By ELENA MENDOZA
SCOTTSDALE – Some allergy sufferers are beginning to turn to salt therapy to alleviate their symptoms instead of over-the-counter or prescription medicines.
The treatment, also known as halotherapy, is a form of alternative medicine that requires the patient to breathe in micro-sized salt particles dispersed through a halogenerator.
“You find yourself sitting for 45 minutes in this kind of cloud of salt and your only job is to breathe,” said Suzi Provenche, owner of Salties Mind and Body Spa.
“You can breathe better, you just feel healthier and stronger,” said Alice Gilbert, a frequent spa customer. “It’s so relaxing, you can go to sleep in here.”
In addition to the calm atmosphere, some people also enjoy the lack of allergic reactions that they can have with medications.
“I’ve lived in Arizona all of my life and I’ve tried everything… the pills and everything. They have some side effects that are tough,” said Cherie Cordova, another customer.
Provenche said the salt has natural anti-microbial properties that kill bacteria in the sinuses.
“It doesn’t change the mediators or the chemicals that we release in our body that cause the allergic symptoms, but it helps alleviate the symptoms that you develop,” said Dr. Michael Manning of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Associates.
Dr. Manning compared the effects of halotherapy to being by the beach.
“If you’ve ever been in the ocean, your nose kind of clears up and it runs,” said Dr. Manning. “Saline like that can help mobilize secretions, help them get it up and out so they’re not kind of drowning in that stuff.”
“What happens is the salt starts an anti-inflammatory process, it starts to break up the mucus,” Provenche said. “It’s not uncommon for them to immediately start coughing and coughing up mucus or needing to clear out their sinuses.”
According to Provenche, the holistic practice has roots from salt mines in eastern Europe.
However, it has only been in the last decade it has become more common in the U.S.
“I think it’s going to be one of the next big thing we’re going to here about,” said Provenche. “Just like we believe in oral hygiene, I think it’s going to be mainstream that we all want respiratory hygiene too.”
Salties Mind and Body Spa is one of two salt lounge businesses in the Phoenix metro area.