Fear of the unknown is a basic human reaction. It resides in our cellular memory, from all the times we needed it to survive. The coronavirus exemplifies an unexpected and unknowable mass event. We have no idea how our lives will ultimately be affected. And predictably, the Unknown has brought us all to fear.

How we express this fear is individual and can be affected by crowd mentality. What are we going to do with a year’s worth of toilet paper? Logically, we all know hoarding toilet paper is unnecessary, but it really became an expression of the impulse to tame our fear. A way of expressing:

“I will control something in this big gap of the unknown” and “I will supply myself with a fundamental need and that will tame the anxiety about the rest of what I have no control over.”  Did it work?  No. Because the real fear is “what’s going to happen?”

There’s another way to look at this huge bowl of Unknown. My studies in different modalities have brought forth another perspective on the Unknown. What if the Unknown is not an uncertainty but an open possibility?  What if instead of trying to fill the void we consider that positive possibilities still exist to be created?  If I fill the unknown with what I think should be in there, only having the information I now posses, I may be blocking a new and wonderful thing that is just waiting to bloom in my life. Something beyond my present ability to imagine.

This is scary and challenging. It means significant shifts in how we interact with others and ourselves. But this means growth! It’s Spring, a time when young plants fight their way out of the boundaries of soil and express their essence in form of flower and fruit, scent and color. It may seem effortless as it happens every year, but it takes a great deal of energy to transform.

Consider this: there is more than one side to any situation, and perhaps fear isn’t the only reaction. Be loving to yourself and others in this time of possibility, and be the best version of yourself that you can.

Salt is a mineral which has figured prominently in the economy, social fabric, and culinary practices of virtually every country and culture on the planet. As early as 6000 BC, salt was processed by boiling spring or sea water in Romania and China. In centuries past it was prized by Ancient Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, Egyptians and Native Americans. Simple salt has been a universally desired and highly valuable natural compound since its discovery.

Primarily composed of sodium chloride (NaCl), salt has both antimicrobial and preservative properties. One well-known example of this is the use of salt to preserve foods. Salt “curing” has ancient roots tracing back to Mesopotamia. The curing process relied on salt solids or salt and water solution (brine) to dehydrate foods. Not only did salt prevent spoilage, it was capable of inhibiting the growth of food-borne pathogens.

How Salt Can Kill Bacteria

Salt particles or brines can kill bacteria on contact through osmosis. When a higher concentration of salt exists outside a bacterial cell, water from inside the bacteria diffuses out. The bacteria become dehydrated, their infectious proteins are inactivated, and the cell walls collapse, leading to death of the bacteria. Therefore, a salty material or salty environment will be much less hospitable to most bacteria.

Is Salt Anti-Viral?

In 2019 a study on the use of salt water (hypertonic saline) for nasal irrigation and gargling during colds found that saline irrigation practices reduced the duration of colds and viral shedding, and resulted in decreased transmission of cold viruses to family members.

In 2017 a study was published detailing the antiviral effects of a specialized salt coating on protective masks. Hyo-Jick Choi of the University of Alberta tested a proprietary salt coating on masks intended to deter viral penetration and transmission in the context of 3 forms of influenza. His research team found that due to the hard and crystalline molecular structure of salt, virus structures were pierced upon contact. The viruses then absorbed the salt and were ultimately rendered inactive within 5 minutes. Choi’s salt-coated mask was recently in the news again; he believes the specialized salt coating would be equally effective against viruses including coronaviruses.

Salt Therapy as a Sanitary Self-Care Practice

Breathing dry salt aerosols helps one purge the lungs and sinuses of excess mucus, the role of which is to capture microbes and germs. Therefore, salt therapy will have the effect of cleansing the respiratory system. Salt is also hygroscopic, or moisture-seeking. Thus, salt aerosols attach to any moist airborne particles or droplets easily, dehydrating and deactivating them, so germs of any kind are not easily spread through salty air. Despite this, we encourage  guests to stay home at the start of and during a cold, as salt therapy at this time can exacerbate symptoms. Once the worst is over, however, salt therapy can be dramatically helpful. And made a regular practice, attending salt therapy helps to keep you well.

Ramalingam et al. Scientific Reports volume 9, Article number: 1015 (2019) A pilot, open labelled, randomised controlled trial of hypertonic saline nasal irrigation and gargling for the common cold.

Fu-Shi Quan, Ilaria Rubino, Su-Hwa Lee, Brendan Koch, Hyo-Jick Choi. Universal and reusable virus deactivation system for respiratory protectionScientific Reports, 2017; 7

Maybe you’ve wondered how salt therapy works to improve physical health. It’s one thing to walk out of a session feeling like you can breathe again, and another to understand the reasons why. It’s not your imagination! Dry salt inhalation works in specific ways to provide a therapeutic benefit, and this post will explain some of the obvious and not-so-obvious actions of salt therapy.

Once inhaled, dry salt aerosols are deposited onto the bronchial mucosa. There, the salt absorbs excess fluids from inflamed or infected bronchial tissue via osmosis. This reduces bronchial edema which is a common problem in respiratory disease, making it easier for the lungs to remain flexible and expand.

Inhaled salt aerosols are also mucolytic, helping to break down and thin mucus, making it easier to expel. Mucus is a natural protective secretion meant to trap pathogens, so when the mucus comes up, it brings out the germs, allergens, and particles you want to remove. Salt therapy therefore acts as a natural expectorant making it easier to clear the lungs.

Salt breathing therapy is anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory, with studies demonstrating a reduction in bronchial hyper-reactivity so problematic for people with asthma and COPD. Salt aerosols have an anti-inflammatory effect in both acute and chronic conditions.

Salt is a naturally antiseptic substance and has been used for centuries as a safe and effective food preservative. Salt kills many types of bacteria through osmosis, causing their cells to collapse. Salt has also been shown to deactivate the flu virus on surfaces. These sanitizing properties may support the internal lung environment in resisting and overcoming infections.

Because it makes it easier to breathe and obtain enough oxygen, salt therapy has a beneficial effect on the nervous system. This will generally restore the body’s ability to regulate itself in every way.

In summary, salt therapy is a natural non-pharmacological approach with no adverse side effects which can be used on its own or as an adjunct to medications in the management of lung diseases.

Orv Hetil. 2015 Oct 11;156(41):1643-52.Theoretical basis and clinical benefits of dry salt inhalation therapy [Article in Hungarian]

Endre L1.

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2017 May;52(5):580-587. Epub 2016 Oct 10. Halotherapy as asthma treatment in children: A randomized, controlled, prospective pilot study. Bar-Yoseph R1, Kugelman N2, Livnat G1,2, Gur M1, Hakim F1,2, Nir V1, Bentur L1,2.

Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 1997 Jul-Aug;(4):19-21.[The use of an artificial microclimate chamber in the treatment of patients with chronic obstructive lung diseases].[Article in Russian]  Chernenkov RAChernenkova EAZhukov GV.

Today’s modern salt therapy spas can trace their roots to the 19th –century salt mines of Poland and Russia. In the 1830’s, physician Dr. Felix Boczkowski treated Polish salt miners of the Wieliczka mine, and noted that they enjoyed much better respiratory health than their peers.

Dr. Boczkowski postulated that salt particles, called aerosols, were released into the air by salt mining activities (chiseling & grinding). He believed inhalation of the aerosols by the miners contributed to their improved lung function, and he pioneered the use of the salt mine for therapeutic purposes or salt “baths.”

During World War II, the Klutert salt caves of Germany were pressed into service as a bomb shelter. Dr. K.H. Spannahel observed that his patients who’d taken shelter in the Klutert mines  experienced resolution of respiratory problems. Spannahel went on to produce early studies of halotherapy. The salt aerosols suspended within the low humidity of the underground environment were found to contribute to lung hygiene and recovery from congesting illnesses.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, allergy treatments were formally conducted at the Wieliczka mine, then called the Kinga Allergy Treatment Center, and “speleo-hospitals” were established in Poland and Ukraine. Salt therapy thus became accepted as a routine treatment for respiratory problems in Eastern Europe.

In the 1980’s the first halotherapy machine to create salt aerosols was developed by the Odessa Science Research Institute of Ukraine. The device ground salt to a fine and dispersible particulate, helping to recreate the conditions of an underground salt mine within an enclosed space. With this, contemporary halotherapy was born, although it did not emerge beyond Russian borders until after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Today, salt therapy is commonplace across Europe, and is becoming more accepted as a complimentary health treatment in North America, one with an excellent risk-benefit profile.

Salt therapy delivers widespread physiological benefits with no harmful side effects. How? It’s cleansing actions lead to improvement of respiratory function, which will in turn increase blood oxygenation and allow deeper breathing which can signal the vagus nerve to help reduce stress. Reducing stress has systemic benefits that impact physical and mental health. As anyone with a chronic respiratory condition is aware, it’s stressful to be short of breath or unable to breathe normally through your nose. Salt therapy helps reduce these problems.

The tangible effects of salt therapy can be experienced within 1-3 sessions: clearer sinuses, improved breathing and sleep due to reduced congestion, increased endurance and athletic performance, and the sense of better overall well-being that comes from being able to freely breathe. Want to experience salt therapy, or upgrade your health? Call us today and we’ll help you make that move!