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The benefits of salt

Posted in HEALTH + WELLBEING By Maggie O' Sullivan

A few years ago researchers in the UK compared the health of people living in towns and cities on the coast with that of those who lived inland. They discovered that coastal-dwellers tended to enjoy the best health and though they were unable to prove it had anything to do with the sea air, don’t we all feel better after a trip to the beach?

So I was intrigued when a friend mentioned recently that she had signed up for a course of halotherapy, or salt therapy, for her asthma. While halotherapy has become rather fashionable in the UK in recent years, it’s not a new thing. The treatment was used in ancient Greece (‘halo’ is Greek for salt) and was rediscovered in the 19th century in Poland. Salt therapy continues to be hugely popular in Poland and Russia, and not just for respiratory problems – it’s said to be very effective for certain skin conditions, too.Salt Cave therapy centreThere are several ways to increase your salt intake in the UK. A company called The Salt Cave (above and top) opened the UK’s first salt therapy treatment centre in 2008 and now has 14 across the country. Treatments take place in a ‘cave’ designed to replicate a Siberian salt mine, with thick salt walls and salt-sand floors. Dry, salty air is then pumped into the chamber via a special system developed by Salt Cave and all you have to do is breathe in for the healing to begin. Sessions last an hour; the first session is free, after which prices are from £35 an hour, depending on how many you book.Salt Cave, Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, GalwayThe Galway Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa has its own subterranean salt chamber where, like Salt Cave, it replicates the natural microclimate of a salt mine using a dry saline diffuser. Thick, natural salt walls and rock-salt floors regulate the temperature, humidity and the hypo-bacterial environment of the cave while comfortable chairs and soft music and amber lighting are designed to help visitors relax. Sessions last 45 minutes and cost €15.St Brides Hotel and Spa, PembrokeshireAlternatively, you could combine a trip to the seaside with a stay at a hotel offering salt treatments. St Brides Spa Hotel on the Pembrokeshire coast has one of the best spas in Wales and among its many facilities is a Salt Infusion Room. The moist heat, they say, not only helps to boost circulation and clear congestion, it eliminates toxins and soothes aching muscles. Follow up with a Salty Fucus Luscious Body Scrub and Massage (fucus is a type of seaweed) by Voya and a dip in the sea. Residents have free use of the Salt Infusion Room when combined with a 55-minute treatment; non-residents pay £25 with a treatment; Salty Fucus Lucious body Scrub and Massage, £80.


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