Pollen counts are sky high and the hayfever struggle is real. Here’s how one lifelong sufferer, who’s thrown everything at the sneezing and snot, fared with salt therapy
If you’re pedaling relief for hayfever , I’m interested. I’ve suffered ever since my family moved into a field in the Midlands when I was ten, and the streaming eyes, bunged up nose and itchy throat set up camp every year from around May to September. Like a summer long festival of feverishness, there are always the same headline symptoms, varying in intensity depending on pollen levels and rarely significantly blunted by antihistamines, nasal sprays or eye drops (although there are exceptions there- Eyelergy for one is brilliant). I’ve tried barrier balms (occasionally effective until they melt away), bug-like sunglasses and remedying teas and tinctures alongside conventional treatments, and while some offer short-term relief, there’s scarcely ever a notable improvement in symptoms.
Hayfever hasn’t always loomed over my summers- when I lived by the coast in both New Zealand and Scotland, seasonal spluttering was almost non-existent, likely thanks to sea breezes carrying pollen inland, combined with lower levels of pollution ( air pollution prevents pollen from dispersing). Seeing as I can’t up sticks to the sea every spring, could a blast of salty air in the big city really make a difference?
Enter the salt pipe, which I assumed was some kind of hippyish drugs vessel when it was first introduced to me. Higher Nature’s take is a heavy, ceramic chamber, with a mouthpiece through which to breath in salt crystals. It looks more ornamental than medical, and is intended to be used for 15-20 minutes a day, by way of breathing in normally and exhaling (but not through the saltpipe).
How it works
Clinical studies have found salt therapy to be beneficial for a decrease in frequency of obstructive respiratory disorders such as bronchitis and asthma, and for improving the symptoms of hayfever by way of purifying air and helping to flush out pollen and pollution. Basically, you’re deep breathing which helps to clear your nose and airways in the first place, and the air you’re inhaling is “clean” and free of pollen particles.
The apparent benefits of breathing in salty air for the respiratory system came to light in particular when salt mines in Eastern Europe were used as bomb shelters in the 1940s, with those sheltering there reporting respiratory symptoms and shortness of breath easing while in the salt caves. As such, a salt inhaler aims to create a mini salt mine for your mouth and nose.
There’s no faff or assembly involved with this particular salt pipe- take out of box, attach to mouth and breathe, remembering not to breathe back into the pipe because that doesn’t work. You’ll notice quite a bit of ironic snuffling and coughing as you get used to it, but you should have gotten the hang of it after 15 minutes. Which is a long time to be attached to a fairly weighty salt vase, so settle down in front of Netflix for your salt therapy session. Apparently you’re supposed to do this twice a day, but I’m time poor on that front- once a day max it is.
Now for whether it actually works. It definitely helps to clear a bit of congestion and steady your breathing, and I felt less pressure around my sinuses after repeated use, but for general hayfever symptoms, it’s not an all-rounder- it won’t soothe scratchy eyes and it didn’t stem the urge to sneeze. My itchy throat does seem to have calmed down since I started my inhalation sessions, however, and given that it lasts for five years, it’s good value if it at least helps in the quest to debung, although fitting it in to daily life could be a challenge- I found myself frantically salt piping at around 1am once, which I don’t think is the general vibe. Put on a face mask, get your feet up and pipe, but in my experience thus far, it’s no substitute for a trip to the seaside for general allergic rhinitis relief. I might book a holiday on snotty health grounds…
The Salt Pipe, £29.95, buy online