By Amina Nazarli
“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea” Danish writer Isak Dinesen said.
When one hears the word “salt”, first thing that comes to mind is the white granules that come spilling out of a porous little shaker that sits on the kitchen table. Some may even know the stuff as Sodium Chloride — NaCl. However, “salt” actually encompasses a number of chemical combinations and forms.
Salt is the last relic of the ocean where life was born. Salt has influenced the whole gamut of history and its name is linked to hundreds of geographical locations.
For centuries, people have trusted the benefits of salt therapy to strengthen their immune systems and relieve respiratory illnesses. Ancient healers and philosophers recommended salt inhalation for the health problems.
The salt therapy is offering a unique form of alternative therapy that provides with relief from many respiratory ailments. Salt is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial.
Researchers have proved that people with chronic upper respiratory conditions, seasonal allergies, sinusitis, bronchitis and skin disorders can derive significant benefits from the salt therapy.
Thus, from the ancient Greeks to modern-day doctors, medical experts have championed amazing affects of Salt Cave Therapy aka Halotherapy.
Nakhchivan, one of the oldest regions not only in Azerbaijan, but also in the world, is home to a magical salt cave - Duzdag.
The area with 130 million tons of natural salt reserve is located 12 kilometers from Nakhchivan city. This Salt Mountain of Azerbaijan is known not only for clear and pure salt, but also for its healing properties. The area has huge salt deposits to have been naturally formed million years before.
The extraction of salt in the territory of Nakhchivan goes back to the Stone Age. The legend says that some 6,000 years ago, during the time of Prophet Noah, salt was mined here. Long before the world-famous "Silk Road", "Salt Road" was laid from Nakhchivan to the countries of the Middle East. From here salt was exported to these countries and, in particular to the Sumerians, who considered the salt sacred and worshiped it.
In 1970, during an archaeological excavation and research in the Nakhchivan Salt Mine, a large salt cave was discovered, which turned out to be the most ancient salt bath. It was revealed that people living in Nakhchivan have been aware of salt therapy long ago, whereas in Europe salt treatment became known only in the 19th century. Further studies showed that no one working in salt mines had any diseases such as bronchitis and asthma.
The stone axes, tools and kaylo found here were sent to the museums of Nakhchivan, St. Petersburg and Tbilisi.
The salt of Nakhchivan differs from sea salt. The real Nakhchivan salt is environmentally friendly and does not contain heavy minerals and serves as a cure for many diseases. Magnesia in the composition of this salt creates a condition for use by patients with cardiovascular diseases.
In Duzdag, unique salt caves, where it is possible to get rid of respiratory diseases, are located at an altitude of more than 1,173 meters above sea level. Now a modern wellness center operates here – Duzdag Physiotherapy Center, which has no analogue in the world.
Heart of the mountain
The Duzdag sanatorium is located in the heart of Salt Mountain, which was the place of salt extraction for many years.
The tunnels of the Center are located under the mountain, and the walls are covered with salt plates. The thickness of the underground salt mountain is 8.2 meters, the air temperature is 18-20 degrees, and the humidity varies from 24-50 percent.
The 300-people-designed chambers are located at a depth of 300 meters from the top of the Duzdag Mountain. Two chambers are designed for male, two for female, and one for children, where they sleep, play, talk, eat, and spend at least seven to ten hours.
Today Duzdag is considered the best center for the treatment of not only asthma, but allergic diseases, it is especially effective in the treatment of asthma in childhood. Often, just one course is enough for treatment. The sanatorium has the world's highest efficiency of curing severe forms of bronchial asthma.
Duzdag is the leader among all centers in Europe in treatment of pulmonary diseases and allergies, which does not soften the passage of the disease, but radically destroys the emerging nervous reflex mechanism of excitation of the respiratory center.
With a preventive purpose, 2-3 single visits are enough and even a 10-12 hour stay in the sanatorium's chambers helps to improve ventilation of the lungs and bronchial tree, as well as heart and blood circulation and remove stress.
Recent researches showed that salt has a huge cosmetic effect, as well. Italy and Germany are developing a new trend in cosmetology. The studies show that the postoperative period after a number of cosmetic operations is faster in the case of receiving 5-8 sessions in the salt cave.
Today, the Duzdag sanatorium is experiencing a renaissance. Its popularity challenged the authority to build the only five-star hotel in the autonomous republic a kilometer away from the sanatorium.
The 5-star hotel, built in the arms of the mountains in 2015, stands out for its modernity. The construction of this modern comfortable hotel gave impetus to a sharp increase in the number of foreign tourists, who come here to relax and improve their health. Citizens of Azerbaijan undergo free treatment in the sanatorium.
Every year the number of sick children coming here from Turkey, Iran, CIS countries, Germany, Poland and other European countries is growing.
In a nutshell, Duzdag is of value to see, to benefit and to admire.
Amina Nazarli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @amina_nazarli
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