Recently, I went on an adventure with my mom to a salt cave. It seems these small businesses that advertise salt caves are in every town I drive through. So of course, the curiosity took over and I had to see what this was all about. I have to say up front that I am not a person to quickly subscribe to things like this, but I am always willing to try them out.
We began our salt cave adventure by making an appointment and arriving 15 minutes early as instructed. We were told to put on the white socks they provided as it was important not to contaminate the cave. As the socks where not brand new, I slipped them on over my own. We locked up our belongings, including our cell phones and were warned that we may get a little dusty from the salt.
Upon entering the cave, I was struck by the pink hue of the Himalayan salt on the walls. Lights rigged behind slabs of salt on the wall shown through and highlighted the color with a peachy tone. (Picture giant glowing versions of the salt lamps that sell at department stores). There were false structures to mimic stalactites and stalagmites which added greatly to the ambiance. It did indeed feel like a cave. Walking to my chair, I felt about three inches of grounded salt under my feet. To be honest, it was a little painful and awkward to walk on and yet kind of fun. Sitting in my “gravity chair” was very comfortable and we were then covered with a warm Sherpa blanket. Each chair was wired with headphones and we were directed to put these on and listen to the music and meditate. A narrator would talk a little about the benefits of the salt cave and then come back on when our 45 minutes were up.
The narrator told us that we were sitting in “literally tons” of pure Himalayan salt. This salt contained 84 trace minerals that are necessary for our health. We were instructed to breathe deeply to absorb these minerals. Not only are the minerals healing but the salt also gives off negative ions from which we are severely lacking in our present society. The narrator went on to explain that we receive plenty of positive ions from electronics and we need to balance out with the negative. In addition, it was also noted that the air in this cave is completely sterile and not even a flu virus could survive. This salt was said to help with respiratory issues and through the process, if we feel cold, that means that it is working within us. When the narrator stopped speaking, very peaceful and meditative music played. Looking around, the cave was dark with highlights of pink coming through the wall and on the ceiling were LED strands that mimicked twinkling stars of a night sky. I have to say that it was indeed a very relaxing atmosphere and I think I even dosed off for a bit.
When it was over, my mom and I both agreed that it was a nice and relaxing experience that we probably would not seek out to do again. After all, what really just happened? Did the salt do everything that was claimed, or could it be that having 45 minutes to enjoy a peaceful atmosphere and listen to music was the larger factor?
Well, I hate to ruin the illusion but there is no actual scientific evidence and no peer reviewed studies that Himalayan salt does any of the things claimed. The trace minerals in pink salt are negligent at best and it is not logical that breathing salt in the air would provide necessary benefits. It also does not omit negative ions as thoroughly explained here: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/salt-lamps-cure-everything/. Although I could not verify the claim that the environment is sterile, I did come across some controversy over respiratory claims. While evidence does not indicate pink salt to improve respiratory issues, some doctors advise against the salt caves as it may actually exacerbate problems.
My advice is to take this blog with a grain of salt and use your best judgement. If putting on a Himalayan salt lamp makes you feel better, go for it. Or if you find going to a salt cave fun and relaxing, have at it. Just be sure to check with your doctor if you plan on using Himalayan salt as a medical treatment of any kind.
By: Kathryn Chambers
Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc.