Monday, 24 September 2012

Halotherapy: a pinch of nonsense?

My first subject on this blog is a result of an enquiry we encountered a while ago at work. I had never in my life heard of halotherapy, or "salt cave therapy" as its also known.

What does halotherapy involve? well, at first glance it appears to be mainly sitting on an Ikea chair in a room for an hour. Actually, on second glance, it appears to be the same. For the privilege of doing this, you pay £35 a hour.

I'm over simplifying, of course. According to The Salt Cave's website:

"The healing microclimate of a natural salt mine is recreated  inside a therapeutic salt room using the Breeze Tronic Pro medical device pharmaceutical grade salt is finely milled and accurately mixed with a regulated current of air, which is then evenly dispersed throughout the salt room.Breeze Tronic Pro is programmed to synchronise particle size, concentration, room temperature and humidity and to maintain the optimum, therapeutic environment for each client."

The website then helpfully goes on to tell us about all the other conditions that halotherapy can be used for: asthma, COPD, acne, ADHD, and various other ailments. It's packed with testimonials using words like 'miracle' and recommendations, but sadly lacking in anything like useful clinical information. We are told that: The clinical state of 85% of the patients with mild and moderate bronchial asthma, 75 % with severe bronchial asthma, 98%- with chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis improved after Salt Therapy. The patients were examined 6 and 12 months after the first Salt Therapy course.
But of course there is no reference cited to have a good look at where they've gotten their figures from.

So let's think about this. I'm not that hot anymore on inhalation formulations (university was a long, long time ago folks), but i do remember than inhalation therapy was quite a complex area. Could sitting in a room with some salt on the walls really have all these health benefits? I can see the point of a steam room type situation (especially as I sit here typing with a cold, thinking how lovely a steam room would be), but a dry room?

I'm going to have a bit of a look into it, and get back to you. (That's how we medicines information pharmacists roll). In the meantime... Those Ikea chairs... I just can't take it seriously. I could always be wrong, of course.