pink geometric image representing a himalayan salt lamp

Expert Answers: COPD and Himalayan Salt Lamps?

Sometimes, here at COPD.net, a community member will ask a question that could benefit from an expert’s point of view. We’ve heard quite a few times from several community members about their interest in whether or not Himalayan Salt Lamps could be helpful so, we asked our experts:

“What are your thoughts about people with COPD using Himalayan Salt Lamps? I’m thinking of trying one to help with insomnia…”

Response from John

I am familiar with salt therapy mainly because it kept coming up every time I typed in my blog name, so this inspired a post I wrote quite a few years ago. Basically, back in the 18th century it was observed that people who worked in salt mines in Europe did not have respiratory diseases. So this inspired people with respiratory diseases to travel long ways to sleep in these caves. For increased convenience, salt from these caves was made available in various forms, including salt inhalers and salt lamps. Along with respiratory diseases, they were said to cure just about anything, and I would imagine this includes insomnia.

This type of therapy reminds me of when I researched proprietary medicine, which dates all the way back to ancient Rome. I wrote several articles about this on my asthma history blog. The Romans actually referred to it as nostrum remedium, or medicine sold but not tested. This actually became a craze in the 19th century, where you could purchase remedies for just about anything, and usually what you were buying was alcohol. It was also referred to as quack medicine. Today it is referred to as alternative medicine. It is far safer than in the past, mainly due to laws regulating it. Salt therapy, I would imagine, would fall along similar lines. I’m sure it’s safe or it wouldn’t be allowed, and it’s an alternative treatment to try if you want to pay for it. However, my opinion of this type of therapy is that if it really worked doctors would be prescribing it, and no doctor has ever mentioned it to me.

Response from Leon

Himalayan salt lamps are marketed to be hand chiseled solid blocks of what is claimed to be ancient crystal salts. They reportedly have a pink color due to their supposed high concentration of minerals. Their effectiveness is based on the claim they produce a significant amount of negative ions which is supposed to clean the air around them. Amongst other claims they purportedly facilitate falling asleep at night as well as a host of other improvements to your general health and well being.1-3

It’s difficult to find support to back up these claims with scientific studies. The bottom line is that there is no scientific evidence to support the claims that a Himalayan Salt Lamp will produce a measurable amount of negative ions capable of improving your health in any way. If someone makes claims to the contrary, and you are genuinely interested, it would not be unreasonable to request solid, evidence-based proof. A salt lamp advocate should be able to give clear, concise, measurable evidence of negative ion generation. In its absence, all the promoter(s) have are baseless and unfounded claims. There have been other exaggerated claims as to the benefits of utilizing these salt lamps which tout the benefits of negative ion generation in the air around us. Most people who own Himalayan salt crystal lamps report that they find them very relaxing to be near. This is a very subjective view and may be extremely personal but certainly not applicable to everyone.1-3

I found this to be a very intriguing topic and we appreciate you bringing it to the attention of our online community. With the spate of spammers, click baiters and the proliferation of ‘bots’ on Facebook pages, it is important for the community to be aware of unscrupulous posts and web-based promotions that market ‘cure all’ remedies that are completely unregulated. Without going into extensive detail, I will say that many of these ‘cures’, or ‘treatments’ for COPD and even asthma, are more promotional than informational. When there is information provided, it is questionable at best. There is very little true science supporting the use of salt lamps and ‘salt therapy’, in general. I always urge patients to discuss these devices with their physicians. I think ‘let the buyer beware’ is a good axiom to follow in these sorts of situations.1-3

Response from Lyn

Insomnia can have a remarkably negative impact on a person’s life. Add lack of sleep to COPD and a person’s quality of life has just taken a considerable dive. So, in an attempt to remedy insomnia some people have turned to salt lamps. There is actually some scientific basis to their use.

The atmosphere all around us is full of both positive and negative ions. Modern life has subjected us to a very high concentration of positive ions due to the amount of electronic devices we have and use; in our homes we’re besieged by computers, TV’s, phones, and microwaves. They are sometimes referred to as “electronic smog”. The positive ions created by these devices can exacerbate allergies, contribute to sleep disorders, and even raise stress levels.

On the other hand, salt lamps are natural negative ion generators. Many believe they can help with allergies, make us feel refreshed, improve mood, and clean the air. Because they don’t have a huge range, it’s important to put them in your most lived-in room. Some people have one in their main living area and another in their bedroom. They are relatively inexpensive but it is important to get a genuine Himalayan salt lamp and not an imitation.

They’re actually quite pretty, so you may want to try one just for its decorative factor.

What do you think about what you just read? Leave your comments below!

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