Palm Harbor, FL, January 16, 2021 – When one thinks of the therapeutic use of Himalayan salt, one name comes to mind – Dr. Margaret Smiechowski. Considered to be North America’s foremost expert on Himalayan salt, Dr. Margaret single-handedly started the salt cave movement that is now sweeping the United States.
Dr. Margaret also grew up near the famous graduation tower in Ciechocinek, Poland. Graduation towers were originally built as part of salt manufacturing; by dropping salt water down a waterfall-like channel covered with branches, the salt would gather on the branches. Workers would then scrape off the salt, and as with the mine workers, experienced respiratory and immune benefits.
Coming from a culture where pure salt was used therapeutically, it was not a stretch for Dr. Margaret to want to use salt therapy in her work after moving to the United States in the 1990s. With a medical degree from Poland and her Homeopathic Doctor’s degree, she became interested in the therapeutic use of Himalayan salt, noting several key research studies from Germany and China touting its respiratory benefits especially. However, when she wanted to build her cave in the early 2000’s, not many Americans had even heard of Himalayan salt, and many were skeptical.
“It was hard to explain to people the concept of what I wanted to build. Many people laughed, unaware of the huge body of research to support the use of salt,” said Dr. Margaret. “Several holistic wellness centers even turned me down when I approached them to build my first cave.”
Thankfully, in 2007, Dr. Margaret was able to pull together her years of research and her desire to help people take control of their health with her vision for what a salt cave should look like. She built her first Himalayan salt cave in Rutland, Vermont – perhaps the first public salt cave in North America.
Dr. Margaret describes her original design simply: “It was rustic and cozy with a fireplace and fountain. There were thousands of pounds of Himalayan salt on the floor, walls, and ceiling. Salt was integrated into every aspect of the design somehow. The cave seated up to six people and we ran hour-long sessions where people would come in and relax in zero-gravity chairs. We kept it affordable so people would be willing to try it, and eventually it did take off.”
Due to a storm and subsequent flooding, however, the original cave was destroyed not even a year after it opened. Dr. Margaret was able to rebuild her cave in another location, expanding its seating capacity as well as adding to the tons of salt in the space. As people started seeing the relaxation benefits of the cave, more people visited it. Dr. Margaret then decided to build her version of a graduation tower as well…creating the first simulated graduation tower in the United States in 2010.
Seeing the success of her first salt endeavors, she wanted to build caves for others. Since 2007, she has built over 80 salt caves throughout the country, including caves in Chicago, Indiana, South Dakota, New York, and her own Oceanair Himalayan Salt Cave in Orleans, MA. and Palm Harbor, FL. While many companies offer the building of salt caves, Dr. Margaret prides herself on working with each cave owner to build the most creative, beneficial salt environment possible.
“I talk to each owner and see what the goals are. I look at the space they have. Sometimes I have to get really creative to fit a cave into the space. I want everyone who visits the caves to feel transported on a journey, as if they had just visited Wieliczka or Ciechocinek. I want them to leave feeling rejuvenated. Each cave offers wellness benefits but is also a unique work of art.”
Technology has also improved over time. “Oceanair has climate control that is based on the infectious disease systems used by hospitals,” says Dr. Margaret, “making them very safe, especially now.”
Himalayan salt is known for being anitbacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral – something everyone is thinking about now with the current COVID pandemic.
“I don’t think we can say that Himalayan salt therapy provided in our salt caves can prevent or cure COVID because the research hasn’t shown that yet. But at the very least, it can address respiratory issues, increase the body’s ability to fight off infections and recover, and the relaxation response cannot hurt. Himalayan salt can definitely work in a complementary way for treating COVID patients.”
Dr. Margaret Smiechowski is a pioneer in the Himalayan salt cave field, a trusted name in the industry, an entrepreneur, and an artist. Like her caves, she combines healing with creativity and has a vision for the world.
“I think everyone should visit Wieliczka once in their lives, but for those who cannot make the trip to Poland, I hope that my designs will bring a taste of salt therapy to them.”