POSTED: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 8:00am
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 8:04am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Spring can mean suffering for North Texans affected by allergies or other breathing problems.
"When it stirs up that pollen, it just makes you sneeze," said Robert Walker, who is being treated for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or COPD), as well as seasonal allergies.
However, a new Plano-based business offers an alternative treatment for allergy sufferers or people with upper respiratory problems like COPD or cystic fibrosis.
The business, called Salt Escape, offers what owner James Rizzuto calls "salt therapy."
The treatment involves sitting in a "salt room" for about 45 minutes.
The rooms are covered with salt from floor to ceiling and connect to a generator.
The generator distributes tiny particles of pharmaceutical-quality salt into the air.
Patients breathe in the particles, which, according to Rizzuto, have a natural anti-inflammatory property that can open up a client's airways.
"It loosens up the phlegm and the mucous," said Walker, who uses the treatment regularly.
It's also worked for Nicole Han's three and a half year old son Alex, who has long had problems breathing.
"This has been the only thing that has helped him," Han said.
Han says after trying several different medications and seeing few results, they tried salt therapy and swear by the treatment.
However, Rizzuto says the treatment is not meant to be a one-time cure, nor is it a replacement for a doctor's prescription.
"This should supplement whatever the doctor is doing," Rizzuto said.
While Rizzuto says the practice of salt therapy is not common in the United States, he says it's popular in Europe.
Baylor Plano allergist Dr. Nastaran Safdarian says while she has not seen any of her patients try this kind of alternative therapy, she says there is a rising demand for "natural" remedies.
Furthermore, Safdarian says she would not discourage her patients from using salt therapy as a supplemental treatment because she uses salt-based remedies on a daily basis.
The salt therapy, she says, just seems like a different manner of delivering treatment.
"We use salt in allergies all the time," she said. "We use nasal saline rinses like the Neti pot or another saline rinse."