Salt mines in Eastern Europe, long abandoned as sources of minerals, have taken on a new purpose as thousands of people have begun to seek out “salt therapy.” Huge, cathedral-like chambers of the old salt mines lie almost 1,400 feet underground south of Minsk near Soligorsk in Belarus, and the mine is now a popular medical tourism destination. The Republican Clinic of Speleotherapy (therapy focused on breathing within a cave), located inside the mine, sees more than 7,000 adults and children visit the mine annually, mostly hoping to treat respiratory illnesses.
Praid Salt Mine, 525 feet below the Earth's surface, is also open for medical tourism. Located 215 miles north of Bucharest, it too is mostly sought out by those in need of respiratory treatment for problems such as asthma or bronchitis.
Never willing to lose an opportunity, Americans have mimicked the salt therapy experience of the mines in wellness centers across the country with salt beds, salt chambers, salt rooms, and (of course) salt yoga. You can even sit in a colorfully lit salt booth at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City. The real question here is: does any of this actually work?