BY BARB BERGGOETZ
Laura Chaiken likens the experience of visiting the Bloomington Salt Cave to getting “a nice big pink hug.” Visitors are surrounded by four tons of pink Himalayan salt on the walls and floor, 500 twinkling lights on the ceiling, and the quiet sounds of nature.
Laura and her husband, Chris Martin, designed the 225-square-foot salt cave, located at 115 N. Madison St., after visiting one in Ashville, North Carolina. “It made us feel good, so we wanted to share it with our community,” says Laura. There are two other salt caves in Indiana, one in Warsaw and one in Indianapolis. There are about 130 nationwide.
Chris, a carpenter who constructed the cave, says its restorative salt air microclimate is a “positive force—a place where you can be less stressed, peaceful, and calm.”
But the Unionville couple say a salt cave can be more than just a relaxing escape—it can enhance overall health and wellness. They studied dry salt therapy and found research that claims salt caves are especially helpful to athletes and singers, as well as to those suffering from asthma, allergies, bronchitis, sinus and respiratory problems, and skin conditions like acne.
Dry salt therapy, called halotherapy, originated in the 1840s in salt mines in Europe and Russia, where doctors noticed positive health effects, states the website of the Florida-based Salt Therapy Association. In today’s salt caves, halogenerators crush pure sodium chloride and create a dry salt aerosol, which is absorbed through the skin and breathed into the respiratory system.
Chaiken and Martin say micron-sized salt particles stimulate an anti-inflammatory response, reducing irritation in airways and thinning mucus in bronchial tubes and lungs. Their cave, with salt from Pakistan, uses a continuous fresh air exchange system, making it an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-microbial microclimate. Laura explains that the aerosol acts like a scrub brush on the lungs and respiratory system, absorbing allergens and toxins, and increasing overall oxygen flow.
Visitors relax in zero-gravity chairs or rest on blankets on the floor, which is covered with soft salt crystals. A typical session lasts 45 minutes and costs $25. The cave is designed for about six people and groups can rent the entire space. For more information, visit bloomingtonsaltcave.com.