The Madeleine Brand Show

Pass the Salt

We went to what we thought would be a story for our segment Weird L.A.: a place called the Salt Chalet in Encino (I think the picture captures the weirdness I was hoping for)

Here's how it works - you lounge in a salt-filled room for 45 minutes while air ionized with Dead Sea Salt is pumped into the room. Salt room boosters say it improves all sorts of bronchial diseases, from asthma to cystic fibrosis.

You can understand why my skeptics' hackles were raised sky high...or as high as the meringue ceiling whorls in the salt therapy room.

But the young couple who run it seem totally rational and well meaning. And the customers I interviewed were very enthusiastic. One woman came from San Francisco to spend a week at the Salt Chalet. She said after three days, she is no longer wheezing. Another said she has stopped using her prescription medicine. The way the owners explained it to me, salt opens up the airways and acts as an anti-bacterial agent.

There are no scientific studies on "halotherapy" to back up any of the medical claims.

But, who wouldn't benefit from 45 minutes in a quiet place after you've battled the 101 to get to Encino?

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