Maybe you’ve wondered how salt therapy works to improve physical health. It’s one thing to walk out of a session feeling like you can breathe again, and another to understand the reasons why. It’s not your imagination! Dry salt inhalation works in specific ways to provide a therapeutic benefit, and this post will explain some of the obvious and not-so-obvious actions of salt therapy.
Once inhaled, dry salt aerosols are deposited onto the bronchial mucosa. There, the salt absorbs excess fluids from inflamed or infected bronchial tissue via osmosis. This reduces bronchial edema which is a common problem in respiratory disease, making it easier for the lungs to remain flexible and expand.
Inhaled salt aerosols are also mucolytic, helping to break down and thin mucus, making it easier to expel. Mucus is a natural protective secretion meant to trap pathogens, so when the mucus comes up, it brings out the germs, allergens, and particles you want to remove. Salt therapy therefore acts as a natural expectorant making it easier to clear the lungs.
Salt breathing therapy is anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory, with studies demonstrating a reduction in bronchial hyper-reactivity so problematic for people with asthma and COPD. Salt aerosols have an anti-inflammatory effect in both acute and chronic conditions.
Salt is a naturally antiseptic substance and has been used for centuries as a safe and effective food preservative. Salt kills many types of bacteria through osmosis, causing their cells to collapse. Salt has also been shown to deactivate the flu virus on surfaces. These sanitizing properties may support the internal lung environment in resisting and overcoming infections.
Because it makes it easier to breathe and obtain enough oxygen, salt therapy has a beneficial effect on the nervous system. This will generally restore the body’s ability to regulate itself in every way.
In summary, salt therapy is a natural non-pharmacological approach with no adverse side effects which can be used on its own or as an adjunct to medications in the management of lung diseases.
Orv Hetil. 2015 Oct 11;156(41):1643-52.Theoretical basis and clinical benefits of dry salt inhalation therapy [Article in Hungarian]
Pediatr Pulmonol. 2017 May;52(5):580-587. Epub 2016 Oct 10. Halotherapy as asthma treatment in children: A randomized, controlled, prospective pilot study. Bar-Yoseph R1, Kugelman N2, Livnat G1,2, Gur M1, Hakim F1,2, Nir V1, Bentur L1,2.
Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 1997 Jul-Aug;(4):19-21.[The use of an artificial microclimate chamber in the treatment of patients with chronic obstructive lung diseases].[Article in Russian] Chernenkov RA, Chernenkova EA, Zhukov GV.