Jessica Gamble’s respiratory problems were the inspiration for the business she opened with her husband, John Hugues, in July of this year. In its first four months, Adirondack Breathe Easy Salt Cave in Peru has had about 800 visitors. Gamble believes halotherapy — an alternative treatment that involves breathing salt particles in the air — has increased her quality of life and improved her health.
To deal with the asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) she suffered with for 12 years Gamble took a number of medications and yet, she still ended up in the emergency room a few times each year. She suffered side effects from her medications and started researching alternative therapies. A visit to a salt cave in Vermont a few years ago was such a positive experience she started traveling there twice a week. Convinced the therapy was helping, Hugues suggested they build one in Peru.
The couple researched, designed and constructed a 300-square-foot space on the Bear Swamp Road and imported 20,000 pounds of salt from the Himalayan Mountains. The pink-hued rock is laid in tile form with crushed stone in the flooring and it lines the walls. There is a beautiful salt brick fireplace on the far side of the room. The ceiling is the only part of the room that is not made of salt. An illumination of the night sky in the ceiling allows visitors to relax and enjoy the salt cave environment.
Visitors leave their shoes in the lobby area and slip on paper booties before entering. They then relax in a zero-gravity chair surrounded by dimmed lights and nature-inspired music for a 45-minute session all the while breathing in the salt-infused air. Group sessions are offered as are private rentals. Many customers come in weekly or bi-weekly. Play sessions for children aged 1-9 are held on Sunday mornings.
Halotherapy is believed to be effective because the salt rocks have 84 trace minerals in them and release negative ions that help purify the air. Gamble explained its use traces back centuries. As early as the 1800s it was noted that miners in the Himalayas had less incidence of breathing problems and sickness and it was attributed to the salt.
The therapeutic properties of salt are that it is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antimicrobial, and it is a natural anti-inflammatory. It is thought to be helpful for people with asthma, bronchitis, allergies, COPD, migraines, depression, and anxiety. Halotherapy is a complementary therapy so it is meant to be used in addition to medical treatment. The therapy has been gaining in popularity and has been endorsed by Dr. Mehmet Oz on The Dr. Oz Show, but has not yet been widely endorsed by the medical community although it has been practiced in Europe since the 1840s and for centuries in the Himalayas. Regular visits to the salt cave have helped Gamble, who used to suffer from chronic shortness of breath. “With regular visits to the cave I estimate I am at least 50 percent better,” she said. “It helps with my breathing, pain and inflammation.”
Gamble and Hugues are pleased to be able to offer the treatment that has been so beneficial to their family to members of their community. They believe the technology “builds the immune system, balances pH and electrolytes, reduces pain and inflammation. It is not a cure, but it does help alleviate a lot of symptoms. Medicines have a lot of side effects and this is a natural health benefit.”