The History of Salt Therapy: Roots from the Ancient Salt Mines of Eastern Europe

Salt therapy, or halotherapy, is becoming more and more common in the U.S. It actually started many years ago in Eastern Europe, thanks to salt miners.

Key takeaways:

  • Salt mining began in the fourteenth century, and in the 1800s, a doctor noticed that salt miners weren’t experiencing respiratory issues like other miners.
  • Dr. Feliks Boczkowski opened the first health resort center in 1839 in Wieliczka, Poland, in which people could sit in salt baths underground. 
  • The healing properties of breathing salt soon spread around the world – halogenerators now recreate these salt cave settings for the masses.
  • The Salt Suite® helps people Breath Easy™ and relieves skin ailments.

Salt therapy is an effective and increasingly common way to relieve symptoms of a variety of ailments and conditions, including respiratory issues like asthma and COPD, and skin conditions like eczema. Regular sessions help people breathe easier and notice better-looking skin, and the experience is relaxing and helps reduce stress.

But where did salt therapy begin? The global trend has been around for decades, but it all began in ancient salt mines when salt miners and doctors noticed the special effects salt had on the body. 

Let’s walk through a brief salt therapy history. The Salt Suite® has adapted this ancient practice to provide health and wellness benefits today.

How did salt therapy begin?

The origins of salt therapy come from Eastern European countries including Poland, Russia, Belarus, Romania, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Slovakia, and Ukraine. This region of the world was once under the sea, where salt residue was leftover when it became land, millions of years ago.

People began to mine salt in the fourteenth century, according to some estimates, and in the nineteenth century, salt’s healing effects became known.  Dr. Feliks Boczkowski started it in Poland. He was a physician who quickly realized that salt miners didn’t experience the same breathing and lung problems that other kinds of miners experienced. Salt mining seemed to improve their skin and breathing instead of being detrimental to their health. 

Dr. Boczkowski opened the first health resort center in 1839 after this discovery: the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Wieliczka, Poland, where he provided soothing salt baths with underground brine. Breathing in salty air was found to alleviate respiratory and lung issues, so, over the years, treatment in salt caves in Eastern Europe became a common, inexpensive way for people to find relief.

In 1949, Dr. K.H. Spannahel, a German doctor, saw the health advantages of salt caves during World War II. He then created an inpatient center, the Klyutert cave, along with geologist Dr. H. Kessler, to begin what is now known as speleotherapy, which is a type of therapy relying on caves and salt mines.

It wasn’t until 1958 that another physician started salt treatments in the Wieliczka Salt Mine and created subterraneotherapy, or the Skulimowski method, which is based on patient exposure to underground climates. In 1964, the same salt mine created a Kinga Allery Treatment Spa, where people could get help with respiratory issues and other ailments. This salt mine is still open today to tourists and as a health resort.

Ukraine opened the first speleo-hospital in the Solotvyno Salt Mine in 1968, and the first halotherapy (or salt therapy) device was created in Odessa in 1985 by the Institute of Balneology, with help from Uzhgorod salt cavers. Now, halotechnology has spread around the world, infiltrating wellness facilities and becoming a more popular treatment for a variety of health issues.

Why halotherapy?

Halotherapy was created to recreate the atmosphere and conditions of those early salt caves in Eastern Europe. Salt rooms or chambers are created that replicate those underground salt mines with the help of a halogenerator, which grinds up salt into microscopic particles and distributes them into the air. 

This technology was made much more adaptable for wider applications and easy to use so that spas and wellness facilities could use it for its healing properties. Halogenerators produce dry salt aerosol after sodium chloride crystals are placed in the feeder, ground up into microparticles, and dispersed with a fan into the room.

Today’s wellness enthusiasts enjoy halotherapy because it’s an all-natural alternative to other therapies and is safe. Because of salt’s antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties, salt therapy can provide symptom relief for a range of conditions and ailments, including:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • COPD
  • Emphysema
  • Respiratory infections
  • Bronchitis
  • Sinusitis
  • Eczema
  • Acne
  • Psoriasis
  • Rosacea
  • Dermatitis
  • Skin irritation
  • Anti-aging
  • Stress
  • Sleeplessness

Salt can help you clear out your nasal cavities, get rid of pollutants and toxins, and clean sinuses of bacteria, all of which can contribute to breathing issues. Salt also helps cleanse and exfoliate the skin, reducing redness and irritation and leading to younger, healthier-looking skin. 

Why choose The Salt Suite®?

For many years, people have been taking advantage of the health benefits of salt environment immersion, beginning with ancient salt mines and healing salt caves. Today, people are still reaping these benefits. 

Visiting a salt therapy facility regularly can help relieve symptoms associated with a variety of breathing issues and skin conditions, and it’s an all-natural treatment. Salt therapy is the perfect addition to a strong wellness routine. 

Turn to The Salt Suite® if you’re considering salt therapy. We welcome guests of all ages who are looking to Breathe Easy™ or get better results with their skin. Our sessions are 45 minutes, and you can sit back and relax while breathing in healing salt particles. Clients often listen to music, read, fall asleep, or meditate during the sessions, so it’s a great place to relax and unwind. 

To get started with this life-changing therapy, or to learn more about its origins, find a Salt Suite® location near you today.

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