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I have suffered with asthma ever since I was a young child and have always needed inhalers to control my condition. In my late teens and early 20's the condition almost went away, but came back with a vengeance when I got married and moved to my present home, which, unfortunately, is right next to the M6 motorway! Since then, I have found that my inhaler use has increased a lot and the condition seems to be particularly bad in the Autumn, when there are more spores in the air.
Because of this, I decided to look and see what alternative therapies are available to help control the symptoms of my asthma, such as wheezing and breathlessness. I read a lot about salt therapy, which has been used effectively in Europe for many years to help asthma sufferers. It was discovered that people working in salt mines found that their asthma symptoms lessened and the conclusion was that this was due to breathing in the salty air down the mine. In countries such as Poland, "Salt Cave Therapy" is offered to asthma patients and they can go down into the caves and breathe in the therapeutic salty air.
As an offshoot of this discovery, "Salt Pipes" became available for those who have no access to a salt mine! A Salt Pipe is not something you smoke. Rather it is a receptacle where you put rock salt crystals and inhale air through them for 15 minutes a day or more to relieve asthma symptoms. Looking on Amazon, there was a lot of positive feedback about Salt Pipe therapy, so I though it would be worth a try. Although there were quite a few different Salt Pipes available, I chose the Salitair, primarily because i didn't think the £15 price tag was too steep and secondly because of reading all the positive feedback.
The pipe itself is actually quite basic, and is made from plastic. All the parts unscrew so that the pipe can be cleaned thoroughly between uses. There is a recepltacle at the bottom where you place the rock salt crystals. This is covered with a filter to prevent small particles being breathed in. Above the filter is a mouthpiece, through which you breathe and this has a small rubber cover to keep it clean when not in use. You should wash and dry the Salitair before the first use.
The Salitair comes with a 3 month supply of rock salt from the Polish salt mines. They recommend that you only use this salt, but then again, they would, seeing as a bottle costs around £7 compared to buying rock salt from Tesco for £1, so I have quite an open mind on the subject! You pour roughly a third of the bottle of salt into the receptacle, screw on the filter and mouthpiece and then you are ready to go.
The Salitair comes with instructions, and you are advised to breathe in normally through your mouth through the mouthpiece. This draws up air through the salt and into your airways. Then you are advised to breathe out through your nose. if you were to breathe out through the mouthpiece, moisture from your breath would cause the salt to get damp. By breathing out through your nose, the salty air can do a complete circuit of the respiratory system and is said to relieve hayfever and sinus problems as well as asthma. It can also be used to relieve the syptoms of colds, although it should only be used by one person in the family for hygiene reasons.
It is easy to incorporate 15 minutes of the salt pipe into a daily routine. I usually use mine when watching TV in the evening, as that is usually when my asthma starts to play up. It is quite therapeutic, and healthier than smoking! Although you are breathing in salt, you can't really taste it and it is safe to use and won't cause you to ingest lots of salt, as most of it is breathed back out again.
The big question-Does it work? Well, I have had the pipe for a week now and used it every day. The biggest problem I have is breathing out through my nose, as it seems permanently blocked at this time of year, so I tend to breathe in, remove the mouthpiece and slowly breathe out. The salt pipe has definitely had an effect on mucus production (sorry if you have just eaten!). Instead of coughing up thick mucus, the mucus is thinner and easier to cough up and there is less being produced. I hope that over time, this will improve further.
I still take my preventer inhalers, but have noticed an improvement to my symptoms, as I am usually gagging for my inhaler at night, whereas I just take the preventer and have not needed the blue reliever at all. I would love to be able to give them up completely, but I would not do so without the advice of my doctor. The salt pipe has been really good though. in fact, it was featured on This Morning, by Doctor Chris Steele, who recommended it for asthma. It is not a cure, but a safe alternative therapy that certainly helps.
The salt pipe can also be used safely by children.