PERU — Breathe in. Breathe out.

Chill while sitting on a Biomat filled with crushed amethyst crystals in one of four comfy chairs in the Bio-Detox Room of the Adirondack Breathe Easy Salt Cave on Bear Swamp Road in Peru.

Hands and feet rest against the pink glow of Himalayan salt domes.

It feels other worldly, almost as if one's ready for lift off, and that isn't a stretch for these space-age and new-old-age technologies that have attracted more than 2,500 visitors for halotherapy in the cave's first year of operation.

“It was good,” said Jessica Gamble, who owns the business with her husband John Hugues.

“We have about 20 to 30 regulars that come monthly.”

4 IN 1

The Bio-Detox Room is their latest expansion.

“It's like four therapies in one,” Gamble said.

“It consists of the Biomat, which is a FDA-approved medical device for pain and healing. It has infrared ray technology that is inside, which was pioneered by NASA in the '60s for their astronauts.”

Nobuhiro Yoshimizu, M.D., Ph.D., a Japanese doctor, took thermotherapy a step further with crushed amethyst crystals for a negative-ion effect.

“When you sit on the mat, it penetrates your body six to seven inches deep,” Gamble said.

“It starts heating up your core temperature from the inside out to about 140 degrees. It sounds hot, but it feels like you're just sitting on a heating pad.

“It boosts your immune system by 40 percent. It kills viruses and bacteria in your body. It helps blood circulation, oxygen flow, helps with pain and inflammation.”

In Japan, it is thought thermotherapy shrinks certain cancer cells and tumor cells.

That's not too far fetched because hyperthermia is used for certain cancer treatments, according to the American Cancer Society.

The Bio-Detox Room boosts the benefits of the Biomat by combining the session with the Himalayan salt detox domes.

“The biggest pores in our body are in our hands and feet,” Gamble said.

“When they're warmed up, they open up and the salts are going to draw the toxins out of your body and give you the 84 trace minerals.”

Each session runs $30 per person for 25 minutes or $50 for sessions in both the Bio-Detox Room and the Salt Cave.

SEARCH MISSION

Hugues and Gamble visited a dozen different salt caves throughout the United States and in Canada.

They designed their cave, whose signature features include an open-viewing window and a twilight ceiling twinkling with the constellation Orion.

The cave temperature is usually always between 68 and 70 degrees.

Its walls, floors and bench are made of 20,000 pounds of Himalayan salt imported from Pakistan.

Gamble and Hugues met with a couple of different builders before settling on Select Salt.

A halo generator disperses dry, pharmaceutical-grade salt ground very fine.

Though patrons can't see it, during each session the generator shoots the salt in the air to help saturate it.

Patrons recline in eight zero-gravity chairs or sit on a salt bench to breathe it in.

“The Himalayan salt bench is for people that can't sit low or want to sit on the bench for aches and pains,” Gamble said.

“It is handicapped accessible. We have had people come in with wheelchairs.”

The cave's ventilation system has two intakes and two outtakes.

Gamble likens it to a week at the ocean but with a lot cleaner air, and the bonus of 84 trace minerals such as potassium, magnesium and iron in the salt, which is antibacterial and anti-fungal.

“It helps boost your immune system, we give all cancer patients their first sessions for free,” Gamble said.

Patrons need to bring in a letter from their healthcare professional stating they have cancer and are getting treated.

“They get 50 percent off all their sessions,” she said.

“They come in and take the Salt Cave treatments, it boosts their immune systems and then when they do the Bio-Detox, they say it feels good for the pain that they're in.

“If it does shrink cancer cells, great, it's not a cure but who's to say alternative medicine won't help somebody.”

PINK IN PAKISTAN

Pakistan's Kewhra Salt Mine, also known as the Mayo Salt Mine, dates back to antiquity.

Khewran salt, known as Himalayan salt, is red, pink, off-white or transparent as evidenced in the salt surfaces glowing beneath twinkling LED lights in this Adirondack salt cave.

A doctor noticed back in the 1800s that miners there didn't have respiratory problems.

During wartime, people hid in the mines and noticed it improved their health.

The Salt Cave has helped Gamble's family and her personally.

For the past dozen years, Gamble has struggled with asthma, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ( COPD ), though she doesn't smoke.

“It dramatically changed our lives,” she said.

“Even people who don't have health problems enjoy it just to relax. People who don't have breathing problems actually say they can take a deeper breath. They didn't realize they were breathing deeply. They were shallow breathers. We've had a lot of good responses.”

The Salt Cave regularly has child friendly sessions, where they remove chairs, cover a sand table with salt and equip the children with buckets and shovels so they can play beach-style with the Himalayan salt.

“We have a lot of kids who have ADHD," she said.

"Their parents don't think they will be able to sit through it and play. They are allowed to play and a lot of them don't want to leave. It's quite interesting. Their parents say they go home and they mellow right out and they sleep better at night.”

MONTREAL MAGNET

The business owners marked their first year anniversary on July 7.

They also carry a line of salt products — salt lamps, Himalayan salt bath detox and Himalayan scented body scrub for dry skin, psoriasis, eczema.

The salts come from Pakistan through a New Jersey-based company.

Amethyst crystals are a favorite of Reiki practitioners.

“We have a heating pad made of amethyst crystals just like the Biomat,” Gamble said.

“It's pure amethyst crystals. You put it in the microwave, and it creates the negative-ion effect. When it heats up, it sends the same properties that the Biomat uses. The negative ions, your body absorbs it and that alone is supposed to alleviate pain.”

The Salt Cave attracts a lot of foot traffic from Montreal.

“The closest one over there is in Niagara Falls on the other side of the border,” Gamble said.

So, a lot of Canadians come over here. Half of the salt caves that are in the U.S. are owned by somebody in the medical field, a doctor or nurse or someone. The other half are massage. There are not too many that are family-owned. I think a lot of people open it to just add on to their business.”

Their Himalayan salt journey began when Hugues gave her a heart salt lamp one Valentine's Day, and then for a Mother's Day session at a salt cave.

It was his idea to open up the Adirondack Breathe Easy Salt Cave, where Gamble works and squeezes in her own halotherapy when she can.

“We did two years of research and personal health reasons, so we want to know the science behind it so we can explain to people what they are getting into,” Gamble said.

Email Robin Caudell:

rcaudell@pressrepublican.com

Twitter:@RobinCaudell