Pass the Salt – A Chronic Pain Alternative?

Pass the Salt – A Chronic Pain Alternative?

By Joanna Mechlinski.

There’s just nothing like a day at the beach. Whether you’re a child or an adult, actively swimming or simply sunbathing, chances are you’ll feel exhausted by the afternoon’s end. Your appetite’s stimulated and overall you just feel…good.

Unfortunately, most of us can’t spend as much time at the beach as we’d like. Maybe we live too far away; maybe our condition renders us unable to sit in the sun. Thankfully, there’s a treatment called halotherapy (or simply dry salt therapy) which allows people to reap similar benefits.

Joanna Mechlinski

Overall, halotherapy is said to help detoxify the body, to support immune, nervous and lympathic system functioning, as well as reducing stress, increasing lung capacity and energy, and providing a better quality of sleep.

With halotherapy, you book a session – usually about 40 minutes long – at a spa that tries to replicate a Himalayan salt cave. When I learned there was a salt cave only about 15 minutes’ drive from my home, I was excited. A friend with lupus had tried it, and she swore the therapy helped with her illness-related fatigue. Having not only lupus but also rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, I am no stranger to living with permanent exhaustion. I’m always on the lookout for something, anything, that might help make my daily life a little easier. So I booked an appointment, figuring I had nothing to lose.

The “cave” Is literally a small dimly-lit room, kept at a comfortable 70 degrees and surrounded by tons of salt rock. You relax in a comfy beach-type chair, soft instrumental music playing in the background meshing with the faint sound of the halogenerator outside the room, grinding more dry salt and pumping microparticles back into the air. (As I breathed I became aware of a salty taste in my throat and nasal passage, almost as though I’d gotten dunked in the ocean.)

Above my head was a patch of dark “sky” filled with twinkly lights, much like a planetarium; below my feet was sand, into which I could dig my feet even though I was required to put on special cloth “socks.”

What’s more, the salt contains magnesium – the same mineral found in Epsom salts, which many swear helps alleviate their muscle and joint pains. I suffer from pain in both my muscles and joints regularly, but can’t get in and out of a tub easily, so an alternate means of getting similar benefits was especially welcome.

Per the spa’s recommendation, I arrived for my appointment wearing loose, comfortable shorts and a t-shirt, in order to allow the salt particles to reach as much of my bare skin as possible. As I sat back in my lounge chair, I was handed a blanket, though I found it unnecessary. Apparently many people actually fall asleep during their sessions; while I did indeed quickly become relaxed, I remained awake.

The time passed quickly. I left feeling a bit tired, which only increased, so that an hour later, I felt desperate to take a nap.  But at the same time, I did feel more mentally clear.

In the following days, I also noted feeling more energized…not hugely, but as I said initially, I’m willing to take any step in the right direction that I can get, no matter how small. It’s important to note, however, that I only had one session; the attendant at the spa said they have regular clients who come anywhere from weekly to monthly, depending on their situations. With that in mind, I definitely plan to return soon.

Joanna promises to fill us in on her follow-up trips.

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Authored by: Joanna Mechlinski

Joanna Mechlinski is a former newspaper reporter who now works in education. She is a chronic pain sufferer who lives in Connecticut and is a frequent contributor to the National Pain Report. You can follow her on twitter @castlesburning.

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Hi Joanna. Thanks a lot for sharing your journey with Halotherapy. My husband grew up near the beach and now we live in the hills. It looks like a great way to soak up the salts!

Ann E Stickel

There is a salt room a good 45 minute drive from me but I went with a friend to check it out. We both felt a distinct benefit from it and have returned several times. It’s hard to describe except an increased sense of well being. I have dozed off on a couple of occasions. Kay S. have never experienced any eye irritation like you describe. Wonder if the halogenerator wasn’t working right or angled wrong into the room.


To Stacie Wagner, you are not alone my friend. I am fully disabled with 5 debilitating back diseases and just lost me Dr after 7 years. I am a single mother to a 7 year old and without those meds I cannot function. Even laying in bed is so painful its all you can focus on. I began seeing a chiropracter in h.s. from back pain so what I set this up for 25 years so I could score some painkillers? Seems to be the entire nation’s way of thinning these days. They are buying what this administration is selling because even the cdc says the number of overdoses of legally prescribed opiates had dropped. The alarming rate they call a crisis is because they add in heroin overdoses and illegally obtained opiates. Outs a fake epidemic and yet millions are suffering so bad. But they will not push us out as though were garbage!!! Hold on and fight this, don’t go down like they want and expect us to. Stay strong and know you are among many. Pray a new administration comes in and makes sense of this.


Sounds great..wish I could afford a day at the spa..on my income its only a dream. Wish they would just leave the Dr’s alone and let them treat people the way they need. Then we wouldn’t need alternative methods.

Kay Sodowsky

My experience with a salt room wasn’t nearly as positive, although it did seem to refresh my sinuses for a day or so. If only we’d been provided with goggles! As I was driving home from the salt room, my eyes began burning and itching. Rubbing them was a big mistake and I almost pulled off the road because I couldn’t see. I spent the rest of the evening rinsing my eyes and using eye drops to clear the salt irritation from my eyes. I loved the zero gravity chairs, but having salt blow into my eyes, not so much. Never again.

Stacie Wagner

Too many people believe that chronic pain patient’s are addicted to pain medication. I would argue the opposite. Too many people are ready to villianize pain management patient’s. Too many times I have been accused of drug seeking. I am not interested in seeking drugs! I am interested in management of my pain. I am currently searching for a doctor because I have been dropped by my doctor of 15 years because the government is interfering with their ability to take care of patient’s like me. Much research shows that if a patient is in chronic pain they do not form addiction centers in the brain. Why doesn’t anyone talk about this? My pain is a living nightmare! I don’t know how much longer I can hold on. Help us victims of pain, please stop revictimizing us. Thank you. I have no life worth living and no one cares. From hell on Earth in Arizona.


This sounds encouraging. Also the 1st part of my life i was blessed to live in a beach community and those where my happiest days ever, that is before I was saved when I gave my life to Jesus is the best decision I’ve. EVER DONE.


This sounds interesting. I have fibromyalgia and all my joints hurt as well. I am willing to try almost anything to help myself go through each day with less pain and exhaustion. Your article was great and I felt a connection to you. Thank you for the good read.


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I get it,but my severe chronic pain cause after a real end vehicle crash ending at the surgery table then 12 screws 4 on my neck and 8@ my lower back,now to exacerbate pain according the surgeon more screws is needed ok back then after this open back surgery a year after has to reopen my back to remove the screws atttached to hip bone has be removed. Now a Salt water is going good to help to seize the pain that’s a far outcry to really believe those dreams. Well you the best.

Christine Sparks

Thank you so much for spending your energy writing this interesting piece. I had heard about this therapy, but now feel very well informed and able to make a decision! Thanks for sharing a bit of yourself with us and best of luck in your journey.

Jessica Reible

Interesting, I have tried a salt room and I would say it definitely helps with allergies. However, several sessions are needed.
It also helps your complexion if you get break outs, have skin issues.

It never helped with my fibro pain or muscular pain.

It is relaxing…maybe just because it is quiet & they have gravity chairs in the room?