Body, meet temple
Vanessa Farquharson, National Post
Published: Saturday, March 20, 2010
It takes a lot of effort to keep material possessions in order, and the stress associated with this can pile up in the brain, muscles and bones. The most common treatment for this is massage, but some therapists are now taking a holistic approach and focusing on alternative methods of detoxing and relaxing. Here are some of these treatments--the first two were tested by National Post staff, others were recommended.
Speleotherapy On the ground floor of an unassuming office building near the Downsview TTC station, there's a room bursting with salt -- all over the floor, stuck to the walls -- with a few lounge chairs and a small playing area for children. Huge chunks of pink Himalayan rock salt form a stepping-stone path and a glowing lamp (also made from an oversized salt crystal) sits in the corner.
It's part of Harmony Speleocenter, an Eastern European spa run by Alexander Usatenko, who believes the healing powers of salt can improve a variety of health conditions, from sleeping problems to asthma and even digestive issues.
"Salt therapy has been recognized for hundreds of years in Europe," he says. "But the method we use here is based on something developed by a Polish physician about 200 years ago. He was paying attention to the health benefits of those working in salt mines. Despite their poor diets, they had very good skin and respiratory systems."
Most of his clients are of Eastern European descent and come from the surrounding area, although he's had people visit from Buffalo and New York, too. The treatment involves nothing more than sitting in the salt room for an hour, either relaxing, playing with your child, watching TV (they have DVDs) or reading a book. Meanwhile, a "halogenerator" disperses a stream of heated, negatively charged salt particles through an air vent.
It may sound kooky, but Usatenko can provide reams of paperwork to back up the salt theory, including studies published in respected medical journals.
"We've had very few individuals with no results," he says. "About 95% of people who do the first treatment end up coming back for more."
Our verdict: It would have been nice to get a massage while inhaling the salt, but it was a novel experience nonetheless and we could have sworn our skin looked clearer afterward.
- Harmony Speleocenter, 906 Sheppard Ave. W., Unit 4; $50, 1 hour (first treatment is free); 416-633-2882, speleocenter.ca