Environmental pollution is present in the air we breathe and, like us, horses have a similar respiratory system and are exposed to the same pollutants. Microscopic pollutants in the air can slip past the body’s defences and penetrate deep into the respiratory and circulatory systems causing a number of health issues including, but not limited to equine asthma, heaves, pleuropneumonia, COPD and skin issues such as mud fever, sweet itch and atopic dermatitis.
Halotherapy, sometimes referred to as dry salt therapy, is a drug free treatment using pharmaceutical grade Sodium Chloride NaCl (salt). Using sodium chloride in the human medical world is nothing new; we use IV saline to rehydrate and replace electrolytes, for wound cleaning and irrigation and in nebulisers amongst other things. Why? Well sodium chloride has a number of useful properties.
It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits. For horses with respiratory issues, it can help with mucocillary clearance, which is the body’s natural mechanism for clearing the lungs of inhaled particles and pathogens. Horses have a large lung capacity and often have issues with normal mucocillary clearance. They, like us, can experience extra mucus, inflammation and restricted breathing. The sodium chloride helps to thin the mucus, making it easier for the body to expel it and the inhaled particles that it contains.
The sodium chloride is placed into a machine called a halogenerator which grinds it into micro particles and disperses them into the air as a dry aerosol. These dry micro particles are then inhaled by the horse and go to work in the horses’ respiratory system, clearing secretions and pollutants, resulting in improvements to the horses’ lung function. Of the dry micro particles that are not inhaled, some will naturally find their way onto the coat of the animal and will be absorbed through the epidermis, as dry salt is ultra-absorbent, thus also addressing skin complaints via the integumentary system.