Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride — it’s simple in nature but profound in impact. Spiritually speaking, it is known to purify negative energy. Ayurvedic medicine utilizes rock salt, or saindhava lavana, to boost skin health and treat respiratory conditions. In fact, it is known as a rare substance for its unique ability to balance all three doshas.
The use of salt caves for therapeutic purposes stems from the 19th century when a Polish physician discovered that men working in salt mines suffered fewer respiratory problems than the general population. This documentation is credited to the emergence of modern-day salt therapy, or halotherapy, in the western world. While the practice is slowly gaining popularity across the U.S., devout yogis have been utilizing wet and dry salt therapy to treat common ailments for thousands of years.
Immersing oneself in a room filled with pharmaceutical grade salt is a healing modality offered at hundreds of spas across the nation. In Colorado, there are a healthy handful of salt therapy rooms open to visitors to try the experience first-hand. A session commonly consists of relaxing in a zen-like room for an average of 30 to 60 minutes. Some salt enthusiasts like to meditate, while others take the opportunity to breathe deep and snooze out.
Of course, there are skeptics. While there is promising research on halotherapy’s ability to fight lung disease, many denounce any effect salt has on anxiety and depression as a placebo. Curiosity got the best of me, so I decided to try it out for myself.
When I stepped into Sanctuary Spa in Fort Collins, I was fully ready to harmonize my mind, body and soul with the sacred element. I was greeted by the boutique spa’s owner, Summer Luman, who ushered me to her quaint salt cave and shared more about the therapy’s benefits.
When I stepped into Sanctuary Spa in Fort Collins, I was fully ready to harmonize my mind, body and soul with the sacred element.
“As you lounge in the salt cave, a special device called a halogenerator will disperse microscopic salt particles into the air,” she said. “You’ll inhale these tiny particles into your airways and lungs, and also ingest through your skin while lounging and relaxing.”
She went on to explain that salt is naturally anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. Once inhaled, the salt causes one’s mucus to thin, making it easier to expel and dislodge pathogens, debris and toxins — like a toothbrush for the airways.
“Dry salt particles also gently stimulate your body’s natural cilia movement. Cilia help keep our airways clear, so we can breathe easier; with the help of salt, this process is accelerated,” she said. “For the skin, dry salt can absorb impurities, regulate the pH level and promote your skin’s ‘good bacteria.’”
An experience meant to help reduce inflammation and encourage healthy regeneration? Sounded like heaven to me. After I slipped on a soft robe and placed my belongings to the side, I entered the cave. If you go, I recommend stepping mindfully — rock salts are harder than expected!
The salt-covered space was adorned with a Himalayan salt lamp and two cozy recliner chairs. Books were available on the side table, as were tissues and a decadent piece of chocolate, but I wanted to stay fully present; I chose to close my eyes and simply notice what was around me.
A few minutes in I could already feel salt activate my taste buds. A tingling sensation consumed my nose, but it was subtle enough to not interfere with the relaxation. A light coating overlayed my skin. I continued to delve deeper into my breath as more and more salt redirected my senses. Before I knew it, my 45 minutes were up, and I was once again greeted by Luman’s gentle presence.
Whether it was the salt therapy or the opportunity to sit back and relax that left me feeling completely rejuvenated is unknown. It’s important to note that to see results, it’s recommended to utilize salt therapy consistently. However, I will say, I truly think they’re onto something special here.
Sanctuary Spa is located at 149 W Oak St., Fort Collins. A 45-minute salt therapy session is $45. ‘The Insight’ is a three-hour retreat priced at $250 that consists of a tea ceremony, grounding foot bath, salt cave therapy, Reiki session and an oracle reading. Learn more at sanctuaryfc.com.
Originally published in the Winter + Spring 2021-22 issue.