DEC. 10, 2010 -- In the past, the only things salty about St. Louis were the roads and wraps at area spas. But now, salt lovers can rejoice, or at least rejuvenate, at the new St. Louis Salt Room.
The Salt Room, which opened on Dec. 3 in Maplewood, is one of seven salt rooms in the United States, according to co-owner Clay Juracsik. His salt room follows the principles of "halotherapy," or salt therapy. "In salt therapy, very small amounts of high quality salt, in the form of a completely natural dry aerosol, penetrate the deepest portions of the lungs and the skin..." according to the company's website. Negatively charged ions are also released by the Dead Sea and Himalayan salts that cover every surface of the salt room. These ions are cleansing and uplifting, Juracsik said.
Juracsik and his wife, Lena, who is from Russia, were familiar with salt rooms, which are common throughout eastern Europe. The couple began researching salt rooms to help alleviate their daughter's asthma symptoms. Their daughter, Stasya, 9, has been receiving salt therapy for the past two weeks.
"A course would take a full month," Juracsik said. "But she already reports that she feels much better. She used to grab her medicine and now she's starting to skip it."
Kids are welcome in the Salt Room, and they are even encouraged to play in the salt that lines the floor like a large sandbox.
Juracsik recommends salt therapy for a variety of respiratory, skin and psychological ailments. "Salt opens airways and cleanses. It's an anti-inflammatory," he said.
While the Salt Room website links to several studies on salt therapy, pediatric pulmonologist Lee Choo-Kang tempers a bit of the excitement. "Bottom line is that there is very little data available to support halotherapy. At the same time, I cannot discount the possibility of its purported benefits."
"A patient or parent of a child considering halotherapy for asthma or other chronic respiratory disorder should be evaluated by a pulmonologist prior to undergoing this treatment so that any improvement, lack of benefit or deterioration can be objectively documented," said Choo-Kang, a St. John's Mercy Children's Hospital physician. "Furthermore, while this treatment may improve clinical asthma and other chronic respiratory disease, it may not completely replace the need for medication."
A 45-minute session in the Salt Room is $35.
The St. Louis Salt Room
2739 Sutton Blvd., Maplewood, Mo., 63143
Photo courtesy of The St. Louis Salt Room.