Reporter: Clare Brady

Salt rooms the alternative therapy has been around since the 16th century. Then, Polish miners dug out and spent time in special salt mines to clear their lungs after work.

In the 21st century it's a worldwide magnet for those with breathing problems desperate for a cure, these mines are now a health resort.

"It disappoints me to hear doctors give negative responses to it because I think they need to try it or at least speak to some of their patients that have done it. I've told my doctor I do it and he said if it helps, well that's good. I don't think he knows too much about it but for me it works and I'm not taking extra drugs." Said Cheryl

When Cheryl Borchert discovered a salt room had opened in Australia she hoped she could breathe easy. She'd battled chronic bronchitis and pneumonia for years "I couldn't sleep laying down I had 8 or 9 pillows behind me sitting up. If I tried to lay down I was gasping for breath." She said

In Poland and Astonia, Russia and Romania it's a registered part of their medical systems. David Linsday saw the healing effects on his sick father in Dublin and quickly opened Salt of the Earth here.

"My father had completely changed as a chronic sufferer of asthma, COPD and bronchitis, just the difference after salt therapy and the difference after 3 or 4 sessions was just unbelievable." David said

During sessions, machines grind up pharmaceutical salt to a fine dust that is then dispersed into the room and inhaled.

"What the salt then does is, it naturally draws fluid to it so therefore it helps relieve the inflammation of the airways, it then naturally breaks up all the congestion." He said

It's also used to treat skin conditions like eczema. Salt therapy has Therapeutic Goods of Australia approval but David is now pushing for a Medicare rebate.

Boris Carli turned to salt room therapy to help his 6 year old daughter with her asthma "We were very surprised after about 8 or 10 sessions it pretty much eliminated her condition completely so she's fit as a fiddle now." He said

Salt therapy rooms are popping up in tune with their popularity. David has now opted to expand using a franchise model to cope with demand. Other companies have already been running like Sydney's Salt Room. But Dr Charles Mitchell of the Asthma Foundation has reservations.

David says the proof is the change he sees in his clients some are even GP's "We've had people come in that I've had to help in from the car at the side of the road they've been so sick with CRPD, emphysema, they're not able to walk 5 or 10 yards. We also have AFL stars and we have a couple of Rugby League players coming to us at the moment and not to say we have a few doctors coming to us with their conditions, they've also referred some of their patients to us."

Six year old Giselle Porter may just think this is the oddest sand pit ever but her mum Dianne has been bringing her big brother Xavier here to help with his hay fever "He'd wake up sneezing 20 times before he even got to the bathroom each morning. His breathing improved he stopped sneezing his yes are no longer itchy." Said Dianne

About two million Australians suffer with asthma, most are children. Dr Marshal Plit of St Vincent's warns parents to maintain their children's mainstream medication when dealing with respiratory conditions.

Dianne disagrees "My children are sensitive to medication so anything that's natural that I guess can impact and change them for the better without the adverse reaction is so much healthier for them long term."

Asthma Assist 1800 645 130