small cities, with around 125 businesses in the U.S., according to the Salt Therapy Association.

Breath It In has two rooms that are filled with more than seven tons of several different types of salt covering walls from floor to ceiling. During a session, which lasts 45 minutes, microscopic salt is transmitted through the vents and breathed by customers. The rooms are fairly dark with a moody lighting and temperatures kept at about 75 degrees.

The rising popularity of the treatment triggered a recent review of 151 previous studies. The results, published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in February 2014, were inconclusive about the effectiveness of halotherapy for pulmonary diseases. “There is a need for high quality studies to determine the effectiveness of this therapy,” the study concluded.