December 8, 2022
February 9, 2022
The Science Of Salt Therapy For Health
Clearlight would like to remind users that this should not be taken as direct medical advice, and you should always consult a licensed health practitioner before making any significant changes to your lifestyle or existing pain treatment regimen.
It's common sense nowadays that your environment affects your overall health. As a broad categorisation, the air you breathe, the light that hits your eyes and skin, Electro-Magnetic Frequencies (EMF) in your environment, and sound, all affect your body's biology (1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6). Water and food are two other "environmental" inputs as well.
Of course, in this blog post, I'll talk mainly about the air you breathe. Let me explain that principle a bit further:
You probably know that air pollution is unhealthy for you. For instance, breathing in car exhaust or that of heavy industry has many potential health consequences (7; 8).
What many people don't know is that the air they breathe can also positively support their health. To be more precise, different minerals are found in natural water sources such as oceans, which are emitted into the air (9; 10).
Let me explain why that fact matters:
You might have visited the ocean for a day and felt both really tired and relaxed. The reason for that relaxation is probably the effect of the sun's ultraviolet light rays lowering your stress levels and making you feel good (11). Then there's the "earthing" effect of spending time connected to the earth (12).
But, what you probably didn't know is that the ocean breeze also delivers a low dose of minerals through your airways to your lungs. That delivery can continue steadily, over a period of hours, as long as you're on the beach!
That dose of minerals, such as salt (sodium and chloride), magnesium, and potentially iodine, consequently affects your health because they enter your lungs and bloodstream through your airways. The minerals also partially explain why people destress so much around water - although the effect is probably psychological as well (13).
Nowadays, different types of salt therapy are available for a wide array of different uses.
For lung conditions, for instance, or just to feel better, salt (sodium-chloride; or "NaCl") can be "aerosolised" into the air. "Aerosolised", here, means that the salt is broken down into tiny particles that are subsumed into the air.
Your lungs then take up that salt, and the salt affects airway function all the way from the nose to your bloodstream.
That statement got you curious?
Then let's take a deep dive into this topic.
In this blog post, I consider 3 different health benefits from spending time in a salt room. In the end, I talk about the Clearlight HALOONE Salt Therapy®unit for salt therapy and why other options such as a Himalaya salt lamp are either inferior or useless in comparison.
Let's begin with 3 different benefits of salt therapy though:
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Let's begin at the beginning of salt room therapy benefits: the main goal of breathing is to inhale oxygen and to exhale CO2. Now, CO2 isn't just a useless byproduct but is also used to enhance oxygen uptake (14; 15). In other words, the higher your CO2 levels in your blood, the better you'll absorb oxygen from the air.
Hopefully, you're able to breathe through your nose 24/7, except perhaps during very intense exercise. If not, then salt therapy is going to help you with optimizing your ability to breathe.
Well, your nose, airways, and even lungs contain "mucus" (16; 17). That mucus plays an essential role in the immune system.
Pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria, are prevented from travelling deeper inside the human body due to that mucus. Also, mucus has a filtering function inside your nose.
For optimal breathing capacity and lung function, you'll want a golden mean in terms of mucus quantities. Either too much or too little, at different places of the body, is suboptimal (18). That mucus is a gel-like substance that contains proteins, carbohydrates, and fats (19). Due to being a gel-like substance, mucus can remove pathogens and toxins from the air you breathe.
The benefit of salt therapy is that it clears away excess mucus because the salt "scrubs" the gel-like mucus. Many people experience much clearer nasal passages and airways after a salt therapy session.
Salt therapy can also affect how you're doing with several airway and breathing conditions. Let's go over these one by one - beginning with Cystic Fibrosis:
Cystic fibrosis is a health condition that's exclusively genetic - which is rare (19). While I won't go into details of the condition, suffice it to say that people with Cystic Fibrosis overproduce mucus. That excess mucus product is called "sputum" and makes breathing much more difficult.
Aerosolising salt, moreover, allows cystic fibrosis patients to release more sputum, changing the body's ability to clear sputum and thereby increasing their ability to clear their airways (20; 21; 22). That sputum often contains immunological factors as well, such as "macrophages", white blood cells that eat non-self material in your body.
Over time that sputum can become very bacteria-rich - clearing sputum thus has huge health benefits.
But what benefit does salt therapy have for a healthy person? Well, just like an infrared sauna allows you to detox your cells to a greater extent, salt therapy allows you to clear out your airways.
And, there are more benefits for if your lung function isn't too great:
If you've got reduced lung function then breathing in salt may improve that domain (23; 24; 25). Whether healthy people see improvements in lung function hasn't been studied yet. Anecdotal evidence from athletes, however, does attest that some of them experience benefits in this area!
Also, where athletes probably may benefit is by helping them recover from breathing in dry air during aerobic exercise (26; 27). Infrared saunas have similar effects.
Next up, let's explore how salt therapy can improve airway health:
Ever spent several hours in an air-conditioned room? Yes, your nose may have become dry (28)! After drying out and losing moisture, your nose is more prone to have toxins and other foreign substances such as bacteria get stuck in there.
Aerosolising salt subsequently works as a cleaning operation for your nose and deeper airways.
These pathogens and other foreign substances are then carried away, creating a better milieu for moisture to return to your nose. Of course, the process of "aerosolisation" also logically entails that water is realised into the air as well, delivering the second part of the equation of reversing a dry nasal environment. In other words, salt therapy doesn't just add "salt" to your airways but water as well!
The reverse is also true: salt will also clear excess mucus, as I've already explained in the section above about cystic fibrosis. For the same reason, "nasal rinses" or "sinus rinses" are very popular.
Now here's the deal: the finer the particles of the aerosolised salt, the deeper they will travel into your lungs (29). I'll come back to that topic in a later section. Suffice it to say that you'll want a halotherapy (salt therapy) product that diffuses very tiny particles.
Well, mucus is also present in your airways and lungs, and therefore, smaller aerosolised particles are far superior to larger ones with salt therapy.
Also, there's the issue of sinusitis. Due to sinusitis issues, many people cannot breathe through their noses 24/7.
A strong relationship between mouth breathing and sinusitis exists (30; 31; 32). Sometimes mechanical issues prevent you from breathing through the nose but I think the chances for that to happen are overestimated. I consider mucus buildup the main problem in preventing 24/7 nasal breathing. Moreover, if you do have sinus issues, it will affect your sleep quality and risk for sleep conditions, lower athletic performance, less wakefulness during the day, decreased well-being, inhibitions of cognitive performance, and much more (33; 34; 35; 36).
So one of the benefits of salt therapy is that it can enhance your ability to clear your sinuses and actively prevent sinusitis(37; 38).
Now that I've taken an extensive look at lung function overall, let's consider how salt therapy can affect different pathologies related to airway and lung function:
Many people, to get salt therapy room benefits, use a nebulizer, or another device that aerosolises salt if they have a lung condition. But what does the science say about whether these therapies are justified? I explore the current state of the salt therapy science below:
Viruses, such as coronaviruses or the viruses causing the common cold, can affect the health of your nasal passages and airways (39; 40; 41; 42). Salt therapy helps in that instance when used within 48 hours after the first symptoms appear. Not all studies I've quoted agree with this outcome, but overall, the results seem positive (43). In hospitalised children, for instance, salt therapy can lower the hospital stay length in the case of lung infections.
As stated before cystic fibrosis is a disorder that's rare because it's purely genetic - so, not affected by environmental influences (44; 45). The chronic health condition mostly affects the white population and creates disorders in many different organ systems, such as the lungs, airways, intestines, and more.
The gene that is influenced by cystic fibrosis also affects mucus production in the human body. For a few decades now, breathing in saline has been a routine therapy for this condition, and partially responsible for longer life expectancy for people with this condition.
A "systematic review" from 2018 collected and analysed all the available high-quality research of salt therapy for cystic fibrosis (46). Although evidence quality is low, that study concluded that overall lung capacity may go up, that sputum clears better, and that you'll have fewer periods of "exacerbations" (periods during which the health condition flares up).
Also, during exacerbations the therapy is additionally beneficial.
If you've got cystic fibrosis, COPD, or any other condition discussed here, consult with your physician first before applying salt therapy or halotherapy for safety reasons. Different individuals with different circumstances might respond differently to salt therapy. If you've got very severe cystic fibrosis, for instance, salt therapy can create a detox reaction, increasing your symptoms in the short term.
Let's move on to another lung condition right now:
COPD is a health condition where mechanical reasons prevent you (i.e. obstruct) from breathing properly (47; 48). People with COPD frequently have inflamed airways that contain tons of sputum. Breathing unclean air and smoking are the two main reasons why someone ends up with COPD.
Lung tissue loses elasticity during COPD and airways get restricted. Inhaling salt (i.e. saline solutions) has been a therapy for COPD for decades now (49; 50). In the short term, the therapy seems to induce a detox reaction which temporary increases breathlessness. However, over the course of multiple treatments over several days, breathlessness goes down while subjective well-being improves. Lung capacity is also enhanced.
In other studies, these improvements also translate into an increased exercise capacity, higher quality of life (51). In the short term, especially during exacerbations, salt therapy can enhance the outflow of "sputum" from your body - the gel-like substance in your lungs and airways that can entrap toxins - but side effects sometimes occur (52).
Moving on to the next airway condition:
Asthma is an airway condition characterised by inflammation and structural changes to the airways (53; 54). Contrary to COPD - which mainly affects adults - asthma is commonly present in both children and adults. Coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and frequent wheezing are the main symptoms of asthma.
An altered immune response seems to play a role in asthma as well (55; 56).
Allergens and pollutants often trigger asthmatics, resulting in an asthmatic attack. Fortunately though, inhaling salt leads to an increase in the clearance rate of toxins, through the entire airways ranging from the nasal cavity to the bronchi (57).
When salt therapy is applied within 24 hours of an "exacerbation" or challenge, it's safe and likely improves the clearance rate of these inhaled toxins. Excess mucus buildup from toxins or infections that have gotten stuck in the airways also becomes less risky. With incorrect use, however, this therapy can become counterproductive so always consult with your physician first if you've got asthma (58).
When applied consistently over time, salt therapy can also enhance overall lung function (59). Asthmatics can thus benefit tremendously well from halotherapy.
Lastly, in this section, I'll consider one more airway condition:
Acute and chronic bronchitis are different in that the former is more frequently caused by viral infections, while the latter is caused by toxin exposure over time (such as cigarette smoke) (60; 61). In this condition, the bronchi, part of the larger airways, get inflamed, thereby reducing breathing and gas exchange capacity.
Fortunately, lots of research has been carried out on bronchitis and inhaling salt (62; 63; 64; 65).
When applying salt therapy for acute bronchitis, breathlessness goes down, the severity of the condition decreases, plus the therapy is very well tolerated. Risk of hospitalization after an acute virus infection, causing acute bronchitis, also goes down slightly. More (high-quality) research is needed though to confirm these effects - research is very promising though!
For chronic bronchitis, the results are a bit less promising, as the outcome varies between individuals (66; 67; 68). My recommendation here would be to experiment - under your physician's supervision - and to observe whether you get benefits or not.
The conclusion from this section? Inhaling salt can have a wide array of benefits for many acute and chronic lung conditions. And, although more speculative and I've not summarised the scientific literature here, some people with skin conditions benefit from this therapy as well. Examples include psoriasis or atopic dermatitis (69).
Here's one more of the benefits of salt therapy benefits:
You shouldn't just use salt therapy if you're in poor health - everyone can benefit! Salt therapy is almost 1,000 years old and was already practised in Eastern Europe in 1200 AD (69).
Almost 40% of people who visit natural salt therapy (halotherapy) do so because of relaxation reasons (70). Hence, even though salt therapy has not been very extensively studied in healthy individuals, many do experience benefits from an anecdotal perspective!
One of the reasons why people visit salt caves - as a natural form of halotherapy - is because it's one of the only places on the planet where the air isn't polluted. Both indoor and outdoor air pollutants kill millions of people each year and affect the health of 90% of the world's population (71; 72; 73; 74; 75).
Up to 80% of the world's population is also partially affected daily by air pollution. Unless you're living in Scandinavia or in the Amazon, you're at least breathing in some polluted air!
Hence, the ability to spend some time in a clean environment allows you to fully relax, not only reaping the benefits from the salt therapy upon your overall health but also the absence of ingesting new toxins. For that very reason, it's also highly recommended to use salt therapy within a clean environment.
Clearlight International Infrared Saunas® are the perfect choice due to the guarantee that you'll have for low toxin exposure! Glues and other toxins are minimised in our saunas, assuring an optimal health-promoting effect without any downsides.
Next up, let's consider why we offer the best halotherapy on the market today:
Here's the deal:
For a very long time, salt therapy was only available in spas and other commercial settings. Home use of halotherapy or salt therapy wasn't possible, simply because there was no easy to use product on the market. For that reason, customers would pay $30 for a salt therapy session in a spa.
Travel time to that spa was and still is a big downside for you and me to experience the benefits of salt therapy on a very frequent basis! Why? The entire process is very time-consuming because you'll have to get dressed to leave the house, travel to a spa or other environment, pay, inhale salt during your session, go back home, and go on with your day.
What if there were a better way? There is a better way now: Clearlight International Infrared Saunas® now offers Clearlight HALOONE Salt Therapy®for professional-grade salt therapy in your home.
That product is specifically made to accompany your Clearlight® sauna but can be used in other rooms as well if necessary. You can thus use your infrared sauna at the same time you're letting your body enjoy the many benefits of salt therapy!
Why use Clearlight HALOONE Salt Therapy® device, specifically, you might think? Here's what makes HALOONE very different from any other salt therapy product on the market today:
Not every Halotherapy device is created equal. Let's explore why:
In ancient times and the Early Modern Period (1500 - 1800 CE) and afterwards, salt therapy was applied by crushing salt and moving it around with the feet to release the salt into the air. Modern technology makes that process a lot easier so that you can simply relax without having to do any hard work.
The Clearlight HALOONE Salt Therapy®has the unique characteristic that it aerosolises particles that are extremely tiny compared to the performance of competitors.
How do I know that the particle size of the aerosols matters? Simple: the scientific literature about air pollution tells you all you need to know!. Let's look at some "particulate matter" literature, for instance (76; 77; 78).
(I'll have to take a brief detour here but stay with me...)
Particulate matter are tiny particles emitted by traffic such as aeroplanes, cars, by industry, and natural sources such as deserts. The maximal size of particulate matter is expressed as "PM10" or PM2.5" or "PM0.1".
PM10, for instance, are particles with a size of up to 10 micrometres. One micrometre has the size of 1/1,000th of a millimetre. Hence, such particles are extremely small.
Bacteria commonly have a size of 1-10 micrometres and a human hair about 100 micrometres. Hence, particles of 2.5 or even 0.1 micrometres are very small.
My point? The smaller the particle, the deeper it travels inside your body! Bigger particles - like dust or pollen which have sizes up to 10 micrometres - are easily filtered by your nasal passages and airways (79).
Very tiny particles, PM0.1, on the other hand, can travel through your lungs into your bloodstream. For that reason, the latter can have a more widespread and also systemic effect.
Of course, it all depends on what you're putting into your body.
Vehicle and power plant exhausts, and (natural) fires are the main sources of PM0.1.
Salt, however, when aerosolised, will also travel deeper into your airways and have potentially systemic effects on your body.
For that reason, the salt also needs to be extremely pure, which is precisely what Clearlight HALOONE Salt Therapy® offers. Any contaminants in the product will thus be absorbed by your body, which is why purity is essential.
Next up, there's another reason why the HALOONE is an excellent choice:
Nobody wants to go through 15 steps to enjoy the benefits of salt therapy. So what's the solution? Easy: you heat up your sauna and at the same time activate your Clearlight HALOONE Salt Therapy® unit. Before using that unit, you double-check whether the cartridge is still full and whether the device is charged.
Then you enjoy your session.
No need for a spa or 15 different steps before you can enjoy halotherapy.
My point? If you can make a cup of coffee at an espresso machine with fresh beans, you can certainly upgrade your health with the Clearlight HALOONE Salt Therapy®!
The product is also easy to use in any place of your home as there's no need to hook it up to the power supply when using it.
Remember what made the metric system so great? Large parts of humanity gained a foolproof method not only to measure but also to communicate and calculate easily.
You've got 10 fingers on your hand so you might as well make the main counting method up and downscale by a factor of 10, right?
So here's the deal: the salts that are standardised for usage in the Clearlight HALOONE Therapy® unit are purified to the extreme. Our salts contain 99%+ sodium-chloride (NaCl) and nothing else.
For that reason, you can assume that the results you're getting are extremely close to what people experienced in all of the clinical trials I've referenced in this blog post. You'll also minimise your risk of ingesting toxins to negligible levels - I alluded to its importance earlier.
You'll thus assure you're reaping maximum health benefits from every session. Let's explore why that principle is important a bit more:
Let's say, for instance, that there are tiny trace amounts of cadmium or lead or mercury found in the salt you're inhaling. In that case - now that you know that tiny aerosolised particles will not only be taken up by your lungs but also inside your bloodstream - you'll want to ensure what you're ingesting is absolutely clean.
The higher the percentage of pure minerals, sodium and chloride, the more predictable and even standardised the effects on your health are going to be.
Our 99%+ purity assures that you'll maximise health benefits while minimising downsides.
And, after giving you these 3 reasons, let me conclude:
I frequently spend time, as a CEO of Clearlight International Infrared Saunas®, on different Mediterranian beaches to recharge.
Why is that fact important?
Well, as I've stated before, many people underappreciated the role of healthy air in promoting health. People intuitively understand that eating junk food all day and not moving is detrimental to their health, and yet, when it comes to air, the invisible nature of the exposure precludes them from making the right conclusions.
That's where Clearlight HALOONE Therapy® comes in. With this product, you'll add clean sea or ocean air to your health routine, hopefully in an infrared sauna that contains negligible amounts of toxins, and promote overall health.
Every single individual on the planet now has the ability to increase the amount of healthy air they breathe in, and lower the amount of polluted air (such as by using air purifiers indoors).
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