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I Visited a Salt Room and You Totally Should Too

I couldn't believe how calm I felt after spending 30 minutes breathing in salty air
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Every spring, my allergies hit me full force and I'm a sneezing mess. But I usually stay away from allergy meds because they make me drowsy—and dozing off at my desk is not an option. After doing some research on more natural solutions, I came across something called "dry salt therapy" and decided to book an appointment for it at a spa in NYC. Fans of salt therapy say lying in a room with pink Himalayan salt does everything from make breathing easier to improve eczema to relieve stress.

To be honest, I initially thought it sounded too good to be true, so I went into the experience skeptically—but I came out a believer. Afterward, I asked top docs why pink Himalayan has so many benefits—and immediately booked a second dry salt therapy session. Keep reading to learn what the experts told me about dry salt therapy and what my experience was like.

Image via @breathesaltrooms

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Health Benefits of Pink Himalayan Salt
Salt is actually one of the oldest medical treatments out there. While scientific evidence backing up its health claims is scarce, people swear by it. "In ancient Greece and the Mediterranean, it was used for everything," says Tania Elliot, MD, board-certified allergist and chief medical officer of EHE International. "It helps decrease inflammation and mucus production in nasal passages and sinuses." Hence why it is often recommended for people with allergies or lung issues to breathe in ocean air.

Pink Himalayan salt is thought to be particularly useful. "Pink Himalayan salt is derived from ancient sea salt deposits found deep in the Himalayan Mountains," explains Taz Bhatia, MD, integrative health expert and author of Super Woman Rx. "It's known all over the world for its healing and therapeutic uses for both physical and mental health." It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, says Bhatia, and it helps loosen mucus and clear your airways when you breathe it in.

Elliot points out that pink Himalayan salt absorbs moisture and that's a good thing if you have dust or mold allergies. "If you put pink Himalayan salt in your home, it sucks out moisture," she says. "You want to keep humidity levels down if you have dust or mold allergies because dust mites thrive on moisture and mold likes humid climates."

Image via @breathesaltrooms

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Beauty Benefits of Pink Himalayan Salt
Besides just breathing pink Himalayan salt in, you can also exfoliate with it to alleviate symptoms of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. "Salt makes for a great natural exfoliator to get rid of dead skin cells that can clog pores," says Bhatia. "It's also a natural antiseptic and has detoxifying properties that help draw toxins out of skin." Elliot adds that pink Himalayan salt also helps balance your skin's moisture levels.

Image via @breathesaltrooms

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Mood Benefits of Pink Himalayan Salt
Proponents of dry salt therapy also claim it's major mood-booster. Here's the deal: According to the Salt Therapy Association, the salt crystals release negative ions, which research published in the journal BMC Psychiatry suggests is associated with lower levels of depression. Negative ions are molecules you inhale in environments like the beach and mountains. Think about how at peace you feel when you're lying near the ocean and it makes sense.

Image via @breathesaltrooms

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My Dry Salt Therapy Experience
I arrived at Breathe Salt Rooms in Manhattan and headed to the locker room to get changed. Breathe offers two options: a salt room, where you sit in a lounge chair covered in a blanket with pink Himalayan salt all around you and a salt bed, where you lie on a hard, flat, heated bed enclosed by Plexiglass as salt is pumped into the air.

I chose to try a salt bed because it's private, meaning I could strip down to a tank top and shorts and allow the salt to get to work on the rough, bumpy skin I have on my arms. In both cases, Breathe uses a halogenerator, a device that crushes pink Himalayan salt and disperses it into the air. (A room session is $35; a bed session is $40. So yeah, it's pricey.)

The bed was tiny and I had a jolt of anxiety when I realized I would be encased inside. (I wouldn't recommend this option if you're claustrophobic.) I laid down, closed my eyes and tried to focus on my breathing and not think about the many items on my to-do list that week or the fact that I was confined in such a small space. (You can listen to music while you're in the bed if you want to, but I decided not to.)

The bottom of the bed lit up and changed colors throughout the course of my 25-minute session. Breathe uses chromatherapy (changing ambient lights). Per research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, chromatherapy has been used since ancient Egyptian times. The theory is that different colors have different effects on your mood. For example, white light is supposed to clear your mind and turquoise light is supposed to be de-stressing.

Within a few minutes of being inside the bed, I started to feel really tired—so, apparently, the combination of the colored lights and the salt in the air was working. I rested contentedly until the 25 minutes was up and the lights turned off, then I headed back to the locker room to change.

Image via @breathesaltrooms

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