Salt's healing properties offer a solution to breathing problems

We are constantly being told that salt is bad for us, but one Yorkshire businessman is proving that's not necessarily the case.

Steve Stubley opened the North's first salt cave six months ago in the unlikely location of a second floor former office in Dewsbury.

Entering Salt Cave Yorkshire, you could be entering any small office complex. There are a few salt-related ornaments in the reception and some leaflets, but other than that you could be visiting the dentist or even the insurance broker.

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But once upstairs it is a different matter.

Steve has transformed one of the offices into a salt cave. There is salt on the walls, on the ceiling and couple of inches deep on the floor and it is even in the air, although the particles are so small you cannot see them.

The idea, which comes from Eastern Europe, is that the inhaled salt has healing properties for asthmatics and others with respiratory problems.

The Salt Cave uses a machine, housed separately from the therapy room, that produces a microclimate of very fine salt particles which are inhaled.

There's no noticeable difference to the air when you first enter the room, although by the end of a

45-minute session you can taste it on your lips.

The man behind Yorkshire's first salt cave, businessman Steve Stubley, 51, has suffered from mild respiratory problems all his life. "In 19th century Poland, it was discovered that salt miners rarely had any respiratory problems," explains Steve.

"As a result in Eastern Europe, people with respiratory problems have long sought relief in salt caves – either real or artificial. I did some research and was amazed to find how big it was out there."

One theory is that salt's antiseptic properties help fight bacteria.

For people like Tracey Blackburn and her five- year-old son Callum,

why it works isn't really important, it is just the fact that it does.

Callum started to suffer severe asthma when he was just two. He has to take a steroid inhaler twice a

day and has missed a lot

of school.

"Over the winter he is particularly bad," says his mother, Tracey from Batley.

"A few weeks ago, he suffered a really bad attack and ended up in hospital again, and he would normally need five days off school after that. I had heard about the salt cave and I thought we'd give it ago.

"He had the attack on the Monday, had his first treatment on the Tuesday and was back at school the next day, I couldn't believe

it. It seemed to really help

his breathing."

Since then Callum has had the recommended 10 sessions, normally after school and he hasn't had an asthma attack since.

Tracey says she has found the sessions relaxing as well. "On a couple of occasions we have both fallen asleep. It is very relaxing, the lights are very dim and the music really help you to relax. "

Keith Atkins, 69, decided to give the salt cave a go in preparation for a heart bypass. "The doctors said they wouldn't do the operation until my breathing was sorted out," says Keith.

"I have always been fit and healthy, playing badminton and squash and cycling. But then 10 years ago I started with asthma and my breathing has got steadily worse."

Keith says a course of sessions in the salt cave has improved his breathing and he is able to get on his bike again and is waiting for a date for his heart bypass.

Steve, from Mirfield, says "We don't diagnose here and I wouldn't ever suggest people stop taking their medication, but we are finding that it helps alleviate people's symptoms."

The benefits of halotherapy

n Halotherapy consists of relaxing in an artificial salt cave environment and inhaling the controlled dry salt aerosol microclimate. The minute activated dry salt particles are transported to all parts of the lungs and respiratory tract, and absorbs and destroy bacteria and infection. This is then removed from the body by coughing, or the normal metabolic process via the blood stream.

Halotherapy is the only treatment that eliminates the cause of inflammatory illnesses by restoring natural health to the body's tissues.

Salt contains known anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The tiny particles of salt aerosol can reach very deeply into the lower parts of the lung, where breathing difficulties originate for many people.The salt absorbs bacteria and clears away mucus that blocks the airways, and restores the mucosa (tissue lining) to health.

Treats: Allergies – eg, hay fever, chronic bronchitis, colds and influenza, eczema and dermatitis, pharyngitis, chronic ear, nose and throat illness, rhinusitus, sinusitis, smoker's cough, snoring, stress.

A course of ten 45- minute sessions costs 150, 10 per 30-minute session for children. For more information, visit www.yorkshiresaltcave.co.uk or telephone 01924 460824.