The healing power of salt

Salt Cave Santa Barbara
Courtesy Salt Cave Santa Barbara

By now, you’ve probably heard of Himalayan salt, whether you’ve seen an orange glowing salt lamp or a cooking slab. This form of salt rose to popularity based on the salt’s ability to affect your environment and your health.

Pure Himalayan salt helps modify the body’s external and internal environment, leading to better health. It contains 84 trace minerals, and when heated by light, the salt emits negative ions that attach to positive ions, or pollutants, in the air to help neutralize them.

This salt is found in many forms. A toddler client with an eczema concern found significant relief when his mom added the fine salt to his baths. Another client shared that she felt less anxious when her salt lamp was turned on in her cubicle.

As a traveler, I’ve noticed salt caves available around the country. While in Santa Barbara, California, I decided to stop at Salt, the country’s largest underground man-made salt cave, to see what it was all about. More than 60 tons of pink crystalline salt estimated to be 200 million years old were imported from the Himalayas in Pakistan to fill this space.

After removing my shoes upon entering the cave, I stepped into a carpet of tiny salt crystals, where my feet continued to stir and play even after I sat down in my gravity chair. Surrounding me were walls and pillars covered with orange salty rocks from floor to ceiling. Netting hung overhead holding even more salt rocks.

Through a special aeration process that controls air quality, humidity and salt particles, Salt incorporates halotherapy, which is the practice of breathing in salt particles to open the lungs and assist in respiratory conditions, like asthma, allergies or chronic bronchitis.

If you’ve ever used a neti pot for allergies or sinus infections, you’ve used a form of salt therapy. Neti pots are a salt-based remedy that help to clear the upper respiratory system for many people.

As I waited for the 45-minute session to begin, I began to notice a significant shift in my body almost immediately. A sense of floating filled me — a calm, peaceful and light sensation.

A staff member announced that Solfeggio tones would play during our allotted time, and from there, we were free to meditate, nap, relax — whatever we wanted.

Accompanying me were family members, as well as first-timers. While I experienced the aforementioned, along with noticing somatic sensations more acutely, Mitchell McNabb noticed he had much more energy than usual afterward.

Santa Barbara resident and frequent visitor Jen Robinson enjoys breathwork and sound therapy meditations in the salt cave. “For me, the salt enhances those experiences and adds a cleansing element I don’t feel in other environments for the same activities,” she said.

Dozens of Himalayan salt caves appeared in a United States search result. But if you’re not traveling out of state anytime soon, take a day trip to Urban Oasis Salt Spa in Traverse City or head to Niles and visit the cave at Inner Journey Healing Arts Center.

— Kara McNabb is a traditional naturopathic and somatic practitioner at Magnolia Wellness. Follow her on Instagram at @grandrapidsnaturopath.

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