LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- Most of us eat too much salt, but what about breathing salt? Can that be good for you? The owners of the metro's first salt therapy business claim it is.
At Kansas City Salt Mine in Lee's Summit, there's no hard labor. Instead, there are customers like Becca Herzog who are mining for better breathing.
"To avoid taking all the pills and what not. I don't like taking medicine," said Herzog.
So she turned to salt therapy or halotherapy for her fall allergies.
Pure sodium chloride is put in a machine that crushes it into tinier particles and, through a vent, disperses it into the air of the therapy room.
People sit back and breathe it in.
"Acts like a little toothbrush in the respiratory and sinus cavities and gives them better, cleaner breathing," said Sarah Wagner, the business co-owner.
The salt spa's literature lists a host of conditions that Wagner says it can "greatly benefit." They include asthma, COPD, bronchitis and cystic fibrosis.
Doctors we contacted said they didn't know enough about salt therapy to comment. There isn't a lot of scientific literature. Small studies have indicated possible benefits for cystic fibrosis and smoker's cough.
One review published this year in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease said recommendations for halotherapy for COPD cannot be made at this point, and there is a need for high quality studies to determine the effectiveness.
"People with severely altered respiratory situations, it's best to get their doctor's approval," said Wagner.
She says it's best to get approval before trying the therapy. And if you do, don't decrease your prescription medicines without the doctor's okay.
Herzog says after a couple of salt sessions, she was able to stop using her decongestant.
We asked if her symptoms could have lessened because allergy season was waning.
"I don't think so 'cause I usually battle my allergies through to the first freeze and it was well before then," she said.
She added that she'll be back to breathe salt before spring allergy season starts.
Wagner claims those with some skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can also benefit. One session costs $20 to $30. It's less with packaged deals.