More “Woo” comes to Central Pennsylvania!

Found this article today:

Pyramid Holistic Wellness Center, 120 Merchants Row, Rutland, VT 05701, March 21, 2011 – Dr. Margaret Smiechowski, North America’s foremost expert on Himalayan salt, is pleased to announce that her latest salt cave design is set to be revealed on March 29th, 2011, at the opening of the Tranquility Salon and Wellness Center in Carlisle, PA. Like all of her salt caves, the Carlisle cave features eco-friendly building materials and a highly sophisticated climate-controlled environment. However, this cave represents what Dr. Smiechowski calls the “new generation” of caves in the United States.

In doing research, all I’ve been able to find of “Dr.” Smiechowski is this:

DR. MARGARET SMIECHOWSKI - Professor of Pathology, Skin Diseases, and Natural Medicine. 
Dr. Smiechowski graduated from European medical college with a midwife degree and also 
holds degrees in health education, health consulting, homoepathy, and currently holds 
a doctorate in homeopathic medicine. She has been a massage therapist for twelve years 
and has expertise in anatomy and physiology, as well as cupping.

Since Homeopathy isn’t a “science”, I’m not sure how seriously one should take a degree in it, let alone a doctorate. I haven’t been able to track down “European medical college”, so I’m not sure if it’s an accredited school.

“The Carlisle cave has significant design improvements far surpassing previous designs,” says Dr. Smiechowski. “In particular, this cave has a unique proprietary ceiling design that allows for a very high-tech ventilation system, offering the visitor the best of modern technology combined with old-world salt therapy.”

The Carlisle cave contains approximately 12,000 pounds of Himalayan salt, which is believed to be the purest salt on earth, containing all of the minerals that the human body requires for healthy living. The salt in this new cave is primarily of the darker burgundy color has been mined by hand without the use of equipment or chemicals. Visitors to the cave will enjoy the decor, which features recycled wood from an 1800′s barn, and soft lighting from unique copper lamps. While relaxing in the peaceful environment, up to ten visitors at once will absorb the minerals from the salt, as well as the negative ions given off from it, which creates a natural detoxification effect.

Purest salt on earth? Pure salt is one sodium ion with one chlorine ion. I find it suspicious that anyone would claim that mined salt is in anyway purer than refined salt. Table salt is simply pure salt with Iodine added. Salt is one of the easiest compounds to synthesize and to purify. Claims of a “Natural detoxification effect” on any level that provides a “dollar-for-dollar” benefit to your health are specious at best. Make no mistake, these services aren’t cheap. From the FAQ on

Q: What is the pricing for the Salt Cave? 

A: Single sessions are $10 per person per 55-minute treatment. 
We do offer a ten-session punch card for $90, and we offer an 
unlimited monthly pass for one person for $60. The entire cave 
can be rented for $100/hour. The Salt Cave treatment room is 
available for $40/hour.

Salt is used in Dr. Smiechowski’s home country of Poland and throughout the world to help reduce inflammation, treat respiratory problems, prevent and reduce the severity of colds and flu, and for a wide variety of other medical problems. Tranquility Salon and Wellness Center will offer speleotherapy, the clinical use of salt through their new salt cave, in conjunction with a full array of wellness options. “Tranquility will be offering only services using all-natural products,” says Lisa Ramsey

There may be health benefits to ingesting or inhaling salt. There are studies that show that there is a benefit to inhaling a salt solution, through a (cheap) inhaler, to help with bronchitis or cystic fibrosis. It’s laughable to claim that you will get that benefit merely by “hanging out in a salt cave”. There are certainly no actual scientific studies to support the idea.

One final note. My spell checker has no idea what speleotherapy is -> Not a good sign at all.

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  • disappointed1

    It is so sad to me that someone would take the time to criticize and minimize someone’s life work, let alone a very powerful healing modality that could help people on so many levels.

    I see no credentials for the person who wrote this (other than his self-proclaimed “geek” status), so I am not sure what gives him the knowledge to criticize, for I do not see that he has done any real research beyond a Google search.

    First, homeopathy IS considered a health science in other parts of the world and studies exist supporting its validity. Our American field of immunizations is based on the same principles as homeopathy. Just because something is not mainstream in the United States and because billions of dollars are not poured into studying it in the US does not mean that it is not a real science.

    Second, while the author of this post incorrectly states that there are “certainly no scientific studies to support this idea,” there is a HUGE body of scientific evidence that supports the validity of the use of salt and salt caves as a serious wellness treatment. The majority of the peer-reviewed research was done in Poland and Asia and has not been published in English, so most Americans are not aware of it. In the United States, our focus is researching pharmaceutical treatments, so most Americans know nothing about the research that is done in other parts of the world–sorry, it’s not available on Google. For those who really want to learn something beyond the author’s opinion, I might suggest looking into the hospital that is built into the salt mines of Wieliczka, Poland.

    Third, I see no credentials listed here that identify why the author of this post has any ability to educate about the chemical composition of salt. Is this author a scientist? Has he himself ever compared the chemical composition of Himalayan salt to table salt? Most importantly, has this person ever stepped foot in a salt cave?

    While I could actually invest more of my time responding to each of the inaccuracies listed in this opinion post–everythng from challenging Dr. Smiechowski’s extensive education to the value of a $10 treatment for a salt cave session–it’s not worth my time because the person writing this post has clearly NOT done any real research. While the Internet is a wonderful tool for sharing information, it is sad to me that someone with an opinion can post this sort of thing that may prevent someone else who would really benefit from a salt treatment to use it. Sad, indeed.

    The truth is this–I have personal, first-hand knowledge of the benefits of the salt cave. I have to admit that I was skeptical at first, too. How could relaxing in a cave bring all of the benefits claimed by those in Poland and Asia? The answer is simple…although the author above posted nothing about the actual mineral content of Himalayan salt, the air in a salt cave is saturated with the minerals from the salt. Himalayan salt actually contains at least 84 essential minerals and trace elements (which is scientifically documented) and a purity of air that cannot be denied. When you walk into a salt cave, you WILL notice immediately the ease of breathing and how clean the air feels. For me, someone who has always suffered from seasonal allergies to the point where there are days when I cannot go outside, the salt cave has helped me tremendously. I have also watched literally hundreds of other people experience the benefits of the cave–most of whom had no prior knowledge or expectation of its benefits.

    So how about this? If it is just “bunk,” what do you have to lose in trying a salt treatment? Seriously. Before you criticize (and slander) someone else, why not actually try it out for yourself? Why not get out of your chair and look for research beyond what is on Google? Why not actually approach the people who know this stuff with a respectful yet skeptical tone (instead of pretending to be someone who is really interested in the topic) and give them an opportunity to actually respond to your opinions through dialogue? Why not print your credentials? Last I knew, “geek” wasn’t a complimentary term for someone with real knowledge. For those of us truly in the research community, this opinion article would be entertaining but nothing beyond that as it is not written in a scholarly manner. The unfortunate part is that things like this can be posted–and I know there are people out there who NEED the Himalayan salt treatment but will read this and disregard it.

    Very sad. And in my opinion, reckless.

    I wonder what the person who wrote this could do if he used his powers of persuasion for good instead of stuff like this. Wow–what amazing contributions he could probably make to society. How about it, Nightwalker? Let’s see what YOU can do!

  • nightwalker

    Instead of saying that “Studies have been done”, usually people would be so good as to point me to those studies, if they would like to correct me.

    Offering a criticism of anything is not “irresponsible” – There have been some outlandish claims made by your organization. I simply suggest that before shilling money out of people that you consider actually proffering evidence that it actually works, other than “it makes some people feel better”. I’m quite aware of the placebo effect, it’s apparent that you rely on it rather than posting any sort of scientific studies to back your claim.

    How many people in your organization actually have any scientific training whatsoever? Presenting someone with a doctorate in homeopathy from some overseas university as some sort of scientific “expert” is laughable. Offering this article up on my own site, with comments enabled sounds to me like an offering of dialog. The information on your site regarding your therapists is woefully thin.

    As I said in my post, there is research to show that a simple salt inhaler will do the job (for some people with certain breathing issues) that you claim you need a hugely expensive salt cave for. That implies that simply sitting in salt provides benefits to EVERYONE. That’s an outlandish claim, and one that should be questioned. Especially in a situation where parents might give out money to heal their children. The problem I have with outlandish claims like this is that it leads people who need actual help away from the medical professionals that CAN help them.

    No, I don’t need to post my credentials. They don’t matter. I’m not the one claiming that this works. I’m simply raising the question. It’s up to you, on your site, or here, to post evidence of your claims.

  • nightwalker

    Oh, and if it’s not clear to everyone else, the previous poster came from a address.

  • nightwalker

    Wow: I didn’t realize I missed this comment, and I can’t let it rest on my site:

    “First, homeopathy IS considered a health science in other parts of the world and studies exist supporting its validity. Our American field of immunizations is based on the same principles as homeopathy.”

    Homeopathy has been completely discredited as a science, and no wonder why: It simply doesn’t (and can’t) work.

    By the time you dilute a solution to the point required by homeopathic remedies, the solution most likely doesn’t actually have a molecule of the original substance. It’s bunk. It’s a fraud. Homeopathy simply does NOT work. And there are no reputable studies that claim it does.

    Disagree with me? Fine: Produce the studies. Put your money where your mouth is.

  • disappointed1

    We can play tit-for-tat with pointing to research studies that validate and invalidate homeopathy all you want. But this is not actually about homeopathy, remember? So you don’t agree with me about homeopathy–fine. So my language around this subject is not as precise as it would be if I had some time to prepare my thoughts. Fine. Let’s look at the real issue here–that you have asked for clinical studies to support the use of Himalayan salt. I tried to post my response on the website where people have been commenting all day, but mysteriously that website no longer is accepting new posts about that subject, so I am going to post my lengthy response (including what I hope will be more than enough scientific research to satisfy your request) here, and I hope you will share this with your colleagues.
    This will be my last post on this site because it has become clear that I am wasting my time, which I could and should be using to do real work instead of responding to this tabloid-style posting. I could literally spend dozens more hours responding to each individual point that all of the people on this site have raised. Of course some of the points raised are valid, but if I was ever once given the chance to have a real conversation with any of the people who apparently feel so passionate about the “lack” of scientific study about Himalayan salt BEFORE the post was published, none of this would have been written, because we are probably more on the same page than would seem. The research is out there, and it is clear. Once again, I repeat my comment from earlier–ignoring scientific research is not true scientific inquiry.

    Below is a short list of some of the research that has been conducted in other parts of the world. The actual body of research is much greater–but this is a small sampling that I could pull together on short notice. The problem that I have identified earlier is that much of this research was published (in peer reviewed journals) in other countries in other languages. So someone doing a quick Google search would not be able to pull these studies up. Before I agreed to build and operate a salt cave, I grilled Dr. Smiechowski because I do want to make a positive impact on the world and I do not want to cheat people. Dr. Smiechowski and I sat down with many of these studies and she translated for me because I do not read Russian, Polish, or Chinese. We spent enough time together reviewing these until I was absolutely sure that there is scientific evidence to support it. At the time, there were no caves here in the US for me to visit, but I did look very carefully at what was happening in Poland in the caves there. With the huge amount of scientific research and the anecdotal reports from those who have used it, there was no doubt in my mind that salt caves are very beneficial.

    One thing that has become abundantly clear from reading the “I became very angry” posts is that people do not understand what a salt cave actually is. No, I am sorry, Sharon, but you cannot take your $3 vile of saline solution and get the same benefit as sitting in a Himalayan salt cave. It is just not the same. As a geologist with experience in geochemistry, you should understand that Himalayan salt has a different makeup than saline solution. In that scientific study reported by the New England Journal of Medicine, for example, people with certain medical conditions received benefit from inhaling salt. If you would consider visiting a salt cave yourself (in addition to Mr. Ramsey’s invitation, I would make the same invitation to any of you) you would see that you are not just “hanging out” in a room filled with salt. The air in the cave is saturated with the salt…so as you just sit in the cave and relax (which has its own benefits that no one here seems to dispute), you are actually inhaling the salt.

    Everyone who has posted seems so intelligent that I am surprised that they cannot understand these facts:
    1. All of these studies showing the efficacy of salt inhalation support the use of salt caves because the primary delivery of the salt in a salt cave session is via inhalation (and at least a dozen studies actually use an artificial or natural salt cave to show benefits).
    2. Just because these studies took place in other countries does not mean that they were not conducted in a rigorous, scholarly manner.
    3. If salt therapy is beneficial to those who already exhibit signs of compromised immune systems, one might expect that salt therapy would be beneficial to anyone who uses it.
    4. You cannot have it both ways…you cannot tell us that we cannot make any medical claims about the use of a cave and then tell us that they are scams because we do not post the medical claims on our websites. Brian raises a great point when he asks “which is it?” You tell me–if the FDA will allow us to consider salt therapy a medical treatment, my website will be filled with all of the scientific data you need to support its use as a medical treatment. But until that happens, we can only hint at its possible benefits and share anecdotes. You cannot fault us for restrictions that our society has created.

    My problem with all of this is not that you have questioned salt therapy. Please, question. Questioning is healthy and productive. But what has been posted here is not questioning–it is making assumptions and presenting them as facts without giving the “other side” a chance to answer. Still–go ahead and ridicule this treatment all you like, because you are the one who misses out, and the more negative attention you give to it, the more curiosity you generate, and the more people with open minds who will actually try it. Believe me, I am all for blowing the whistle on ineffective scams, but I’ve done the research, and based on what I’ve seen, I know that salt therapy is not a scam. Of course you are entitled to your opinion. Obviously you seem to have many considering you haven’t actually experienced a salt cave yourself. Have your opinion…print it on websites like this. But my problem is really two-fold. As I wrote earlier today, this treatment is so simple (not to mention affordable! I’m not sure where you could get any treatment anywhere for $10!) and potentially effective that postings like this might make someone who could really benefit not get the treatment. But more importantly to me is this seemingly personal attack on Dr. Smiechowski. What did she do to any of you that would warrant attacking her credentials, her life work, or the way she has introduced Himalayan salt therapy to the US? One conversation with her will show you that she is one of the most genuine people you will ever meet. If she puts her professional life and name on the line to endorse salt therapy, I know it is real. Questioning the validity of her education and training because it happened “overseas” is absurd. Are you suggesting that degrees from other countries are any less meaningful than American degrees? (And for the record, how do you even know that her education happened overseas? The truth is that she holds degrees from at least two countries. Had anyone asked her before printing the comments about her in public, she could’ve cleared this up.) I guess I don’t understand why someone didn’t just pick up the phone and call her—ask her for her credentials–ask her for the research. Because if you did, you would get exactly what I got, which is this list. (Although I had reported earlier that much of this research is not available online, I have since learned that now some of it is published on the web.)

    From Dr. Smiechowski:
    Most of the dozens of clinical trials thus far, mainly reported in Russian-language journals, have focused on the use of Speleotherapy as a treatment for asthma, chronic bronchitis, a range of respiratory conditions and potentially against systemic diseases. Clinical studies have also been published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2006) demonstrating that the inhalation of saline produces sustained mucus clearance and improved lung function in patients with Cistic Fibrosis. In 1995 the Journal of Aerosol Medicine reported significant improvements in patients with various types of respiratory diseases (bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive and non-obstructive bronchitis, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis) who were treated with halotherapy (salt therapy) in a placebo-controlled clinical trial.

    Chernenkov RA, Chernenkova EA, Zhukov GV.
    [The use of an artificial microclimate chamber in the treatment of patients with chronic obstructive lung diseases]
    Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 1997 Jul-Aug ;( 4):19-21. (Article in Russian)
    PMID: 9424823

    Chervinskaya AV, Zilber NA.
    Halotherapy for treatment of respiratory diseases
    J Aerosol Med. 1995 Fall;8(3):221-32.
    PMID: 10161255

    Gorbenko PP, Adamova IV, Sinitsyna TM.
    [Bronchial hyperreactivity to the inhalation of hypo- and hyperosmolar aerosols and its correction by halotherapy]
    Ter Arkh. 1996; 68(8):24-8. (Article in Russian)
    PMID: 9019826

    Grinshtein IuI, Shestovitskii VA, Kuligina-Maksimova AV.
    [Clinical significance of cytological characteristics of bronchial inflammation in obstructive pulmonary diseases]
    Ter Arkh. 2004; 76(3):36-9. (Article in Russian)
    PMID: 15108456

    Grigor’eva NV.
    [Halotherapy in combined non-puncture therapy of patients with acute purulent maxillary sinusitis]
    Vestn Otorinolaringol. 2003;(4):42-4. (Article in Russian)
    PMID: 13677023

    Abdrakhmanova LM, Farkhutdinov UR, Farkhutdinov RR.
    [Effectiveness of halotherapy of chronic bronchitis patients]
    Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 2000 Nov-Dec ;( 6):21-4. (Article in Russian)
    PMID: 11197648

    Maev EZ, Vinogradov NV.
    [Halotherapy in the combined treatment of chronic bronchitis patients]
    Voen Med Zh. 1999 Jun; 320(6):34-7, 96. (Article in Russian)
    PMID: 10439712

    Chervinskaia AV.
    [The scientific validation and outlook for the practical use of halo-aerosol therapy]
    Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 2000 Jan-Feb ;( 1):21-4. (Article in Russian)
    PMID: 11094875

    Farkhutdinov UR, Abdrakhmanova LM, Farkhutdinov RR.
    [Effects of halotherapy on free radical oxidation in patients with chronic bronchitis]
    Klin Med ( Moscow ). 2000;78(12):37-40. (Article in Russian)
    PMID: 11210350

    Borisenko LV, et al
    [The use of halotherapy for the rehabilitation of patients with acute bronchitis and a protracted and recurrent course]
    Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 1995 Jan-Feb ;( 1):11-5. (Article in Russian)
    PMID: 7785211

    Roslaia NA, Likhacheva EI, Shchekoldin PI.
    [Efficacy of therapeutic use of ultrasound and sinusoidal modulated currents combed with halotherapy in patient with occupational toxic-dust bronchitis]
    Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 2001 Jan-Feb ;( 1):26-7. (Article in Russian)
    PMID: 11530404

    Maliavin AG, Filiaeva IuA, Umakhanova MM, Chervinskaia AV.
    [Halotherapy-a new treatment of bacterial vaginosis]
    Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 2004 May-Jun ;( 3):35-7. (Article in Russian)
    PMID: 15216790

    Wark, P.A.B. and V. McDonald (2004), “Nebulised Hypertonic Saline for Cystic Fibrosis,” Cochrane Review (abstract), (as of August 3, 2004).

    In case these thirteen clinical studies are not enough, the following websites offer additional support:

    Tano, L Tano
    Salt mine rehabilitation center this website is really good

    If you are still reading, here is something else that might be of interest from Dr. Smiechowski about the mines at Wieliczka:

    In 2004, the Wieliczka Salt Mine Underground Rehabilitation and Treatment Centre received the International ISO 9001:2000 Certificate in the Quality Management in health care in the field of treatment of the respiratory system and allergic conditions in adults and children. [Surely this is not granted to institutions using non-scientific methods or quackery?]

    Thanks to the agreement signed between the Wieliczka Salt Mine, the Jagiellonian University Collegium Medicum and the Academy of Physical Education on co-operation in teaching, research and scientific activities, the Centre is a venue of research on the influence of the special microclimate of the Wieliczka Mine on the human body.

    The scientific research conducted at the Centre is supervised by Professor Krystyna Obtułowicz – the head of the UJ Collegium Medicum Allergology department, as the Plenipotentiary of Collegiom’s Vice-chancellor for of Co-operation with the Mine.

    Professor Obtulowicz would be a wonderful person to interview for a posting like this because there are ongoing clinical trials at Wieliczka. Surely there is no question of the rigorous conditions that this Polish orginzation creates for their clinical trials? Here is a fine example of someone who could’ve been contacted before anything was printed. Let’s get Professor Obtulowicz’s take on this. But no, no one was consulted. Instead, people took apparently random quotes from a press release and a website designed to raise interest and awareness and critiqued them as being unscientific. (Which, of course, they are unscientific because we cannot include anything suggesting the cave is a medical treatment in our public announcements.) Of course “average concerned citizens” have the right to question anything; they should, because there are enough scams out there. But if you are reading this still, by now you have hopefully seen that this is not one of them. The research DOES exist…you can find it on the web, or talk to one of the experts who have dedicated their lives to this work.

    I get it, Sharon. You don’t like, believe in, or support homeopathy. You don’t agree with my assertions. That is fine. But we’re not talking about homeopathy here. For every study you can find that says it is quackery, I can pull up another study that suggests that it isn’t. But again, we are not questioning homeopathy here. Although Dr. Smiechowski also holds a doctorate in homeopathic studies (from an accredited college, by the way), this posting is supposed to be questioning her expertise on Himalayan salt, which has little to do with her homeopathy education. I only brought up what I brought up because this was one of the points that Brian intially questioned. I don’t really understand why her interest in homeopathy is even an issue. For the record, I don’t really understand why any of this is an issue.

    So here’s the deal. In the time that you’ve spent criticizing my lack of scientific rigor, you could have actually done real research to see what I saw. Instead of criticizing people with good intentions who do follow evidence-based practices, you could have done a little research about what it is that we actually do. You could have approached us like one human being to another, been up front about what you were doing, and asked us directly for this information. Yes, I agree that as an “expert” endorsing a treatment, it is my responsibility to provide support…which I think I have done here…but I cannot do that if I am not given the opportunity. How was I to know that Brian was working on an article to debunk this important work? Isn’t it Brian’s responsibility to look at both sides and weigh the evidence before printing something that is so damaging to someone’s career and business? This work isn’t just a hobby to us…it is our livelihood and our passion. So while you all can operate this website as a hobby in your spare time, there are people who will take what you write very seriously. A casual posting on your part because you haven’t seen the research that does exist could be extremely detrimental to the career of Dr. Smiechowski in particular. I really wish you had given us the opportunity to talk with you before you published this. I actually commend the work that you are doing in trying to protect other concerned citizens, but in this case I think you were reckless in posting something without making any real effort to communicate with anyone who knows the truth about this topic. I’m sorry if the word “reckless” makes anyone “lose it”–but that is the way I see it. This is MY opinion, and I have just as much right to express my opinion.

    Before I end, I would like to address one more topic. Not for Brian and Sharon and anyone else directly involved in this, but for everyone out there who is actually spending the time to follow this who hasn’t already made up their minds.

    I feel like the original posting made a lot of assumptions…please forgive my language if it is “flowery” but I am not going to sit still and watch as someone tears down this work. One of the assumptions that was clear from the start is that I personally base my work on “pseudo science.” Had anyone asked me, I would have explained that before I started my holistic center, I worked at a research hospital where we conducted dozens of clinical trials. While there (and elsewhere), I served in every capacity from research associate to the principle investigator. I have been involved in research on every possible level…from research design to writing the informed consent forms to collecting the data and analyzing it. I was also involved in writing the results of the data, and in many cases helping to get it published in peer reviewed journals. So when I hear people accusing me of not understanding what real science is, I can only laugh. Why don’t they just ask me what my credentials are?

    During my time working at the hospital, we studied everything from effective doses of Prozac to the effectiveness of the smoking cessation patch. We looked at diseases like schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and cocaine addiction. While some of our research was sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, much of what we did was funded by the United States federal government. The type of research that we did was extremely rigorous. Everything was double-blind. Everything was peer-reviewed. Everything was published. And a lot of our research actually did great things in the medical and addiction fields. During that time in my life, I learned first hand the value of scientific study, and I have carried that lesson into the rest of my life.

    I have created a center that offers a variety of services in a part of the world that does not usually have access to these things. Much of what we do is highly supported by scientific research—Yoga, acupuncture, mental health counseling, etc. But some of the stuff is harder to quantify because anyone qualified to do a research study on it has already decided that it is not based on science. And there is no money out there to fund a study on the benefits of a salt cave. (If you have some money you’d like to contribute, I would be happy to design a study. I’m not exactly sure how to design a blind study using an existing Himalayan salt cave, though. Should I create a fake cave filled with table salt? Do you know how much that would cost?)

    So some of the things we offer do not have extensive American scientific study to back them, so I have had to look critically at what I believe myself. But no matter how much I believe in something…no matter how much research exists, people will have their own opinions. They will believe what they want to believe, and it seems to be human nature to try to put other people’s beliefs down. People have the right to their opinions, but it should never be at the expense of someone else who doesn’t deserve it. That is just plain mean.

    And I’ve also learned that double-blind and peer-reviewed is not the end all and be all. One pharmaceutical company, for example, developed a medication that could virtually stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks, but the medication was pulled because someone in Missouri died during the clinical trial. Of course someone died–we were studying people in their 90′s! Was that death due to the medication or just because the person was elderly and sick? Here is an example where a double blind study was meaningless because the rigorous system was too inflexible. Now the world has lost out on this medication that could’ve been so beneficial. And on the other end, I’ve actually seen people analyze data in ways that support any assumption. It’s all in the analysis that you choose and the slant with which you write. Just because there exists a piece of research to support something does not mean that it is actually the way it is. Although we can say that it is statistically probable that the results of a study can be extended out to the entire population, there is just no way to know that for sure. We see this all the time in the health and wellness field as contradictory research is published regularly. Here’s a prime and probably familiar example. Is wine good for the heart? In moderation? What is moderation? Or is it the grapes that are good for the heart? Or is it a chemical in the grape itself? Is wine actually bad for the heart? The research is so scattered and mixed that even with scientific studies, it is hard to know what the truth is.

    So what I have learned is quite simple…look for the research, but also use your own brain. If two thousand people report a benefit from using a Himalayan salt mine, that cannot be discounted because it was not a double-blind study or because it was published in Polish. In every study I was ever involved in, anecdotal evidence was never dismissed; it was almost always listed in the results and discussion section. Of course you also want to show the scientifically obtained research because that is considered to be more objective. But if we are actually studying things that pertain to human life, wouldn’t we also want to take into consideration the opinions of those people that we are studying? Anecdotes alone are definitely not enough, but they still have value, and combined with statistical evidence, I see no reason for posts like these.

    So, Brian, thank you for raising this whole issue because it has caused me to revisit the original research that convinced me in the first place, and now I feel more confident than ever that salt therapy is effective.

    And Sharon, thank you for questioning my beliefs, because it is always good to question yourself. You don’t have to agree with me. That’s the beauty of being human. We can each have our own opinions, and they can exist together in the same world without one of us being right and one wrong. Perhaps there is more than one side to every issue.

    And thanks to Dr. Margaret Smiechowski for bringing this wonderful modality to the US…thanks to Scott and others for helping bring this modality to areas that obviously don’t really know anything about its effectiveness. I hope you have a lot of success in spreading the truth about salt therapy in Pennsylvania.

    Although I’d like to say that defending myself via this website has been fun, I cannot. The experience has been insulting on so many personal and professional levels. So I would like to say thanks also to anyone who has been following this. I am not going to return to this website, so I will end with this:

    If by reading this, anyone is still not convinced of the value of the salt cave, or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly. is my e-mail address, and I welcome any legitimate, thoughtful reactions. Of course I would encourage any of you to do your own research. If anyone reading this would like to visit our cave on me, please do not hesitate to contact me via e-mail and we can make that happen. I’m not out to make money…I just want the world to experience the benefits that I have experienced.

    Thank you all for your thoughtful communications.
    Be well!
    William Kelley, Ph.D.
    Pyramid Holistic Wellness Center
    Rutland, Vermont

  • nightwalker


    I said it before, and I’ll say it again:

    There are NO reputable scientists, doctors, or studies that support the use of homeopathy. The fact that you don’t examine it with a critical eye belies any other claim that you try to make, before we get started.

    Second, the fact that you claim personal insult from critical review also is more than a little disturbing.

    Third, You haven’t acknowledged (and I’ll say it again) – Even in my first article, I said that salt can have some positive results. None of these articles (At least none of the studies) have anything to do with Himalayan Salt Caves as a delivery system for the salt. I do NOT object to the use of salt inhalers to treat Bronchitis and Cystic Fibrosis: That is researched, studied medicine. I do object to dressing up the salt caves in marketing lingo and presenting them as actual, reasonable medical treatment: They aren’t, pure and simple. The only articles you posted that have to do with Salt Caves have nothing to do with actual research: They are fluff pieces written by supporters. Come back when you find some actual, scientific, research.

    There’s a clear difference between medicine and alternative medicine: Do you know what they call alternative medicine that has been proven to work?


    However, those that say “Well, we don’t have to prove our claims, just try it, you’ll ‘know’ it works for yourself” – It’s those claims that should cause people to be suspicious.

    I will agree with you on one point – Conversing with you has only strengthened my original suspicions. I can certainly assure you that if we had started this conversation in private, that it would still end up here, considering the lack of evidence on the efficacy of salt caves.

  • nightwalker

    It’s hilarious to me that the only published research about salt has to do with inhaling it (in a respirator), and that supporters such as yourself seem to insist that it means that the best REASONABLE approach then is to cart tons of salt into a room and have you sit in it.

  • nightwalker

    Oh, and one other thing: I didn’t post research studies that “invalidate” your claim. I requested you to post one study that does. I await a valid, reasonable study that shows that Himalayan salt caves are a good delivery system of salt to someone for even the diseases that salt has shown some benefit to.