If you’ve got respiratory allergies like me, you spend a fair amount of time figuring out how to make your life less sneezy, less wheezy, and less sniffly. Respiratory allergies are no fun and no joke: besides the need to carry tissues everywhere and the potential for development into more substantial health problems, they’re taxing on your immune system, making you more susceptible to viruses and infections. Allergies are, in fact, the product of an overactive immune system. While it may seem like a good thing to have an overachiever for an immune system, it can unfortunately turn against you.
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I’ve spent years trying to dust- and dander-proof my home as much as possible. I buy hypoallergenic pillows, vacuum and dust constantly, and haul my mattress out into the sunny Colorado outdoors as often as possible to kill dust mites. (This works.) Respiratory allergies now affect 20% of the US population, so there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this article, you’re one of us.
But wait, this is an article about Himalayan salt lamps, isn’t it? Indeed it is, and as a former skeptic who now keeps one plugged in and turned on all the time in my room (except when I’m sleeping, since it’s a little bit too bright) I can personally attest to the benefits. Himalayan salt lamps are created in one of two ways: a light bulb is placed in the middle of a chunk of Himalayan salt, which glows and heats up when it is powered on, or a bulb is placed in the middle of a bowl with chunks of Himalayan salt. My lamp is the former kind; my mom actually has the latter and likes mine better, but she’s not an allergy sufferer and enjoys hers mostly because it’s beautiful.
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And salt lamps are. They create a soft pink glowing light that isn’t quite enough to read by but gives a warm glow to any room or area they’re lit. The really cool thing about Himalayan salt lamps, and what has made them relevant for me, is that they create negative ions. Contrary to what they sound like, negative ions are actually a really good thing. Exposure to negative ions can boost mood and shows significant decreases in stress and depression, negative ions have been so thoroughly studied recently -and with such optimistic results- that some researchers think they may be an effective alternative to prescription medications for some patients. Negative ions abound in nature -they can be found in huge concentrations around waterfalls and after thunderstorms- but aren’t found much in our homes, especially given our increased reliance on technology. While negative ions are good, positive ions are bad for your health, and computers and other technological equipment are massive positive ion-generating machines.
Negative ions have also been shown to bond with allergens, because allergens are positively charged. And salt lamps are wonderful producers of negative ions. While the research on this is still inconclusive, reports from allergy sufferers seem to attest to the power of Himalayan salt lamps in reducing allergies. And that includes this author. I am a huge skeptic of ion generators and so-called homeopathic remedies, but I was gifted a Himalayan salt lamp and found that the air in my room smelled better, cleaner, and brighter. I now sleep better, wake up with fewer allergy symptoms, and feel more refreshed and energized since making this simple change in my life. I now keep the salt lamp on constantly.
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Not an allergy sufferer? Negative ions still help in an abundance of ways, mostly by canceling out positive ions. While mechanical negative ion generators have been called into question for their effectiveness and are no longer recommended by the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, Himalayan salt lamps don’t function in the same way. By generating negative ions in a natural way, they create a much fresher, more outdoorsy environment anywhere they are placed. Much better for your health, whether you have allergies or not.