Relax. Take a deep breath. Don’t be alarmed: That’s just salt you’re inhaling. Welcome to a salt cave. It’s one of the latest trends in alternative therapies—the roots of the treatment go back centuries, and halotherapy (aka breathing salty air) is now cropping up in Southwest Florida in spas and stand-alone salt rooms.
For an hour or so, you’ll sit on a reclining chair in a room full of crushed Himalayan salt. It’s on the floor, in the walls and in the air. For example, a ton of rock salt from Pakistan resides in the Himalayan Salt Room in White Orchid Spa in Fort Myers. The lights are dimmed, soft music plays. And that’s it. You sit and breathe in the fine salt particles. Think of it like isolation therapy—perhaps with some additional benefits.
The idea comes from a Polish physician, who in the 1840s discovered that the workers in the Wieliczka Salt Mines in Poland had surprisingly good respiratory health compared to the general population. Since then, doctors have explored the possibilities of the healing powers of salt, including some evidence that seems to indicate inhaling salt particles can help with issues such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Stateside, scientific consensus is hard to come by, but halotherapy is more popular overseas. In fact, the mines remain one of the largest tourist attractions in Poland.
We don’t have natural salt caves so much in Florida, so simulated ones will have to do. If you’d like to check out one, there are a few options.
In Collier County, there’s Salt Therapy Grotto and Salt Cave Naples. In Lee County, along with White Orchid Spa, there’s the downtown Fort Myers Sol of Life (which has a Tibetan-style tea room), and Heart & Soul in Cape Coral. Expect a session to cost between $40 and $50.
Photography EyeEm/Getty Images and Courtesy Salt Therapy Grotto