The Saltiest Self-Care — How More Salt Can Be a Good Thing
by Catherine Morris | September 11, 2020, updated 3 months ago
Ancient healers have been using salt in traditional treatments for centuries—from Ayurvedic scrubs to Chinese kidney tonics. They knew what science has now established—that the powerful ‘seasoning’ has strong anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties.
Modern health practitioners use salt to treat respiratory ailments, skin conditions, brain fog, and insomnia. So, how do you start using this seasoning as self-care?
Floating, Sensory Deprivation Experiences and Wellness
What is Float Therapy
You don't need to live near the ocean to recreate that sensation, because float therapy offers the same mental benefits, and some amazing physical ones too.
At Kori Gordon's Natural Elements Wellness Centre in Manitoba, clients can book a float cabin where they immerse themselves 10 inches deep in skin temperature water—water that contains around 1,000lbs of epsom salts, as well as zinc, silver, and copper. The high salt content enables the body to effortlessly float, while the minerals have a detoxifying and anti-bacterial effect.
“It’s amazing. There’s no pressure on any part of your body. It’s the only place on earth that your body can experience zero gravity effects,” says Gordon, who adds that many clients try floating out of curiosity, while others are seeking treatment for ailments like stress, skin conditions, and pain.
Floating is also a great preventative practice that supports the immune system—“You detox while you float. It's really good for the body and the skin.”
Sensory Deprivation Concerns and Benefits
The “spacious and roomy” float cabin is a good idea for those uncomfortable with small spaces. Gordon says first timers, or those intimidated at the prospect of spending an hour alone in the water, sometimes like music or meditation recordings as they float—“If you're nervous about being alone with your thoughts, music can help ease you into it so you are not in your head too much.”
The effect is so relaxing that it's not unusual for people to fall asleep mid-treatment, says Gordon who stresses that it's perfectly safe to doze off as the salty water keeps you buoyant.
Stay awake during your time in the tank though, and the sensory deprivation can unlock a variety of mental benefits from increasing your creativity to improving your memory . You could even alter your consciousness and have an out of body experience.
One of Gordon's regular clients, an elderly man in his 70s, floats to treat his PTSD and she says the change in him over the course of his therapy has been remarkable—“He is a totally different man from when he first started coming. I've seen a huge transformation in him.”
Float therapy has gone more mainstream in recent years, as a growing number of celebrities tout its benefits, but it's not the only salt-based treatment on offer.
What is Halotherapy?
Halotherapy (which takes its name from the Greek word for salt) originated in 19th century Eastern Europe when a Polish doctor noticed that salt miners had better respiratory and skin health than coal miners—and most of the non-mining public.
During a typical halotherapy session, clients sit in a 'salt cave' breathing in finely ground pharmaceutical grade salt,
“It is sort of like sitting by the ocean. When we go to the ocean we feel stronger and healthier, and a lot of people with breathing issues notice their symptoms disappear in the salt air.”
How Does Halotherapy Help?
The anti inflammatory dry salt vapour is ideal for anyone with respiratory issues like asthma, smoker's cough, allergies, hay fever, and bronchitis. Gordon even has a client with advanced COPD who was in and out of hospital, on an oxygen tank, and needed several inhalers before beginning halotherapy. She's been able to reduce her inhalers and medication thanks to the treatment, and hasn't been hospitalized once since beginning the sessions over a year ago.
By clearing out the lungs and nasal passages, halotherapy has another indirect benefit—it can help your sleep. If you're not getting good quality rest due to sleep apnea or snoring, halotherapy might be all that's standing between you and a good night’s rest. It can also reduce stress levels, says Gordon, who claims a 20 minute session in the cabin provides an opportunity to pause and reflect—
“It is insane how relaxing halotherapy is once you are in there. It lowers your stress levels and releases a lot of the tensions you’ve built up throughout the day. It gives you kind of a reset and allows the body to reconnect and regroup.”
You can wear your regular clothing for halotherapy (the salt doesn't stain fabrics), but if you have a skin condition, you might want to expose some flesh. Studies have shown that the salty air has a calming effect on skin complaints like psoriasis, acne and eczema.
Both floating and halotherapy are suitable for all ages and all conditions, although Gordon does advise people with health conditions consult with their doctors beforehand, and thoroughly research the treatments for themselves. She's had all ages in her halotherapy cabin—from an 18 month old, to a senior in her 80s, and says everyone can experience the benefits.
She invites anyone who's curious to see for themselves and to give it a go, saying—“Take a tour [of the facilities] because it helps to see what it looks like. Ask questions and learn about it. Then try it. Once you try it, you're not likely to look back.”
Catherine Morris is an award-winning journalist with a bad case of wanderlust and a passion for all things health and wellness. Originally from Northern Ireland, she worked as a news and feature writer for media outlets in the UK, South Africa, France and the Caribbean before settling in Canada. Catherine now lives in Alberta with her husband and rescue mutt and spends her time happily exploring the great outdoors with both.