speleotherapy2Speleotherapy or underground climatotherapy is an alternative or complementary method of therapy for treating asthma and other respiratory diseases and has been common in Eastern and Central Europe for many, many years.

The therapy involves spending 2-4 hours a day underground, in salt caves or mines, over a two to three month period, but the results are impressive. The salt micro-particles or salt dust, reach the lung alveoli, bronchi, and bronchioles and clear all the airway passages in upper and lower respiratory tract. Due to the fact that the inhaled saline has muco-kinetic, bactericidal, hydrophilic and anti inflammatory properties, it helps to reduce inflammation, causing a widening of the airway passages, kills bacteria and restores the normal transport of mucus, as well as unclogs blockages.

speleotherapy3Although not so-well-known in North America, salt therapy is an old and recommended method of therapy in Eastern Europe. There are many fashionable and popular salt sanatoriums scattered throughout the region, deep within the heart of known salt mines, where medical professionals are involved in clinical research, often at the request of the country’s Health Minister.

A past study describes a speleotherapy treatment, with 100 COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and asthma patients, who spent four hours daily, for six to eight weeks, in treatment. All patients reported improvements, which lasted from six months to seven years (Skulimowski, 1965). Similar studies are published in Pub Med (MEDLINE) from Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Russia.

A more recent clinical study at Pulmonary Clinic, Ambulatory Section, Timisoara, Romania, on with 30 patients (19 Asthma, 11 Chronic Bronchitis), revealed that the use of a speleotherapy device (also called Halotherapy device) for a time period of one year, significantly reduced the sore throat, nasal obstruction, snoring, cough, sputum secretion, associated rhinitis, annual hospitalization and the intake of symptomatic medication. Also demonstrated was significant improvement in sputum elimination, olfactory sense recovery (smell, taste), quality of sleep, morning condition, and overall clinical status.

Another clinical study at Cystic Fibrosis Center, Timisoara, Romania, with eighteen patients suffering from Cystic Fibrosis, using the same inhaler device, showed a significant reduction of sputum secretion and crackles at auscultation and improvement of respiratory functional syndrome, sputum elimination and general clinical state.

In an allergic rhinopathy study, twenty-two poly-allergic patients, suffering from house dust as the main allergen - showed significant reduction of nasal obstruction, sneezing, headache, cough and notable improvement in quality of sleep, serous-mucus rhinorea, sputum consistence and elimination, as well as in their general clinical state.

A clinical study at Otitis Media with sixty-three children sfflicted with ear infection for more than one year, showed marked reduction of moderate and severe clinical symptoms, drug intake, and serous-mucus secretion after tympanotomy with significant improvement in breathing, effort capacity, intellectual capacity, tube tympanic drainage and general clinical state.

Speleotherapy most definitely has proven to be an effective alternative method of therapy as well as a complementary method of therapy. “Alternative” should imply “instead of” western medical procedures, conventional treatments and “complementary” should be “in addition to”, in both cases, with very good results leading to a reduction of antibiotics and corticoids intake and decreasing the rate of annual hospitalization and asthma attacks.