By Astha Gupta
A drug-less treatment for allergy sufferers has got parents around the world booking in with their tiny tots but is this complementary therapy a con or condiment? We explore…
As parents all we want are healthy and happy kids, but when sickness arrives – always unannounced and unwelcomed – no one is a happy camper.
If you are anything like me, before looking through the medicine cabinet, you scour the internet for home remedies or drugless treatments.
On one such quest of mine – after my five-year-old was down with another frequent attack of cold and cough, and when gargles, inhaling hot vapours of Vicks and spoonfuls of ginger honey failed to work – I was at my wits end.
That’s when I came across salt therapy (also called halotherapy) at the Breathya centre available right at my door step in the East Coast.
Immediately, a light bulb went on in my brain because many years ago, while we lived in Australia, I had tried and tested salt therapy – this natural, non-invasive treatment for myself and it had done wonders for my itchy eyes and over-sensitive respiratory system. But somewhere after pregnancy, childbirth and moving continents, I had forgotten all about its healing anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties.
All we need to do is sit or sleep or play or watch tv in a room where floors are laden with salt and walls made up of salt blocks. Too simple to be true right, but it is.
While you are relaxing, a machine called halogenerator is supposed to do its magic on respiratory ailments and skin conditions; help ease jetlag and sleep or snoring issues while giving you an immunity booster shot. Aren’t you curious to know how?
The tiny fan-like machine is able to break down salt into miniscule particles, which by being in the room, you are able to inhale into your lungs without effort. So no deep breaths needed – just be natural. The salt, as believers vouch, opens up our airways, unplugs any mucus stuck to the lungs, and in general makes it easier to breathe easy by absorbing bacteria and fighting infection while the particles that land on the skin repair any damaged skin cells.
Even though it is a yet-to-be popular form of therapy in our part of the world (there is only one salt room in Singapore), it has gained many fans across Canada, Europe, America and Australia where several centres have opened their doors in the recent past, offering yoga, massages, and beauty treatments alongside the salt therapy.
Most of them owned by people who themselves tried and tested the treatment. Breathya’s Krishna, a case in point, who tried the therapy for his asthma while on an overseas trip. Seeing benefits himself, he thought of sharing his find by opening the centre in 2016.
It’s not a new fad by any means though as Eastern Europeans have been known to be using salt caves for hundreds of years, following the example of salt miners in Poland whose respiratory illnesses seemed to benefit due to their working conditions. The salt rooms mimic the conditions of the mines or caves by adjusting humidity and temperature levels.
So I marched into Breathya that day with my daughter in tow as she wheezed and coughed her way in. I was worried about disturbing or spreading her germs to any unsuspecting customers but the staff very kindly put us in a room by ourselves. They also reassured me salt’s anti-bacterial properties mean that germs are killed before they can travel and the rooms are cleaned and air-purified after every session.
We built salt castles and had salt fights, and a half-an-hour later my toddler was fast asleep on my chest. I took her a few more times that week until her allergies settled down. A sigh of relief until next time as the effects are temporary.
As for myself, sitting in the salt room felt akin to a day after the beach – refreshed and rejuvenated – it could be because salt has negative ions which balance out the positive ions generated from electronics and pollution or simply because in that one hour, I pampered myself by reading my favourite books or listening to soothing tunes.
It’s not a scientific remedy and there are very few studies to back any claims as to how it works so best to use it when symptoms are very mild and alongside prescription medicines. Obviously it’s not for any serious conditions or for those having high blood pressure (so that they don’t ingest too much salt).
It’s not cheap at $70 a session (there are different packages available), but if you don’t mind a lingering taste of salt in your mouth or suddenly looking grey (as I did because I didn’t wear a head cover), it could be worth a try.
A thin layer of salt will settle on every part of you so do what you may, just don’t wear black.