Is it possible to cure asthma, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, sinusitis, allergies, acne, eczema and a host of other respiratory and skin conditions by simply sitting in a room and breathing salt?

Annett and Matthias Riebe, the husband-and-wife team behind Bellevue's newest (and only) salt therapy spa, the Saltminearium, certainly think so.

Popular in Eastern Europe, salt therapy spas replicate natural salt caves that have historically been used for their healing properties in places from Finland to Slovakia. And while there are few English-language clinical studies on its true effectiveness, proponents of the remedy claim to be free of long-standing ailments like asthma and psoriasis in as little as one session.

The Saltminearium includes two rooms with layered Himalayan salt bricks, one of which is especially equipped for children with a salt sandbox and various toys. Each of the "caves" has its own halo generator that releases a concentrated amount of dry microparticles of negatively ionized salt into the air. Currently guests just take a seat and breath, but the Rieves hope to add yoga classes and guided meditation sessions in the future.

I stopped by yesterday for a 45-minute session. Here's what I learned:

Above all else, the experience is relaxing. The room glows and changes around you while a waterfall produces an at-the-beach sensation and soothing music plays in the background. Towards the end, everything goes dark to reveal a map of the night sky above you. This is a great place for a nap.

As to the Saltminearium's healing powers? That I can't say. I've been battling a cold for what feels like an eternity, but today I still feel stuffy and congested. Maybe I need some more sessions. Or more DayQuil.

Want to try it for yourself? Call or email the spa to schedule an appointment and then let us know how it goes. Sessions are $45 each and a one-month unlimited pass is $225. Feel the effects at home by picking up a natural salt lamp or candle holder from the spa's retail area.

Check with your doctor before starting any new treatments, especially if you have a heart condition, organ transplant, or are pregnant.

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