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Pinch of Salt

Cave trend comes to Wilmington

The healing properties of salt, an ancient cure for what ails you worldwide, is trending now across the U.S. This summer, the dry salt therapy craze arrives in Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach when two salt caves open.

Think salt of the Earth before you visit Native Salt Cave in the revitalized South Front Street warehouse district where fifteen tons of pink Himalayan salt line the interior.

Though she and her family are relative newcomers to Wilmington, massage therapist Andrea Roman – licensed in California and New York – has been breathing more freely on the eve of her opening.

Ten miles due east, where the Atlantic Ocean’s spray licks the mainland, longtime Wilmington resident and yoga instructor Liana Belanich is pursuing her dream of owning a business where she can entertain all of the various healing modalities that provide her a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle.

Investing sweat equity in her ambition, the University of North Carolina graduate struggled to find the capital but persisted and eventually found backers and the perfect location on Wrightsville Avenue, just minutes from the drawbridge at Crosspoint Plaza shopping center where she christened Prana Salt Cave.

Historically, Europeans have been resorting to wet salt therapies – salt baths and mineral springs – for generations to alleviate symptoms associated with respiratory conditions. Those treatments offer some physical relief. But, dry salt therapy is still fairly new “in our country,” Roman says.

She is intent upon elevating the awareness of dry salt or halotherapy as more and more seekers explore alternative healing modalities, she explains.

With her husband, Morgan, and their business partner and Andrea’s aunt, Kris Sako – a thirty-year resident of Wilmington – she will cut the ribbon on the main cave built by Margaret Smiechowski, owner of Massachusetts-based Salt Cave Inc. who is considered a foremost expert in Himalayan salt, Roman says. But, the salt that is crushed and dispersed as an aerosol by the halogenerator into the inhalation cave is pharmaceutical grade pure sodium chloride.

“Salt has the ability to cling to anything in your respiratory tract,” Andrea Roman says, “and will take it out of your body naturally. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antifungal.

After breathing for ten minutes, you feel yourself opening up. You’ll be feeling energized.”

The recommended forty-five-minute sessions are timed for maximum relaxation, while the backlit salt walls add a layer of chromo, or light therapy, and the continual disbursement of salt spray also permeates the skin to treat eczema and acne, among other irritating surface eruptions. Dry salt therapy may also help mitigate sleep disorders, anxiety, and stress; though, Roman points out, more research is being conducted.

“We can’t say it’s a cure,” she says, “but people who have asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, allergies, and the common cold will benefit. It’s super good for so many different things.”

Native Salt Cave, located on the ground level beneath Yoga Salt and next door to Beauty and Bloom, will also host guided meditations, tarot readings, psychic medium consults, harmonic bowl singing, group Reiki sessions, and more.

For Belanich of Prana Salt Cave, breath work, intense breathing, and meditation led her to her own place of healing from allergies that she now hopes to share with others.

“You feel better living close to the beach and salt air here,” Belanich says. “I always wanted to own my own business, but I didn’t know what. Everyone has yoga studios.”

With her fiancé, she talked about opening a wellness center. But more and more, she cited dry salt therapy online. Belanich personally visited eleven salt rooms in North Carolina, New York, and Florida and has used the treatments to mitigate her own allergy symptoms.

“You feel the aerosol in the room,” she says. “Some come out feeling energized; some feel relaxed or sleepy.”

As you would with a massage, Belanich recommends drinking water before and after a session, wearing loose, comfortable street clothes, removing shoes and replacing them with white socks or booties. Her guests can relax in chairs or sit on the floor lined with salt gravel in the chamber lined with salt blocks imported from Pakistan. Sans cellphones and talking and an interior temperature hovering around 72 degrees, the mood is set for breath work, meditation, or even sleep during the forty- five-minute session.

“I opened Prana because of my passion to help others,” Belanich says. “It has been two years in the making – a journey of failure, self-discovery, learning, growth, and patience.”

 

To view more of photographer Megan Deitz’s work, go to megandeitz.com.

 

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