Salt Caves - any thoughts?

Over the last month I've been going through a really bad asthma crisis. When someone mentioned that there was an artificial salt cave not far from me, I thought it was worth a go. I am in a tailing off period with my oral steroids and thought it might be a good time to try it. Other people seemed to rave about them and I've felt so fed-up and ill lately that I thought it was something positive to do.

Your first session is free. The first thing that struck me was the pseudoscience. The person who spoke to us seemed to have a really dodgy understanding of physiology and made some pretty grandiose claims for salt caves. He told me I wouldn't need to bring my inhaler in, advice I ignored as I thought it was potentially dangerous in my current condition.

It's very relaxing, sitting there listening to the sound of waves crashing and gulls keening and I decided to ignore the 'woo' and see how it went. My mother came with me who has no respiratory problems and there was another person in there who has aspergillus

My lungs felt a little bit tight when I was in there but by the time I got home they were much worse. I ended up having to nebulise twice yesterday and I actually felt I'd taken a retrograde step. I could see when I was in there that it really seemed to be helping the other person but it's a different situation.

I would be very reluctant to go again although I read all sorts of claims for the process online. I felt that rather than calm my lungs down, it set me back quite a bit. Of course, this could be because I've started reducing my oral steroid dose and it could be that this is just how I am at the moment.

I think there needs to be more robust research which is properly peer evaluated. A lot of asthmatics will try it out because they want something to work for them and long periods of steroids make you feel crap. I want to warn other asthmastics to be careful though. Asthma is a complex condition for which I don't believe there's a simple approach. I wish there was with all my heart because I know only too well how demoralising it all is. It makes me cross that commercial concerns could be putting asthmatics at risk. I think the motivation for the franchise owners may be honourable but unless you really understand the physiology of respiratory illness, you should not give advice.

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  • Hi JennyA

    Thanks, that's very useful info as I've been trying to decide whether to go to one again near my house. I've been once before when a friend bought me a session on Groupon but that was several years ago and I wasn't as severe then. I was OK but didn't notice any benefits.

    It does sound like your chest was sensitive from steroid reduction and the salt brought the attack on, that's not great at all and puts me off.

    I wonder if anyone else has tried it?

  • Hi Printess I wish I could be more positive about it. I feel they need to be more mindful of how dangerous asthma is. I'm sure I don't have to tell other asthmatics how annoying it is when people who know nothing about asthma tell you that if you relax/stop being uptight/breathe into a bag/open a window etc you'll feel better. I'll relax when I don't feel like I'm suffocating thank you very much.

  • Interestingly I too I seem to be in a similar situation to you. Each time I start to reduce steroids my Asthmas seems to flare up again, I'd do anything to feel normal!! Whatever that is. Had a set back awaiting to see consultant myself.

    I too considered Salt Cave last year but was a little hesitant as the unknown aspect, but a friend told me you can buy Salt pipes from holland and Barrett health shop.

    I tried these for awhile last year not knowing if they helped really.

    Difficult call.

    Good luck. Hope you feel better really soon.

  • Very interesting. My son who is a severe asthmatic went into a salt cave but said it made no difference. I remember asking his then consultant about vitamins and he said 'won't do any harm, won't do any good'. That sums up alternative treatments I think! Except in your case the salt cave actually made you feel worse. I agree with you that commercial concerns should rein in when making unsubstantiated claims about helping asthmatics. Asthma is a complex and potentially life threatening condition.

  • I would be surprised if a one-off visit would make much difference. You would probably have to live in the cave to notice any effect! You can buy salt inhalers, which I am trying at the moment. It is supposed to help in the long term, but I have been using for only a fortnight, so nothing noticeable yet. Might be worth a try at considerably less cost than a cave visit!

  • Hi I am new to this blog but thought I might be able to help find an alternative approach to preventing flare ups. I tried a salt pipe a few years ago & decided that although it may have a placebo effect and help you to breathe more calmly it was not going to cure me. Probiotics have been a complete gamechanger for me. Over 40 years of being chronic asthmatic enduring 4/5 chest infections a year(With all the appropriate meds. including anti-biotics and Prednisolone) led me to study both anecdotal & clinical evidence for a natural cure.Taking probiotics has meant I have had no chest infections for the last 2 years; my lung function has nearly doubled and I no longer fear winter.I would recommend anyone to consult their health professional about probiotics and other vital supplements like vit. D. My hope is to spread the word that anyone can cure their condition by just doing sensible lifestyle adjustments. good luck everybody.

  • I too tried a salt cave in a time of desperate measures as my asthma was really terrible. I have severe and brittle asthma and was taking bad attacks very frequently. I hadn't had an attack in about 3 weeks and I went to try a salt cave. The session was so relaxing I actually fell asleep in there. The man told me that for a brittle asthmatic it could take up to 8 sessions for me to feel better and after the first 1 or 2 I would be coughing up a lot of phlegm and that that's a good sign. And I really did cough up a lot of phlegm, and my asthma was a lot worse, just 2 days after the session I had another very bad attack and was hospitalised.

    I then a couple months after this decided it might have just been bad timing and I probably didn't give it as good a chance as I should have but as the sessions are expensive i decided I would give a salt inhaler a go. And just my luck a few days after using this and again coughing up a lot of phlegm, I ended up back in hospital.

    So it may well have been no coincidence that your asthma got worse after the salt cave I am afraid!

  • I have written somewhere else on the forum about salt caves. I had a very similar experience to JennyA. After 30 minutes I took a headache (maybe coincidental, not sure), then I had a heavy feeling in my lungs, felt agitated and had slight difficulty breathing at that point. Following the treatment my breathing became more laboured and by the time I got home, I was using my inhaler many times!!! To put it mildly. It was all very distressing and I would never go back and risk this happening a 2nd time. I understand it works for many people but clearly some people have had a bad reaction to this. Whatever people decide to do or feel about Salt Caves, I would emphasise it is important to have an inhaler with you at all times during this treatment - just incase! Unfortunately I didn't have mine with me in the treatment room but no worries in the future as I won't be going back!!!!

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