Written by the salt lamps New Zealand team
What is a salt inhaler?
A Himalayan salt inhaler is a unique device. In short, it’s an inhaler that can be used to treat many respiratory illnesses. The basics of how it works are simple, there’s a chamber at the bottom which contains salt crystals, and below that, at the bottom of the device are openings, and at the top there is a tube connected to the chamber.
So, when you breathe in through the tube air is sucked in through the bottom and pulled up through the salt. But don’t worry, you’re not actually inhaling the salt grains themselves as that would be quite unpleasant and even hazardous. You’re simply breathing in salt infused air, with very tiny microscopic salt particles. Look at this picture below which demonstrates this.
The salt particles are carried all the way deep into your lungs down to your bronchi and bronchioles, that’s where they take effect and heal different respiratory ailments. As useful as this device is you’d be surprised at how the healing benefits of salt inhalation were first discovered.
The discovery of salt inhalation
Salt inhalation therapy is not a new discovery, Hippocrates, an ancient Greek philosopher he is often considered the “father of medicine” and he used to regularly steam salt to purify the air and clear his breathing. The ancient Greeks called it “halotherapy” (halo – Greek for salt). The Ayurvedic yogis of India also have passed down medical knowledge in which salt inhalation was used for nose and throat cleansing. But most of this knowledge was forgotten, and around 150 years ago, rediscovered.
In the 1800s a polish doctor, Dr Felix Bochowsky, was examining some polish miners. He noticed that Polish salt miners who worked all day in salt caves had no respiratory problems and better overall health compared to the average person. He also noticed that coal miners were the exact opposite. He believed that it was because of the salty air that salt miners breathed in all day. Unfortunately, his research was put on hold due to world events.
Nevertheless, his efforts weren’t wasted, 100 years later during world war 2, a German doctor by the name Dr. K.H. Spannahel was hiding in a salt cave along with his patients, to get away from the bombing. Here he noticed that his patient’s health problems were healed, ever since then salt “caves” started to pop up all over Europe for treating breathing problems.
This is where the Himalayan salt inhaler comes in, not everybody lives next to the sea where the salt content of the air is high, and not everybody has access to a salt cave or salt room. Luckily, you can bring the salt to you with a salt inhaler. It’s compact so you can carry it anywhere, it’s convenient to use and it’s just as effective as going to a salt cave.
How to use a Himalayan salt inhaler
- Before we get into how to actually use a salt inhaler, it’s important to note that you should always make sure you store your salt inhaler in a dry, clean place for maximum benefit.
- Your salt inhaler will come prefilled with salt, so no additional salt needs to be added.
- For the best results salt inhalers should be used daily for at least 15-20 minutes per day.
- You can do this all in one sitting, or alternatively in multiple sitting throughout the day.
- To use the inhaler, simply place your mouth on the pipe and breathe in through the mouth and out through the nose.
- Take slow and deep breaths in and hold the inhaled salt air for 1-2 seconds before breathing out. This deep breathing technique will help you get the most out of your inhaler. However, if you cannot manage this, breathing normally is also fine. Over time your breathing technique and capacity will naturally expand making it easier to use your salt inhaler.
- With daily use for 15-20 minutes your salt inhaler should last 2 years before you will need to refill your salt.
- When refilling your salt simply open the salt chamber from the bottom of the inhaler and pour your salt inside, it’s as simple as refilling a salt shaker!
- Important: Only use coarse Himalayan salt to refill your salt inhaler as fine salt can be sucked in whilst breathing in, causing irritation and problems.
Salt inhaler benefits
Himalayan salt inhalers provide many health benefits and are considered a great alternative treatment for a number of respiratory conditions. The way this happens is quiet amazing. So here we have the top 10 health benefits of Himalayan salt inhalers.
Relieves and heals sinus problems
The microscopic crystal salt particles you inhale from a salt inhaler penetrate deep into your lungs down to the level of the bronchioles. These particles coat the inner mucosal membrane of the lungs and sinuses, reducing inflammation and thinning the mucous to unblock congested breathing problems.
Reduce swelling and redness
Himalayan salt is a natural anti-inflammatory so whether you apply it directly to your skin or inhale it, it will reduce inflammation. And chronic inflammation can lead to cancer, so this is definitely something you want to prevent!
Kills off harmful microorganisms
Himalayan salt has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. So whenever you inhale it, it also kills off these harmful microorganisms from within your system.
Detoxifies your respiratory system
Mucous is built up in our respiratory system because it helps trap pathogens and contaminants. This mucous is brushed up from our lungs to our throat through tiny hair like arms called cilia that are constantly pushing up the mucous through a repetitive brushing motion. Himalayan salt can help speed up this process by making the mucous thinner and easier to move along. The end result is less contaminants and pathogens in your body as the “used mucous” is constantly expelled.
Reduces mucous build up
Following the previous point, we all know how annoying it can be when we there’s a lot of phlegm constantly present in the base of our throats, and you just have to keep coughing to try to fix it. Well, salt inhalers are great for treating just this issue. Himalayan salt is a microkinetic, which basically means it makes our mucous thinner. The microscopic salt particles land on the inner lining of our lungs and draw in moisture from the epithelial cells. This extra moisture thins out the mucous, which in turn, opens up our airways, reduces mucous build up, congestion in our sinuses, as well as coughing.
Reduces allergic reactions
As well as being antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal, the microscopic Himalayan salt particles that we inhale through a salt inhaler are also antihistamines. They prevent allergic reactions to air pollutants like cigarette smoke or seasonal pollen. And according to the lung institute (link), they also reduce IgE levels (immune system oversensitivity).
Quicker recovery from a cold
The antimicrobial properties of Himalayan salt allow it to kill off harmful bacteria and germs, this helps us recover more quickly from viral infections like the common cold.
Salt pipe inhaler side effects
There are no known side effects of salt inhalers. Unlike regular medications, Himalayan salt is a pure mineral that is extracted and sold direct from the source, without any added chemical agents or chemical processing. Even sea salt and table salt have some chemical processing involved. But the completely natural state of Himalayan salt means that it’s virtually free of side effects.
Are they safe for pregnancies?
We’ve been commonly asked if salt inhalers are okay to use when pregnant. The answer to that is a definite yes, salt inhalers pose no threat whatsoever to a pregnancy.
Do they reduce snoring?
Good question, salt inhalers CAN reduce snoring in many cases since they open up the breathing passages of it’s users’, however for best results it’s a good idea to buy a salt lamp as well and keep it next to your bed. The relaxing effect of the salt lamp and the cleansing effect of the inhaler combined can usually reduce snoring for most users. However, you would have to test it for yourself and see if it works the same way for you, as every individual will have a different level of response to this kind of therapy.
Salt inhalers and COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or “smokers cough” refers to two common respiratory diseases, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Okay, so that sounds like a lot to take in, but keep reading and it will make sense.
Chronic bronchitis is when the inner lining of your respiratory tracts become irritated and inflamed, making them inflexible and narrow. This leads to excess mucous building up and difficulty in breathing.
Emphysema is when your lungs lose the ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide at the alveolar level. Making it hard to pump your blood with fresh oxygen and remove the old carbon dioxide. Both conditions are caused by smoking, hence the name smokers cough.
COPD is a progressive disease, meaning it gets worse with time. However, salt inhalers work wonders for those who suffer from this condition. Many people have reported that regular use of a Himalayan salt inhaler halted the worsening of their COPD and in many cases made their breathing more comfortable and natural again. Since there are no negative side effects, and no risk of overdose when using a salt inhaler, it’s an absolutely risk free alternative treatment that we highly recommend for those with COPD or other breathing illnesses like
- Hay fever
- Whooping cough
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Wheezing and breathlessness
- Sore throat
- And chest infection
With all these benefits, and almost nothing to lose, getting a salt pipe inhaler is something we recommend for anyone who has breathing difficulties. You never know until you try, and if you’re anything like most people who have these difficulties then you’re very likely to see a great improvement. However, remember to use it properly and consistently for the best results.