Knox couple finds business is worth its salt
By Samantha Beal
CLARION NEWS Writer
Isak Dinesen wrote, "The cure for anything is salt water sweat, tears, or the sea."
There may be plenty of opportunities to shed sweat or tears in Clarion County, but the sea is a little harder to reach.
We're 1,500 feet above sea level and about 325 miles from the ocean. The closest saltwater is nearly 80 miles away and limited to parts of the Allegheny River.
Fortunately, there's a surplus of salt nearby. That's thanks to Ron and Cindy Conner of Knox, who opened Himalayan Salt & Body in November 2018.
"It was my husband, Ron, who first took me to a salt room," explained Cindy in an email to the CLARION NEWS. "He had read a lot of information on salt rooms and insisted that we go."
Ron became interested in halotherapy the holistic practice of breathing salt air after Cindy developed a bad sinus infection and couldn't seem to get better. As halotherapy is particularly aimed at respiratory health, the Conners gave it a try.
"It was new to us, but after several sessions we were sold on it," recalled Cindy.
Halotherapy takes place in a man-made room lined with Himalayan salt. The salt is believed to release negative ions into the air to counterbalance positive ions contracted from things like electronics.
"Homes, offices, factories and shopping malls are places where we encounter an excess of positive ions," explained Cindy. "Surrounding yourself in negative ions (from our thousands of pounds of Himalayan salt) reduces the body of anxiety, stress and the bad effects from those positive ions."
Mined mostly in Pakistan near the foothills of the Himalayas, Himalayan salt is redder than table salt because of 84 trace minerals: Iron, potassium, magnesium and calcium are four of the most prominent.
Geologically, Himalayan salt is pre-Jurassic Era, or between 250 and 800 million years old.
Health buffs consider it the cleanest salt available: Due to the depths from which it's extracted, Himalayan salt has limited contact with outside pollutants until it's mined.
The Conners' salt therapy room has chunks of salt in the walls and grains of salt on the floor. Salt dust is released into the air sporadically during each 40-minute session to create an atmosphere like an ocean breeze.
"Our halotherapy generator will promote the cleansing (of) your upper respiratory system," added Cindy, "thus leaving you feeling relaxed and refreshed."
When I went for a halotherapy session with my mother, we warmed our feet on heated salt blocks and ate Dan Smith's chocolate from chilled salt slabs. Enya played while a screen showed the slow patterns of nature.
We were treated to zero gravity chairs and soft blankets when we settled into the salt room. The salt breeze wasn't immediately noticeable, though I tasted it in the base of my throat near the end of our session.
We also underwent a little chromotherapy. The Conners hand-designed 300 tiny bulbs to resemble stars and installed them in the salt room's ceiling.
"The star field on the ceiling is often used in other salt caves," said Cindy. "Chromotherapy (the use of color) is so important in healing and we wanted to incorporate it into our sessions."
While the Conners designed the salt room to especially target respiratory issues like allergies and asthma, halotherapy isn't just for recuperation.
Cindy hopes to offer visitors a safe and calm environment for relaxing and meditating. She believes the salt room also revitalizes the skin and rejuvenates the mind.
"(It) proved to speed up the recovery of my sinus infection," added Cindy.
The Conners spent two years designing and building the salt room. They used mostly locally sourced and eco-friendly materials.
Himalayan salt was specially cut and imported.
Local handyman Greg Shaffer did the building's remodeling and installed the salt himself.
The room is furnished with 120-year-old wood in the ceiling and trim, a mural of a salt mine and mine artifacts.
"Our salt room is temperature controlled to maintain the anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties of the salt," said Cindy.
She advises first-time visitors to wear a light jacket or sweatshirt and plan to relax.
Did halotherapy work for me? My sinuses drained and I tasted salt in the following days. Perhaps I felt more of the effects because I went into my session with a head cold.
Or maybe the cure is in the patient. I've never known a fuzzy blanket, an Enya song and a 40-minute mediation to hurt anyone.
"Halotherapy is not meant to replace any doctor's prescribed medications or treatments," stressed Cindy, "but salt therapy has been known for thousands of years to promote healing."
You may take my testimonial with a grain of salt, but my experience was nothing less than generous.
Mom and I left with smiles and a bag of first-visit goodies. We've already talked about going back which, I believe, is the sign of a successful venture.
The salt room is not designed for small children, but teenagers are welcome if they accompany an adult.
"We want Himalayan Salt & Body to be a destination in Knox," concluded Cindy. "(This is a place) for anyone who is looking to unplug, unwind, relax and let their body enjoy the natural benefits of meditation and self-healing."
The salt room is open noon to 7 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at 605 W. State St. in Knox.
Himalayan Salt & Body also provides zero EMF infrared sauna sessions and sells an assortment of salt products. Himalayan Salt & Body is on TripAdvisor and Facebook.