Salt caves (Solne Jeskyne), seem to be all the rage in Prague at the moment. The health benefits, especially as a preventative means of avoiding seasonal colds and flu, in both adults as well as kids, are well documented. So, recently I decided to take my 3-year-old for a 45-minute visit to a ‘cave’ in our neighbourhood.
I was surprised by the location, which was smack in the middle of the residential area in a large housing estate in Prague 8. Right off the street and on the ground floor with easy pram and buggy access/storage. We had to make an appointment by phone and then arrive 10 minutes prior to the start time, in order to leave enough time to take off our jackets and change into our slippers. As Albie and I forgot to bring ours, we had to wear disposable plastic shoe covers instead. We then got ushered through a door into a darkened room, where we would spend the next part of an hour together with another mother and her daughter.
The minute I stepped inside this artificial cave, I could smell the high concentration of salt in the air. It was designed to look like the inside of a stony castle. Every thing around us was white and made of salt (2000 kilos of it in fact, originating from both the Dead & Black Seas and supplemented with Himalayan salt crystals) - the walls, ceiling and the ground were all covered in thick layers of sea salt. In the corner was the gentle sound of water coming down a small fountain, and this was accompanied by soft relaxation music humming in the background. The lighting was subdued and several bricks of the salt ‘castle’ walls were imbedded with special coloured lights that kept changing slowly but regularly from green to yellow, blue, orange etc. The small starry lights on the ceiling also kept changing, and this made the room feel more vibrant.
There were deck chairs with blankets scattered around the room, and very importantly, a large box of toys and a small slide for kids. Albie spent quite some time loading the trucks with salt crystals and transporting them from one part of the cave to another. It was like playing in a very clean and healthy sand pit - on a day when it was about -4 degrees Celsius outside! I was able to just sit around, relax and soak in the atmosphere. After us, there was a group of about 10 kindergarten kids slotted in for a session, so it became was a bit livelier!
The whole experience for us was very positive, and we didn’t even need to resort to the small TV built into the wall to keep little ones entertained with cartoons during periods of boredom. I felt relaxed and invigorated and have already booked additional sessions over the next few weeks.
Even though both Albie and I enjoyed ourselves, the real purpose of visiting salt caves is medicinal and healing. The mother who was in the room with us at the same time, for instance, had been coming for about 3 weeks and said that her 2-year-old daughter’s runny nose, which she had not been able to cure for months (since she began kindergarten), was now finally subsiding!
Here is a bit of history -
For centuries, people have taken advantage of the natural health benefits of spending time in underground salt mines. The idea of building artificial caves above ground originated a few decades ago in Poland and now others have sprung up in countries all around the world, including Germany, Israel, Russia and the USA (source: http://www.sjhnezdenska.cz). A very simple example of the medical application of salt as a mineral, is the common home remedy of gargling with salt solution in order to fight a sore throat. Since medicinal salt also contains many other elements, an inhalation session in a salt cave can speed up their absorption into the body and have a positive effect on our internal organs.
Some of the minerals found in a salt cave include bromine (lowers blood pressure, regulates the nervous system), iron (an essential component of hemoglobin, a cure for anemia, improves muscle strength and concentration, reduces susceptibility to infection), copper (present in trace amounts in the human body, has anti fungal properties, affects the synthesis of hemoglobin and the endochrinal glands such as the pituitary or thyroid) and selenium (fights viral infections, in combination with vitamin E prevents malignant tumors and heart disease, blocks free radicals, slowing down the skin’s aging process).
Hence, regular therapy sessions in a salt cave, may often be prescribed during the treatment of various conditions and diseases, such as:
LUNG AND BRONCHIAL CONDITIONS: bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis with asthmatic elements, chronic pneumonia other lung and bronchial conditions.
HEART AND CIRCULATORY SYSTEM CONDITIONS: circulatory insufficiency, post heart attack hypertension.
ALIMENTARY TRACT CONDITIONS: stomach and duodenal ulcers, gastritis, colitis, Crohn’s Disease.
SKIN CONDITIONS: psoriasis, dermatitis.
AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDERS: circulatory disorders caused by a disturbance in the higher levels of the regulation of blood vessel activity dysfunction of large bowel movement.
ALLERGIES, OBESITY, NEUROSES AND OTHER PSYCHOLOGICAL CONDITIONS:caused by pre-existing chronic conditions, neuroses and stress due to exhaustion, stress caused by a deficiency of micro elements.(source: http://www.biznetmall.com/saltcaves)
In order to enjoy the health benefits from visiting a salt cave, it is recommended that for the first month, you visit 2-3 times per week (each session about 45mins long), for one month, take a break for about 4 weeks, and then continue to absolve 1 visit per week thereafter. Many people notice a visible improvement in their condition after just a few weeks.
Salt caves are believed to be very beneficial for children from the age of 1 ½. Many caves welcome mothers with young children to come along and ear-mark special sessions during the day when the cave is available just for them.
Salt caves are not suitable for people who suffer from claustrophobia, have low blood pressure, an over-active thyroid or are undergoing treatment for cancer.
Cost per session:
Adults: 150 CZK
Students/pensioners 100 CZK
Children under 6: Free (must be supervised by an adult)
Additional child under 6: 70 CZK
Children 6-15 years: 90 CZK
Family (2A + 2K under 6): 370 CZK
Special offer – buy 5 entries and get one free (5+1)
Special offer – buy 10 entries and get two free (10+2)
Business Hours: Mon:closed; Tue-Fri: 0900-2000; Sat-Sun:1000-1900
NB: If you’d like to find a salt cave nearer to you, just search through the Czech search engine: seznam.cz and then type in : solne jeskyne v praze. An extensive list will appear.
OPEN: All year round (but some caves may close during the summer months of July-Aug)
ADDRESS: SOLNA JESKYNE HNEZDENSKA - Hnezdenska 735/6, 18100 Prague 8 - Troja; Tel: 737 277 764 or 270 005 089 (only works during business hours)
DIRECTIONS: From Kobylisy Metro stop (Red Line C) take bus 102, 144, 152, 177, or 200 to the bus stop of either Krakov or Polyklinika Mazurska and walk for 350m in the direction of the high-rise buildings, and it will be on your right. Lots of free parking is also available on the street.
FURTHER INFORMATION: http://www.sjhnezdenska.cz (in czech only)