MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WRIC) — We are in the midst of allergy season, and what if you could get relief by simply sitting back and relaxing on a lounge chair? There is a place in Midlothian that claims it can help you breathe better even when the pollen is biting back.
Carol and Bob Faraci are soaking up the salty air, but it is no day at the beach.
“I have what I call Richmond allergies, sinusitis is what I mainly suffer from,” Carol explains.
She is in the middle of a session at Breathe Easy Salt Spa. It was founded on decades of practice in Europe and Canada that is picking up in the United States.
The walls and floors are covered with Himalayan Rock Salt. Ground up salt is blowing through the air. They are the ingredients for what is called halotherapy. It was developed in the late 1800’s after a Polish physician noticed salt miners who constantly breathed in the mineral simply breathed better.
Rob Gebhardt and his wife Stacy brought halotherapy to Midlothian two years ago after trying it out in Florida with their son Myles who has Cystic Fibrosis.
“It’s kind of a natural safe alternative to the drugs,” says Rob. “The whole time you’re in this room you’re breathing in these dry salt particles which are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory so it helps open up the airways absorb excess mucous over all just allowing you to breathe better.”
Dr. Raj Malhotra, a Pulmonary Critical Care Physician at VCU Medical Center recommends talking with a physician before taking in a session, especially if you have high blood pressure, heart disease or cancer, conditions for which the salt therapy may not be appropriate. “A good rule of thumb in medicine is always looking at the risks versus the benefits.”
There has not been a full-blown study in the United States on halotherapy, but what research has been done found the treatments can relieve Cystic Fibrosis, COPD, Asthma and Allergy symptoms.
Dr. Malhotra says many people experience psychological benefits too. “If that makes you feel better and that’s worth something to you and there’s not a lot of harm then I think there’s a benefit there,” he explains. “There is a piece of your own physical happiness that kind of impacts your health, so I think that’s reasonable.”
The Faracis say salt therapy helps them. Bob did not even know he had allergies until he started going to the spa and realized how he should have been breathing all along. “Your whole lungs are cleared out and you can breathe easier,” he describes how he feels during and after sessions.
It is not a replacement for seeing a doctor, but halotherapy has helped to cut down visits for the Faracis. They say this salt improves their quality of life even while the quality of air during allergy season takes its toll.
“You can just feel your nose and your head open up, and it’s so much easier to breathe and you get to enjoy that for 45 minutes,” says Carol. “It’s awesome.”
Gebhardt says some people breathe better right away, while others start feeling relief about an hour after the session. There are people who go to the spa just occasionally, once a week or even more frequently. The spa serves adults and children of all ages. Depending on your age, a treatment costs $25 or $45 dollars.
For more information about Breathe Easy click HERE.