PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – White gold – in ancient times, salt was traded ounce for ounce with the precious metal. Roman soldiers were paid in salt.
The Latin word salarium means payment in salt, which we now call salary.
But, on Broad Street in East Liberty, the Peace, Love, Zen Holistic Wellness Center is offering a very different application for salt.
“Actually, a year ago, I had never heard of a salt cave,” owner Susan Coe said.
“Welcome to the Himalayan Salt Cave,” says a disembodied voice as it echoes off the walls.
It’s a soothing and serene setting. It’s a simulated cave sculpted out of eight tons of Himalayan Crystals, which were imported from Pakistan.
“It was phenomenal. It took 450 man hours to create that over two weeks,” Coe said.
“You are about to embark on a journey of wellness and relaxation,” the disembodied voice continues.
Sometimes called Halotherapy, salt caves are believed to reduce inflammation in the body, which addresses health problems as wide-ranging as asthma and bronchitis, skin issues like acne, psoriasis, and eczema. It is also believed to help with depression, digestive complaints, migraines and sleeping disorders.
The center also offers jade and amethyst massage beds with infrared heat and saunas. Salt-related products are also available.
“It’s about learning how to heal your body from the inside out without all the pharmaceuticals. Not putting a bandage on the wound, getting to the source and fixing it,” Coe said.
Stephanie Robinson, who has asthma and allergies, was impressed with her first salt cave experience.
“It’s really keen to be in an environment where you can breathe much easier and the air feels so clean in here,” Robinson said.
Colleen Carr has tried a salt cave in Florida, but said this one’s atmosphere was especially relaxing.
“And I could instantly feel after a couple of breaths – you feel your blood pressure just drop,” Carr said.
A 45-minute session is $30 and Coe, who served in the United States Army, will offer special rates to veterans, active military and senior citizens.
The center is scheduled to open on Sept. 7.
There are not a lot of scientific studies tracking the benefits of salt caves and you should consult your physician before booking a session.