Do Himalayan Salt Inhalers Really Work?
Published Oct 1, 2020
Himalayan salt had been gaining a lot of popularity lately due to its many supposed health benefits. From salt lamps to bath salts and salt inhalers, it seems like everyone just can’t get enough of these pink gems.
But we’re hardly the first generation to discover and take advantage of the salt’s health benefits. The ancient Greeks and Romans beat us to it by a few thousand years. They used salt to treat various respiratory and skin diseases. In fact, it was such an important commodity then that it was used to pay Roman soldiers.
In modern history, the use of salt in breathing therapies was almost an accident. A doctor in Poland discovered that people who hid in salt caves during World War II had healthier respiratory systems than most. Before this, another Polish doctor observed that unlike coal mine workers, salt miners had healthier lungs and rarely get sick.
This discovery led to the inclusion of halotherapy in modern medical treatments. As an alternative treatment, halotherapy involves sitting in a man-made salt cave and just breathing in the salty air. But if you’re not a fan of nor have the time to sit and smell salt for hours, a Himalayan salt inhaler makes a good alternative.
What is a Himalayan Salt Inhaler?
Also known as salt pipes, Himalayan salt inhalers are designed for the user to take in mineral-rich microscopic salt particles directly into their lungs. They’re usually made of either ceramics or plastic.
The ceramic one often has a cylindrical body with a flat bottom and a narrow beak-like opening. When you inhale through this opening, the moisture in the air picks up very tiny salt crystals. This travels to your windpipe and directly into your lungs.
Technically, you can put any type of salt into your inhaler. But many people prefer and recommend Himalayan salt.
If you’re not familiar with Himalayan salt, it’s a type of salt mined in the Punjab region of Pakistan. Just like your regular table salt, it has about 98% sodium chloride. The rest are trace amounts of various minerals which gives it that signature pinkish tint.
How Does It Work?
As mentioned, salt therapy has plenty of purported benefits. But how does it work exactly?
As mentioned, Himalayan salt inhalers deliver salt particles directly into your lungs. In this microcrystalline state, salt has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. But unlike regular salt, Himalayan salt particles also contain minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Aside from this, salt also emits negative ions. If you’re not familiar with it, negative ions are invisible, odorless, and tasteless molecules. They’re abundant in certain environments like the beach, mountains, and waterfalls. These ions are thought to increase our levels of serotonin – one of the so-called happy hormones. This gives the salt it’s stress-relieving and mood-stabilizing properties.
If you search online, various sites claim that Himalayan salt inhalers have plenty of health benefits. But most of them are yet to be substantiated by science. Hence, we are using the term “purported”. According to these claims, Himalayan salt:
- cleanses the respiratory system
- purifies the air
- regulates immune responses
- helps you breath better by clearing away excess mucus from your windpipes
- relieves stress
- alleviates depression
- improves sleep
- decreases inflammation
Unlike other alternative treatments, there are few studies that explore the healing effects of Himalayan salt. And the ones that did churn out inconclusive results.
In 2007, a study was conducted to determine the efficacy of dry salt inhaler therapy against chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The researchers concluded that dry salt inhaler therapy might be a good supplementary treatment for COPD. But further studies have to be conducted for more conclusive results.
Another study in 2013 explored the effects of halotherapy on people with bronchiectasis. Results suggest that it didn’t have any significant effects on the patients’ pulmonary function or quality of life.
If you’re asthmatic, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) suggest that salt therapy is generally safe for you. But it won’t likely improve your condition.
So, Does It Work?
According to people who swear by it, Himalayan salt inhalers can work wonders. But scientific evidence remains scarce. So if you’re looking to use the salt inhaler, it’s always best to first consult your doctor.
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