Expand your massage practice by offering halotherapy, a technique that exposes clients to inhaled salt, which, research suggests, can provide health benefits.
The benefits of a salted environment were discovered in the early 19th century by Feliks Bocszkowski, a Polish physician who observed that salt miners had significantly fewer severe respiratory ailments, and looked much younger for their age, than coal or metal miners. He concluded these miners must be breathing in naturally healthy particles embedded in the salt caves. After Bocszkowski’s discovery, going to salt mines and caves for healing purposes became popular throughout Europe. Halotherapy was further developed in the former Soviet Union in the late 1970s, and was offered exclusively in medical facilities.
Today, technology has allowed halotherapy to become more comfortable and conveniently accessible to clients seeking the benefits of salt—without needing to travel or venture into underground caves. In North America, halotherapy is growing as a go-to technique for relieving a number of respiratory, skin and health conditions.
You may be familiar with the use of wet salts in baths, scrubs and neti pots. Halotherapy uses dry salt, which has the ability to absorb and gives the body a way to cleanse naturally. Wet salt treatments are beneficial, but wet salt crystals are already saturated with moisture and so can’t offer the same results as dry salt.
How a Session Works
During a basic halotherapy session, the client sits, clothed, in a comfortable chair in a closed room while a small electronic device, the halogenerator, grinds pure, dry sodium chloride into microscopic particles and disperses them into the air to be inhaled and absorbed by the skin. Salt rooms can vary in size, typically from 100 to 400 square feet, and depending on size could accommodate several clients at once. The therapist can opt for beds or booths for a more personalized experience. Some massage therapists offer halotherapy as part of a massage session, with the halogenerator located in the treatment room.
Because dry salt is super-absorbent, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, it acts as a sort of toothbrush for the lungs, loosening mucus and cleansing away bacteria that has built up, while also improving skin’s appearance by boosting its micro-circulation, eliminating bacteria and supporting new cell production. If a client visits a salt room frequently, halotherapy can provide relief for respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and cystic fibrosis. It’s also proven helpful for people with eczema, psoriasis and acne; and those recovering from cosmetic surgery. Research, including a 2009 study in European Respiratory Journal, “Dry sodium chloride aerosol against acute respiratory infections,” and “Prospects of Halotherapy in Sanatorium-and-Spa Dermatology and Cosmetology” (Kurortnye Vedomosty, 2006), supports halotherapy’s health benefits.
While halotherapy is safe for most clients, there are certain health situations for which it is contraindicated, such as in people with very severe respiratory or heart problems. Be sure to do a thorough client intake. If a serious condition is present, advise clients to check with their physician before receiving halotherapy. As with any modality you plan to offer, be sure to check your local or state laws to ensure salt therapy is within your scope of practice, and obtain continuing education if required.
Building and Marketing a Salt Room
Adding salt therapy to your practice is relatively simple. Virtually any closed room can be converted to a salt room, though the room needs fixed ceilings, and there are special requirements regarding ventilation and proper placement of the halogenerator. For this reason, many companies that sell halogenerators also offer professional setup and training. The average halogenerator costs about $6,500. The fee you can charge per session can range from $15 to $60, based on the size of your space and the number of clients you can handle.
As a technique, halotherapy is easy to market to clients, as it’s convenient and affordable for any budget. Clients can spend less than $50 to come in for a quick session on their lunch break or before a night out. It can also make a great add-on for before or after a massage, or as part of a special package paired with other services.
About the Author
Ülle Pukk, along with her partner, Leo Tonkin, are cofounders of the Salt Therapy Association (www.salttherapyassociation.org), a nonprofit trade organization providing research, education and innovation for the salt therapy industry. An industry pioneer and expert, Pukk has trained more than 50 facilities in providing salt therapy to consumers worldwide.
Neither the author/s nor MASSAGE Magazine assumes responsibility for the application of any technique. Readers must ensure they have completed the training necessary to safely and effectively perform any technique mentioned on www.massagemag.com.