A few months ago I was invited to try a session of "salt therapy," which involved sitting in a room covered in floor-to-ceiling salt for 45 minutes. But after reading about it, I assumed it was only beneficial for those with chronic health conditions, so I turned it down. A couple weeks later, I found myself battling a bad respiratory infection, which had me second-guessing my decision not to go. Another editor said she had tried it once, so I figured, what the heck, sign me up.
As I showed up at The Salt Suite for my session, I met with the owner, Jamie, who taught me about the history behind salt therapy, which brought the whole concept full circle for me. Back in the mid-1800s, a health official noticed that salt mine workers rarely got sick with colds, respiratory conditions or lung diseases. He attributed it to the fact that these workers were breathing in salt aerosol every day. Later on, the salt also proved to help treat chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Seemed to make sense.
Jamie explained that the salt also creates an antimicrobial environment where germs can't spread. "It's one of the cleanest places to relax," she said. "You don't have to have an ailment to be here—it's just good for your overall health." She also referred to it as a "negative-ion environment," which means the opposite of office cubicles, computers and stress, so your ability to relax is enhanced.
As she directed me to the room, which seats up to seven adults at a time, she told me to take my shoes off (they gave me socks since I wasn't wearing any), and put my purse in a locker nearby. I noticed the other people entering the room were dressed rather comfortably (lounge clothes, mainly). Inside, the lighting was very dim and the recliners were spread out with dividers in between each one like the curtains you often see in a salon between pedicure stations. This made it feel private, although in reality you were lying down in a dimly lit room full of strangers.
The first 10–15 minutes felt a little awkward, trying to let myself relax and breathe in the salt (it's pumped into the room through a halogenerator in the wall, which grinds up pharmaceutical-grade salt into microscopic particles that are smaller than dust—it's not regulated, but it's deemed safe). I kept glancing over at the other people and wondering why they were there. Were they in poor respiratory health? I remembered Jamie say that asthma and COPD were two big reasons why people came.
After I was situated and felt comfortable, I found myself drifting in and out of sleep and thinking really positive thoughts about my health and my life. When time was up, I knew I wanted more. There was just something so soothing and meditative about that space, which was hard for me to find anywhere else, even at a spa. I ended up returning to the Suite for a few more sessions in the following weeks. Although I didn't see any improvement in my respiratory infection (which I believe is because I didn't go every day during), I did find a sanctuary of sorts for total relaxation that I would highly recommend.