The healing power of salt

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The walls are grey. The lights are dim. Salt fills the air and covers the floors, like a blanket of sand.

This man-made , salt "cave" in Saginaw's Salt House, is a once-weekly can't-miss destination for Laurie Draves, for one simple reason, "It will keep pretty much, my sinuses open, where I can breathe, my chest open where I do breathe better."

Breathing has been a life-long struggle for Laurie, who's suffered with severe asthma since childhood.

Since she started these weekly 45-minute sessions, over a year ago, she still needs her medications- but not nearly as much, "I'm not taking as many antihistimines as I would. And theyre've been times when I'd take them throughout the day."

Salt is actually used in most common breathing treatments, says Salt House owner and pulmonary medical equipment specialist, Scott Williams, "Part of the medication that you're breathing in is sal. It's in a liquid form. It's a pharmaceutical grade sulfate, the same type of salt we use in the treatments. And it's there to open up the airways, so that the medication portion of that can penetrate better into your lungs. "

That pharmeceutical grade salt is pumped into the cave through a vent. The salt on the floor and in the lamps is Himylayan sea salt. Neither is quite like the stuff in your shaker at home.

"Unfortunately, the salt you usually buy over the counter has been processed, so essentially everything that it was comprised of that was good for us, has been removed," Scott says.

In fact, that Himylayn salt can only be found once place in the world, Scott says, "There used to be a sea, over where the Himylayn Mountains are now. When the plates shifted, about 350-million years ago, it got rid of the sea. It compressed all of the salt that used to be in the sea and buried it deep into the earth."

The lamps in the cave, just like the ones you can buy for your house, work by releasing negative inons, that purify the air, "They absorb water molecules out of the ai. And the molecules contain the bacteria and pollutants that are floating around us. And they disolve it and release the air as purified."

Having lamps in your home is great but, Scott says, sitting in the cave has added benefits, "There's microscopic particles floating in the air that you breathe down into your lungs. And you absorb into your skin and salt is incredibly antibacterial, antiiflammatory."

Those benefits bring people to the cave for a variety of health reasons, Scott says, not just breathing issues, "Anything from depression, to respiratory conditions,to arthritis, to migrains. And the age groups vary from infants to seniors."

It's also a relaxing experience; one, Laurie says, is well worth the drive down from Midland every week, "It's been very helpful for me."

If you want to get the full salt cave experience, you can call The Salt House in Saginaw at (989) 401-9010. You can also visit their facebook page.

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