As flu season begins some respiratory illness sufferers are turning to ‘salt caves’ for relief, but the Lung Foundation is warning against the trend.
Salt therapy is an alternative health practice that has been around for hundreds of years, but has grown in popularity in Australia since the opening of the country’s first replica ‘salt caves’ about 10 years ago.
Marshal Rubinstein opened a ‘salt cave’ last month in the northern New South Wales town of Byron Bay.
He said he began researching salt therapy after he attended a session in Sydney and found significant relief from a bout of bronchitis.
“In 1743 there was a Polish doctor who worked in a town with a salt mine and he discovered all of the workers from the salt mine had excellent respiratory health,” Mr Rubinstein said.
“After a little while they discovered it was beneficial being in that environment that people from all over Europe would visit the salt mines, and doctors would prescribe time spent in salt caves.”
Mr Rubinstein’s facility is a room with a two-inch layer of salt on the floor and a machine known as a ‘halogenerator’ that disperses micro-sized salt particles into the air.
“Some very clever Russian scientists discovered that it wasn’t necessary to cart someone all the way across the country into a cave to get these beneficial effects,” he said.
“So they studied the temperature, humidity and size of the salt particles and they built a machine called a halogenerator.
“The salt is put down partly for aesthetics, but the true therapeutic benefits come through the halogenerator.”
Mr Rubinstein has no medical qualifications and does not claim salt therapy as a cure for respiratory illness, but said it may relieve symptoms.
“We have a couple of doctors who come in, one that comes in every week,” he said.