Himalayan Salt Caves are touted for their natural healing powers from everything range from eczema to asthma with no side effects. So what are they and do they work?
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It was a busy weekend here and it kicked off with a quiet gong . . . Saturday morning my mom and I got out of the house early to head to a local spa to try out a new treatment. This wasn’t your average facial or massage, rather it was 45 minutes of relaxation in a. . . cave?
We booked in for Himalayan Salt Cave experience. My mom had heard a lot about it and had been wanting to try it out for a long time. Me, I had no idea what to expect!
Himalayan Salt Caves are a relatively new fad in the U.S. but they actually date back hundreds of years to Eastern Europe. It is mainly used as a holistic method for treating respiratory ailments. It is said to help with:
The salt itself has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
How you ask? Sodium chloride is already an integral part of our body’s physiology. Saline in the lungs helps eliminate toxins we breathe in and excrete these impurities through ion exchange. Himalayan salt emits negative ions, which are said to help increase oxygen flow to the brain. These ions are absorbed by the body when you inhale them. They are important for fluid exchange and balance in muscles and nerves. Also, breathing in salty air helps decrease thickness of mucus.
The salt’s anti-inflammatory properties can also help with skin conditions. Epsom salts are added to baths for similar reasons. The magnesium in the salt can be therapeutic for skin conditions.
We arrived at the spa wearing some yoga clothes and white socks, which we were told were necessary. We had the option to rent noise canceling headphones if we wanted but since we were the only two booked for this session, we opted to just go in without them.
We were then lead to the “cave”, which was really just a large room in the spa. We weren’t allowed to bring in our phones because we were told they didn’t know what the impact of the salt would be on the phones. I suspected they just didn’t want people to have their smartphones in the room with them, which negated my idea of listening to one of my meditation apps during the session (two birds with one stone kind of thing).
The spa attendant then opened the door to the cave and we were transformed into this totally different world. The walls were made entirely of Himalayan salt blocks, which has a pink hue to it (and totally feeds my current rose gold/blush obsession). The floor was covered in crushed Himalayan salt and there was a “fireplace” at the end of the room constructed out of the salt blocks and Himalaya slat lamps to let out a glow. We were surrounded by literally tons of salt in this cave.
We were given warm and fluffy blankets (which were washed after our use!) and shown to the zero gravity chairs. I’ve never used a zero gravity chair before but they basically look like big lawn chairs with a little pillow attached. They recline back so that your feet are elevated and your head is lowered. The idea is that when you recline you feel weightless (zero gravity) and it takes pressure off your spine, relieving back pain. I don’t suffer from back pain (thanks pilates!) so I can’t say if it does or does not help in that regard, but it was a super comfy chair!
My mom and I reclined back and put the blankets over ourselves. The ceiling was made to look as though it were a cave and there was a big black spot with twinkling lights to give a starry sky effect. A prerecorded voice came onto the speaker and explained the process of the salt cave and the health benefits. After her speech, spa music began and we settled in to relax.
I was nervous because I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to just sit there and do nothing for 45 minutes without any meditation guidance or anything to do. I’m a doer if you can’t tell!
But to be honest, I started getting into the groove of it. The music and atmosphere were incredibly relaxing. I was staring at the twinkling “stars” and it kind of put me into a bit of a trance. I also closed my eyes for a bit and although I definitely couldn’t focus on meditating, I just allowed my thoughts to drift. My mom said she looked over at one point and I was reclined with my eyes closed smiling and I looked so peaceful!
During the session the the vents came on to help infuse the air with the salt to reap the greatest benefit (or so we were told). The temperature was also controlled to help maximize the impact of the salts. It was a bit chilly so I was happy for the fuzzy blanket but I wish I had worn thicker socks because my feet were quite cold!
After about 30 minutes, I sort of came out of my trance and opened my eyes and my mom and I chatted for the last 15 or so minutes. It probably would have annoyed anyone else who was in there but since it was just us, it was no problem!
The result of the session? It was incredibly relaxing and if this appointment were in the afternoon I definitely would have fallen asleep. It was so nice to take some time and just chill since I never do that with a small child and never-ending to do list. For this reason alone, heading to a salt cave is a great idea (also for someone who moves all the time, it was nice to just enjoy stillness).
As for my skin or respiratory system, I can’t say I noticed any increased benefits but I wasn’t suffering from anything in particular at the time. I felt an overall general sense of wellness after the session and perhaps it would have helped with my spring allergies or a cold or an eczema breakout. It would be interesting to try again when I am suffering from one of these conditions.
On the overall, you probably have to attend regularly to get the health benefits but at $45 per session it isn’t a terrible set back (discounts for packaged sessions). If the time and money commitment is too much for you, I recommend a saline nasal spray. I use this all the time in the dry winter to help keep my nasal passage from drying out and becoming uncomfortable and to help ward off respiratory illnesses!
Or you could create your own little cave at home with a Himalayan Salt Lamp. These lamps do give off some negative ions (although not a ton) and can help improve air quality by attracting and removing moist air that carries mold, bacteria and allergens. The soft light can also be soothing and relaxing (especially before bed!).
Bottom line: A really fun and relaxing experience! I recommend trying it if you have the chance and maybe tacking it onto a regular salon or spa experience to get the benefits. Regular use is probably necessary to reap the real health benefits but just taking time to unwind and relax is beneficial to everyone!
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