As a child, James Rizzuto, owner of Salt Escape, in Plano, watched his mother suffer with severe asthma. She would have asthmatic attacks in the middle of the night, and doctor visits and frequent trips to the emergency room were common. Eventually, it got so bad that the physician provided Rizzuto’s father with shots of adrenaline to administer to his mother when necessary. “I remember her sitting at the kitchen table, shaking,” says Rizzuto.
“The woman was a prisoner of her illness, and it left a big impression on me.”
Years later, when his own daughter developed asthma, he watched once again as a loved one struggled to breathe. “She would get sick, but couldn’t recover like others,” he notes. “It seems that every Christmas, she would end up with pneumonia, so we would spend the holidays in the hospital. She takes all of these pills and medication and they all have side effects, which can be very scary,” he says. “I knew there had to be a better way.”
He researched alternatives and discovered the salt rooms of Europe. Fascinated, he learned that Felix Botchkowski, a Polish health official, had pioneered salt therapy, also known as halotherapy, in the mid-18th century. Botchkowski published a book in 1843 noting that salt miners never experienced lung-related ailments such as asthma, pneumonia or chronic bronchitis. Even miners that had respiratory disease before they began working in the mines felt better and had fewer symptoms as they spent more and more time in the caves.
Eventually, salt spas, rooms and caves became common throughout Europe, Russia, Israel and other countries to simulate the therapeutic effects of actual salt mines. At the time of his research, salt therapy rooms did not exist in the United States and Rizzuto recognized that it would be an exciting venture, but wasn’t prepared to open a business.
He kept his eye on the progress of this holistic therapy, and it wasn’t long before salt rooms began popping up around the country. By 2011, he was ready to launch a spa in Texas. In July, the Salt Escape therapy wellness center opened in Plano to provide drug-free therapy for respiratory and skin ailments using salt’s natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. At the center, halotherapy takes place in two rooms—one for adults and one for children. “For adults, we want to create a calm, peaceful atmosphere where they can relax while benefiting from the salt therapy,” explains Rizzuto. “The room includes a zero-gravity chair, background music and a visual underwater video. For kids up to and including 12-year-olds, we want to create a fun space where they can hang out and play. We have movies, toys, coloring books and more in the room to make them feel comfortable.”
Every wall surface, including the floor and ceiling, is covered with natural rock salt to create a sterilized negative ion environment. Halogenerators, or dry saline generators, are used to crush the salt into small particles for inhalation. Rizzuto says that these particles are then blown into the air so that clients are breathing in a very high concentration of salt. He notes that one 45-minute session is like spending three days breathing in the ocean air.
“These particles can help with the relief of symptoms from upper and lower respiratory conditions such as allergies, asthma, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, sinus infections and others,” he notes. “Salt therapy has even shown to be beneficial for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.”
Rizzuto says that he takes great satisfaction is witnessing the transformation of clients. “They are feeling better; they are managing their own conditions, and salt therapy is paving the way to help them do that. It’s a great feeling.”
In an effort to help individuals become even more aware of their overall health and wellness, and to provide solutions for natural healing, Salt Escape recently expanded its offerings to include massage therapy by Dana Alexander; yoga nidra classes with Jessica Craft and reflexology by Mary Ellen Dorey. “Our goal is to give folks options,” says Rizzuto. “I always say that life is about choices: the ones you make and the ones that are presented to you. How can you make good choices if you don’t find alternatives?”
Location: 2100 Dallas Pkwy., Ste. 140, Plano. For more information, call 972-378-4945 or visit SaltEscape.com.