Saline solution

At first you wonder if anything’s happening. You’re sitting in an acrylic and wood booth the size of a telephone booth – remember those? – listening to Eastern music with your eyes closed, breathing deeply. It’s a pleasant, relaxing 15 minutes, but you might as well be home on your couch, you think.

And then you open your eyes and look down. Bits of finely granulated salt dot your arms and legs and collect in corners of the booth’s floor.

You might find your sinuses opening up. You might not experience that until the next day. You may find your skin feeling smoother, too, as if after exfoliating it.

Welcome to Breathe Easy, a halotherapy, or dry salt therapy, treatment center with locations in Mamaroneck, where this reporter tried it, and Manhattan. The Westchester flagship is set to open in Dobbs Ferry March 1.

Most people in this country are familiar with wet salt treatments – the various saline solutions, the neti pots you use for nasal irrigation. Dry salt therapy – which is well established in Europe and just beginning to take off on this side of the pond – absorbs the mucus that wreaks havoc with sinus sufferers, says Breathe Easy manager Lorey Giblin.

“It’s antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory,” she says.

And it’s also an example of how you can see a need and fill it. Breathe Easy founder Gary Patrick – a former Irvington resident who divides his time between Manhattan and Boca Raton, Fla. – has been in the advertising business for 38 years. As global advertising director for Skechers footwear, he travels a great deal and was prone to the sinus infections that seem to be part of airline travel. While in London, Patrick tried dry salt therapy. Not only did his sinuses improve, he says, but his wife noticed that he was snoring less.

Patrick looked to continue the therapy in New York but no one was offering it. So he stepped in to fill the void. Some of his locations are more elaborate than others. The Mamaroneck Breathe Easy is a room inside the sunny Yoga Sanctuary at 951 E. Boston Post Road. The Breathe Easy at 825 Seventh Ave. in Manhattan has wall panels made of Himalayan salt as well as salt on the floor, the salt containing negative ions that counteract the positive ions we are charged with daily, Patrick says.

The other Manhattan Breathe Easy is at 1 Park Ave., while the Westchester flagship in Dobbs Ferry opens at 50 Livingston Ave.

“This is a holistic approach, not a medical therapy,” he says. “We don’t pretend to diagnose or cure anything.”

Patrick uses machines created in Estonia to aerate salt that is virtually pure (99.9 percent pharmaceutical grade), unlike table salt, which, he says, is loaded with chemicals. His website contains a number of studies from Allergy: The European Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology and the U.S. National Library of Medicine as well as one from The New England Journal of Medicine on the long-term effects of inhaled hypertonic saline on children with cystic fibrosis. But he recommends checking with your doctor before starting any new treatment.

Because the amount of salt being used is actually small and is not being ingested, Patrick says you don’t have to worry about it raising your blood pressure.

In other words, this is one kind of salt that you can add to your “diet.”

For more visit breatheeasyusa.com.

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