EAST VILLAGE — A Montauk company constructing Himalayan “salt caves” for medicinal purposes is bringing one of the therapeutic hangouts to East 10th Street this summer, offering locals an alternative approach to respiratory problems and other ailments.
Founder Shannon Coppola, of Montauk Salt Cave, said she was sold on the healing properties of the caves when she took her chronically ill 4-year-old son to one in New Jersey, finding it to be the first treatment to ease his severe respiratory symptoms.
“We built this facility because it was the only thing that seemed to help our son,” said Coppola, noting she and her husband had tried modern medicines and surgeries to no avail.
When a friend recommended salt therapy, Coppola happened to be visiting her mother near an existing center and figured it couldn’t hurt.
“We took Oliver, and after one session he slept through the night for the very first time — the cough kind of just disappeared,” she said.
As she saw it, her family had two options: Move to New Jersey, or start building their own salt caves in New York. Coppola has since opened caves in Montauk and Huntington, and plans to open the first New York City location at 90 E. 10th St. between Third and Fourth avenues in August.
News of the upcoming location was first reported by EV Grieve.
Visitors to the caves sit back in a room completely lined with Himalayan salt while pharmaceutical-grade salt is pumped into the air. The anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial properties of the salt then work to improve lungs and nasal passageways during the 45-minute session, Coppola said.
The air is full of minerals that your body thrives on but expels throughout the day, such as calcium, magnesium and iron, and the salt caves are a way of replenishing those minerals, Coppola claimed.
She said salt therapy has also worked wonders on her eczema and her husband’s Lyme disease, and can even ease psychological ailments such as anxiety and depression.
However, the science of salt caves and the supposed medicinal benefits of using them have been called into question by some experts. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has warned that despite anecdotal evidence, studies on the therapy are sparse and asthma sufferers are better off steering clear of the caves given the potential of concentrated salts to make symptoms even worse.
The American Lung Association has recommended patients consult their doctors before visiting salt caves, but acknowledged they may pose some benefits.
Coppola advised skeptics to come to the cave and see the results for themselves.
“I guess the best thing for me to really say is, you have to experience it for yourself in order to really see the benefits,” she said. “My husband and I would never have invested in something like this if it didn’t work.”
Coppola also acknowledged that the caves must be operated responsibly. Generators pumping high concentrations of salt could be harmful, and anyone who has recently had an organ transplant is not advised to use the caves, she said. The Montauk Salt Cave uses safe generators and advises visitors based on their medical histories, she said.
The cave charges $40 for a 45-minute session, but certain discounted packages are available as well.
The center also offers Reiki, a Japanese technique of healing through energy that is supposed to reduce stress and promote relaxation, as well as meditation, yoga and "sound healing" with crystal singing bowls.