Today Tonight - Salt Therapy

It's on dinner tables across the country ... but now salt, is also being used as a therapy for breathing problems.

As a new born baby, little Skarlet suffered with respiratory issues

"The first time she had croup was 2 o'clock in the morning, you wake up and your child can't breathe, it's the worst thing in the world" Mum Rachel explains, "were in and out of hospital every 2 to 3 weeks".

At 8 months, Mum Rebecca took her to a paediatrician who diagnosed her with asthma.

"She would get wheezy usually before bed depending on the weather".

Now two, Skarlet's been on medication ever since

"I said to the pharmacist is there anything else you can suggest"

She was recommended salt therapy ... in the form of a small machine that blows fine salt particles into the air, while Skarlet's sleeping

"I was very sceptical and I didn't think it was going to work, but I was willing to try anything"

Within weeks, mum and dad notice a difference

"We haven't had an episode since we've had the machine".

Salt therapy has been around for hundreds of years, but has only recently taken off in Australia, with salt rooms opening up across the country

"It's big in Europe lots of places have salt rooms where you sit and inhale salt pushed through filters" Perth Naturopath Val Allen says.

Now a new machine is allowing people to have salt therapy at home, Perth naturopath Val Allen was introduced to Salinplus by her patients.

Val Allen says the machine helps people breathe easy by clearing the airways

"It enables the body to inhale these little salt particles that help drain and clear the mucous away from any of the upper respiratory areas"

Professor Mark Everard from The Asthma Foundation has reservations

"It's not inconceivable it may have some benefit in some people but there is such a range of respiratory problems there with different mechanisms its hard to understand how it improves everybody" he says.

The device is yet to be clinically trialled and he's urging sufferers not to give up their prescribed medications

"The rational and testing of it leaves a lot of questions so certainly at the moment couldn't recommend it as a replacement for standard therapy"

For all their married lives, Kathy and Bob Haynes have both been snorers

"I used to wake up in the night try to get back to sleep and Kathy was snoring, just say roll over Kath".

A pharmacy assistant, Kathy brought home the machine to see if it could help and within a week, they say their nights changed

"We've had the machine we sleep like babies and I don't snore".

With salt therapy gaining popularity ... doctors say people shouldn't abandon their regular medications ... but could try salt as an additional treatment

"If there is a benefit for some people and they can reduce their does a little bit well that would be great, but my suspicion is that that's going to be relatively few patients".

Others stand by it saying it can't hurt to try, won't hurt you and you will be surprised at the difference. There are fantastic benefits for anyone suffering from hay fever, sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma"

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