Alternative therapies are gaining traction these days, offering a welcome alternative to traditional Western healthcare treatments. One example of this is salt therapy, an ancient treatment originating in Poland that has now made its way to Music City. Foot & Salt Spa, a salt therapy and reflexology facility now open in Green Hills, is owned by Xiaohua (Ginger) Jiang, who holds a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt and is a biochemistry professor and researcher on cancer biology.

Foot & Salt Spa is conveniently located in the heart of Green Hills.

Foot & Salt Spa is conveniently located in the heart of Green Hills.

For those who are unfamiliar with the setting, a salt room is covered — floor, ceiling and walls — in 4,000 pounds of Himalayan sea salt. The environment replicates that of the salt caves in Eastern Europe where salt therapy originated. In current salt therapy, a halo generator transmits pharmacy-grade sodium chloride in small particles that easily and safely attach to airways, killing bacteria and providing anti-inflammatory benefits.

Used to treat everything from asthma to certain skin conditions, salt therapy is a natural therapy many folks swear by. “We combine the salt therapy, reflexology and zero gravity chair to provide the most relaxing service to our clients,” says Ginger. “When we first opened the spa, we never thought about combining salt therapy and reflexology. When people asked, ‘What do you do in the salt room?’ we started offering reflexology. When people are more relaxed, they benefit from both treatments. And we are the first and only salt spa in the nation to provide reflexology service in the salt room.”

The salt room is covered in salt. Relax in a zero gravity chair and breathe deep.

The salt room is covered in salt. Relax in a zero gravity chair and breathe deep.

I recently enjoyed a complimentary visit to Foot & Salt Spa, and the results were definitely noticeable. At the end of my 45-minute session, I could breathe more easily, which in this season of upper respiratory issues, is a bonus! Plus I found that 45 minutes flew by, along with the day’s stresses. I returned the next week and tried reflexology in the salt room for added benefits, and I felt even more relaxed. My breathing was better, and that night, I slept more soundly than I have in months, with the benefits lasting for several days after my treatment.

If your interest is piqued, here are a few more benefits you may enjoy with salt therapy:

Improved sleep

“I definitely have a much better sleep,” says Timur Borousov, who receives salt therapy at Foot & Salt Spa three to four times per week. “I use a sleep tracker, and I can tell that my ‘deep sleep’ phase has increased dramatically. I used to wake up several times but now it is practically a solid long sleep. I also fall asleep nearly instantly, and before the therapy this was a struggle sometimes.”

Better breathing

“Salt’s anti-inflammatory benefits have been known for thousands of years,” explains Ginger. “The dry salt of the salt room goes all the way into your respiratory system,” which some say is more effective than saline. Salt therapy also abates bronchial inflammation. “With inflammation, cells swell and tissues get bigger. The dry salt helps cells shrink to normal size,” Ginger adds.

Treatment and prevention of the common cold and flu

Salt therapy strengthens the immune system, killing bacteria and pathogens, and it alleviates sneezing, coughing and shortness of breath. “Colds and flu are yet to hit me,” says Timur. “It is November, and my wife and kids have already been through various seasonal things with sore throats, runny noses and fevers — multiple times. I have not had anything at all. I attribute that to the halo (salt) therapy.” (Worth noting, Ginger says salt therapy also has benefited clients who struggle with migraines and ear infections.)

Prevention of overreaction to asthma and allergy triggers

“While there is no cure for allergies, long-term salt therapy can reduce the response of oversensitive immune systems,” says Ginger. She became interested in salt therapy when a friend of hers, a researcher and asthma specialist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, told her about it. As a result and upon further research, Ginger, who previously owned and operated a reflexology spa, added salt therapy to her new facility.

Reduced stress and improved energy

The salt spa is a negative ion environment, replicating the benefit of being in a natural environment — whereas electronics and many indoor environments generate positive ions.  “We have a lot of stress — our bodies are in ‘fight’ position, and we burn out energy,” says Ginger. “Once you relax and are stress-free, your body is different.”

The potential to eliminate sugar cravings

“In my case, sugar cravings are gone nearly completely — and not just for me,” says Timur. “My father-in-law (who I convinced to try the therapy with me), after about 10 sessions, was surprised to share a similar effect. He loves sweet foods and drinks, but he had a sharp drop in interest for them.”

In support,Ginger explains that when the body is under stress and is tired, a hormone called serotonin is low and that “sends out signals for sugar craving.” With improved oxygen, the need for the quick energy fix from sugar subsides.

This could be the cure for what ails you ... salt!

This could be the cure for what ails you … salt!

Improved circulation

Developed by NASA, the zero gravity chair removes all pressure on the spine, which is beneficial for the heart and lungs. The chair allows for the heart to pump more blood to the entire body, which can repair and restore functions.

Improved recovery from symptoms of dermatological disorders

Salt therapy reduces inflammation of both the airways and skin. Skin can “breathe in” salt, so exposure in the spa can help alleviate symptoms of skin disorders such as acne, dermatitis and psoriasis.

An alternative health option

“I also want to help reduce the pill abuse in our society,” says Ginger. “Alternative medicine such as reflexology and salt therapy are scientifically proven to have a therapeutic effect. I want to help people benefit from salt therapy in true zero gravity chairs and offer reasonable prices for salt therapy and salt therapy with reflexology.”

If you’re interested in experiencing salt therapy for yourself, Foot & Salt Spa is located at 4117 Hillsboro Pike, Ste. 104A, Nashville, TN 37215. Call (615) 457-2211 or visit  footsaltspa.com to learn more.

This article is sponsored by Foot & Salt Spa.