Halotherapy, a new type of respiratory treatment, is growing in popularity all across the United States, Europe, and Canada. In this new therapy, people go to relaxing spa rooms with soft lighting and pleasant music to breathe in salt. Salt covers the floors and walls of these rooms, and a machine called a halogenerator sends microscopic salt particles floating through the air.

Why breathe salt? According to proponents of halotherapy, breathing salt helps relieve asthma and allergy symptoms.

There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to support these claims. Back in ancient Greece, Hippocrates told his patients to inhale salt water steam as a way to relieve respiratory conditions. For centuries, people have trekked to Eastern Europe’s salt caves which are said to ease respiratory and skin conditions. And in 19th century Poland, doctors noted that salt miners had fewer respiratory illnesses than the rest of the population. Even on our blog we’ve mentioned going to the beach and breathing in the salty ocean air as a cystic fibrosis home remedy.

However, critics consider halotherapy a folk remedy and point out that there “have been no clinical studies of salt therapy in the U.S.”

Nonetheless, many who go to “Salt Spas” say it’s made a major difference in their health and well-being. For example, Angela Kassai struggled with asthma, severe allergies, and sinusitis for years, until a friend from Hungary told her about salt therapy. “After the first session, we saw a huge result,” said Kassai’s daughter, Klaudia Nord. The two now own their own Salt Spa in Silicon Valley.