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07-05-10 | Posted by

First NYC salt room treats skin and respiratory problems.

Photo Credit: haloair.com

There’s a new salt breeze blowing through Manhattan. No, it’s not the result of an ominous climate shift, but rather an ages old phenomenon heretofore unknown in these parts: therapeutic salt rooms. Halo/Air Salt Rooms, an Eastern European-style import by way of Israel, has opened the first New York City salt room at 133 W. 22nd Street. It’s called halotherapy and the rooms replicate naturally occurring salt caves located in Eastern Europe.

The treatment entails lounging in a comfortable room, which is completely covered in salt from floor to ceiling, while breathing air infused with micronized salt particles. The claimed benefits range from alleviation of respiratory problems such as asthma, allergies and even cystic fibrosis to visibly improving skin conditions like psoriasis and acne. If you are suffering from sinus related respiratory issues, you can schedule a consultation with NYC specialist, Dr. David Volpi.

My friend Debra Davis and I rendezvoused at the Halo facility for our first-ever salt room experience. We entered a serene lobby—like that of an upscale spa—and were escorted into a double room for some halotherapy and serious girl talk. Unfortunately, I was suffering from a serious sinus headache, which the helpful technician said actually would be reduced by the treatment.

The room is kept cool, recreating a cave like temperature as well as preserving the salt on the walls. A dry salt aerosol system pumps freshly salinated air rich with negative ions into the room reminiscent of a cool beach breeze. Debra and I settled into our luxurious chaise lounges and wrapped ourselves in plush blankets. We lounged, we schmoozed, we watched an old movie on the wide screen TV, but alas, no relief for my throbbing head. We entered a contented, de-stressed state and occasionally licked a slight film of salt from our lips. After an hour, we gingerly stepped through the three-plus inches of salt on the floor, removed our protective booties and bid farewell to the technician.

The experience was entirely pleasant, relaxing and rather fun. As for the benefits, the company recommends a package of 14 one-hour treatments for full impact. My headache did go away approximately one hour after the treatment. Can’t say if it was the salt or the ibuprofen I had taken four hours earlier.

Halo/Air is the progeny of Ron Rofe, who first learned of salt rooms in Israel when his mother suffered from a rare bacterial disease. To counteract the harshness of traditional medicines, Ron’s mom sought out salt rooms for their soothing effect. She found they actually provided health benefits, helping her respiratory system and easing some of her pain. Seeing the potential, Ron acquired exclusive rights to the aerosol system for the United States.

The practice of salt therapy goes back to the time of the ancient Greeks. Over 2000 years ago, Hippocrates identified the anti-inflammatory benefits of inhaled salt particles for respiratory ailments. But it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that European doctors noticed the beneficial effects of salt. They discovered that prisoners serving life sentences working salt mines enjoyed relatively good health and reached a very high old age. This effect was first documented by Polish physician Dr. F. Bochkowsky in a book published in 1843. He took patients with bronchitis and other respiratory diseases into the salt mines for a natural cure.

The salt room, is “definitely a detox for your skin and for your airways,” states Mr. Rofe. Salt is known for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Reportedly, the fine mist in the salt rooms delivers salt particles deep into the lower lungs where the respiratory problems originate. There the salt absorbs bacteria and clears away mucus. The salt used at Halo is mined from Eastern Euorpean salt caves.

According to Halo/Air, the salt room treatment can be used for: visibly improving skin conditions, detoxification, stress relief, asthma treatment, allergy treatment and respiratory cleansing.

Salt rooms are intended as an addition to traditional medical treatments, not a replacement. Because of their gentle effect, they are particularly popular for children. In fact, Halo/Air has a dedicated children’s room complete with a plasma TV, toys, games and child-size chairs. A single 30-minute session for children costs $50.00, while a single 60-minute session for adults is priced at $65.00. Package deals of four, ten and 14 sessions also are available.

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