With 560-plus "likes" on its Facebook page and over 120 new customers in its , Minneapolis' first "salt cave" seems to be gaining popularity, and fast.
For those who put stock in fate, these results seem like a confirmation of owner Scott Wertkin's suspicions.
"I think it was meant to be," he told Patch while standing in the airy reception area of The Salt Cave Minneapolis, at the corner of 48th and Nicollet Avenue. "Just based on how smooth and quickly this (business) has become a reality."
Wertkin and his wife first discovered the idea of salt therapy through a TV news broadcast while on vacation in Florida. Both he and his wife have suffered serious seasonal allergies, and his son is an asthmatic. Since Polish salt miners in the 1800s reported that their lungs seemed to work better after a shift underground, and later eastern European doctors built hospitals in former salt mines, breathing air mixed with tiny salt particles has been reputed to help many kinds of pulmonary issues, from mild congestion to all the way to cystic fibrosis.
Salt cave sessions, or "halotherapy," typically involve spending time in a climate-controlled room into which pharmaceutical-grade, aerosolized salt is blown, to simulate the atmosphere of a salt mine.
With the reputed benefits of halotherapy before him, Wertkin said he and his wife plunged into investigating the practice and the science behind it. While there's been limited contemporary study of halotherapy, Wertkin said he became convinced enough by what he's seen and heard to look for a salt cave in Minnesota. Finding none, he decided to change that—by opening his own.
Wertkin said he's trying to encourage researchers from the National Institutes of Health and other places to come to his new business to study halotherapy, in part to try to bring more legitimacy to a healthcare treatment that he thinks works.
"I'm still a skeptic" to some degree, Wertkin said. "Until I see a lot more medical studies, I'm not going to say that this works for everyone."