Walking into the Salt Room in Woodbury means literally walking into a room made of salt. The walls, ceiling, floors, all are coated with hundreds of particles of salt.
Medicinal salt, that is.
Its purpose may not be to cleanse the pallet, rather clear out respiratory systems suffering from harsh winters, infections and long-term illnesses like asthma and cystic fibrosis.
Originally a European concept, the Salt Room started in the United States in Orlando, Florida with the Woodbury location now being fifth in the nation.
Afton resident Gloria Wahrenbrock opened up the Salt Room in the Eagle Valley Marketplace after trying the treatment herself to cure bacterial pneumonia that she picked up overseas.
“It can be a fatal kind of bacteria,” she said. “I came back and I was terribly sick.”
Wahrenbrock had many symptoms that indicated something had gone awry on her trip. She couldn’t breathe, her chest felt tight, and her lungs were filled with fluids.
“I was pretty gray,” she said.
When she returned to her second home in Florida, she walked by a place with the sign “Inhale, Exhale, Stay Well.”
“That sign just spoke to me,” Wahrenbrock said.
So she walked into the Salt Room, sat down in a recliner and breathed in salty air blown through a generator.
“That night I didn’t need my inhaler,” she recalled.
After a few sessions, she no longer needed a nebulizer or antibiotics either.
Her personal experience inspired her to bring the unique treatment back to Minnesota where she owns two massage therapy businesses in Hudson and Stillwater.
Wahrenbrock purchased the Salt Room trademark and partnered with Lori Sandmon who runs the spa section of the business.
The anti-inflammatory salt is also helpful in treating skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, Wahrenbrock said, which is why she decided to have a private room for those patients.
Each of the three rooms is slightly different with the first geared toward children who get to play in the salt with dump trucks and shovels, while their parents sit and inhale the vapors.
The FDA-approved salt is especially helpful to children with asthma and cystic fibrosis, Wahrenbrock said.
“It really helps out a lot with alleviating all of the symptoms,” she said. “You sit in a very relaxing environment.”
One of the simplest ways to relax is to close off one nostril while taking deep breaths through the other, a tip the Salt Room employees start off each 45-minute session with.
The Salt Room is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.