Monday, July 16, 2012 at 8 a.m.
After gaining popularity in Europe and other parts of the world, the salt-therapy craze has been sweeping the nation. It hits Minneapolis this week with Salt Cave
, the city's first halotherapy center.
So what is halotherapy? Think of it as a trip inside a mine, where the air is thick with salt. The new facility is lined with Himalayan salt rocks, and a special machine infuses the air with tiny particles of pharmaceutical-grade salt. Owners Scott Werkin and Jenni Dorfsman say that the dimly-lit room not only aids in relaxation, but can supplement western medicines for asthma, allergies, cystic fibrosis, and a host of other ailments.
Scott Werkin and Jenni Dorfsman
The Salt Cave is actually a room filled with pinkish rock formations made of Himalayan salt and decorative stalactite-looking papier-mâché. The floor is covered with tiny salt rocks, which massage your feet as you walk toward one of the reclining, springy lawn chairs. The room was designed by Margaret Smiechowski, and assembled by married couple Werkin and Dorfsman. This is their first business.
A warm glow emits through the rocks while pharmaceutical salt is blown through a halogenerator which fills the air with saltiness. As you breathe in, you can feel the thickened air cleansing your lungs.
If you sign up for a session, you basically come in and relax. You can bring your iPad or Kindle, headphones, or whatever else as you breathe in the air.
While salt therapy is not FDA approved, and no peer-reviewed studies have been done in the United States, parts of Europe and Canada include salt therapy as part of their health plans.
Dorfsman found out about helotherapy while the family was on vacation in Florida. One of their sons suffered from asthma, and had to take a nebulizer -- a kind of liquid medicine that is filled with steroids. When she learned about the practice of helotherapy, she was intrigued by the idea of an alternative that could help reduce her son's need for his medicine.
When they returned to Minnesota though, they discovered that no salt therapy business existed in this state; the nearest one was in Chicago. So, the couple decided to open one themselves.
Visitors can sign up for a 45-minute session for $30, with packages and monthly memberships available at discounted rates. Dorfsman says they plan to offer yoga on Saturdays, and kids' storytime on Thursday mornings. The couple may decide to add more programming later on, and people also can book a private session for book clubs or other events.