Robert “Bob” Duff, owner of The Salt Den, in Latham, was stationed in Germany while serving in the Navy when he first experienced the healing properties of salt caves. After visiting several salt mines in Austria and Switzerland, and touring the depths of those mines in rail cars, Duff, a 22-year hospital corpsman chief, noticed his head felt clearer and he could breathe more easily.
A year earlier, his mother had discovered the therapeutic benefits of halotherapy (salt therapy) and encouraged Duff’s father to use the modality to help relieve symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. This intrigued Duff, and after his tour of duty, he dove in and began researching the healing effects of salt therapy. Through his enquiry, he learned that salt, a natural antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory agent, was beneficial for a wide variety of health issues.
With his background in Navy medicine, this healer has a soft spot in his heart for veterans with health problems. “There’s a lot of veterans dealing with big health issues like lung and breathing disorders from being exposed to dust, sand and smoke while serving duty,” he says. So Duff and his wife, Louise, decided to open a business that would focus on bringing relief to those veterans and others in the community that are dealing with chronic or acute health conditions. “Our whole aim, really, is to help others increase their quality of life,” he explains. “We all need access to resources that help us feel better, in addition to a place where we can come and truly relax and detach from the stresses of everyday life.”
The Salt Den, an urban Himalayan salt cave, officially opened its doors for business on April 1. It features 70,000 pounds of Himalayan Salt that creates a negative ion atmosphere, along with a halo generator machine which smoothly pulverizes pharmaceutical-grade salt into micron-sized particles, to create a therapeutic environment. One step into this 74-degree cave, and visitors are instantly soothed by a tranquil atmosphere filled with relaxing music and nature sounds. “It’s the negative ions that help make a trip to the beach so healing. But if you can’t get to the beach, we bring that salt air to you. One session in our cave is like being at the beach for four days,” says Duff, who notes that breathing in the salt cave air helps clear the sinus cavity, clean out the lungs and reduce asthma and allergy symptoms. “It also reconditions the skin and soothes conditions like psoriasis and eczema,” he notes.
Since opening, Duff has added several other complementary modalities, including a large, private, glass-fronted infrared sauna. “It penetrates up to one-and-a-half inches below the skin’s surface to detoxify and eliminate toxins at the cellular level,” he says. “It’s great for anyone diagnosed with cancer, immune disorders, heart disease, pain or inflammation, and a host of other ailments. Plus, you can breathe much easier in this sauna than a traditional sauna.”
Those seeking an easy way to rejuvenate and feel younger will appreciate the Red Light Therapy bed. “The technology, developed by NASA, is really good for your skin and helps restore collagen fiber, which increases elasticity and helps with a number of skin conditions. This long-term therapy with no UV rays produces results in as little as four weeks and significant results in six weeks. Best of all, it just feels good,” says Duff.
The Salt Den also offers massage therapy services, including Swedish, CranioSacral Therapy, myofascial release therapy, post-surgical massage, pre- and postnatal massage therapy and other clinical massage therapies which increase circulation, muscular and joint functions, and reduce pain.
Nine months into this heart-centered entrepreneurial venture, Duff says he couldn’t be more pleased with how things are going. A journey through The Salt Den’s social media platforms yields a vast field of positive praise and five-star ratings for Duff’s salt cave. “It makes us happy, seeing all the encouraging feedback from people who came to see us. And they keep coming back! We love that our customers love what we’re doing here. We really could not have done it without our great staff. We’re fortunate to have them on board. They really help to create that friendly, inviting, healing atmosphere that we are able provide to our community.”
The Salt Den is located at 654 Watervliet Shaker Rd., in Latham. For more information, call 518-785-7258 or visit nySaltDen.com.
Erin Lehn Floresca is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.