The salt lamp seems to be something that fits well in this age of alternate medicine and pseudoscience. But do they actually do anything?
The website Real Simple ran a story recently with the headline, ‘Do Salt Lamps Actually Do Anything or Are They Just Pretty? Here’s What the Research Says’.
So, there’s a bit to unpack there. We had to find out what salt lamps were, have enough journalistic integrity to tamper down the automatic assumption that, no, they don’t do anything (and probably aren’t even that pretty), and on top of that, the always-irritating notion that there’s research going on into things which – on the surface – you’d not think such efforts were warranted.
We soldier on, beyond the headline.
Salt lamps (sometimes referred to as Himalayan salt lamps), per the Real Simple story, are a wellness product with a ‘controversial reputation’.
One presumes the only controversy that would stem from the wellness industry would be a product that had the first skerrick of remedial properties (“What? It works? But I was just putting a bunch of leaves in a pillowcase…”)
The article delves deeper: “A fixture of both spa decor and Instagram content, salt lamps are basically large, hollowed-out chunks of pink rock salt that contain a light bulb or other type of heating element.
“When a salt lamp is turned off, it looks like a large, decorative, salmon-colored crystal sitting on a shelf. When it’s turned on, it produces a soft (some might even say “soothing”) pinkish glow.”
Don’t we all.
The spurious, debatable, and in all likelihood entirely provably false health claims made by those who manufacture and sell salt lamps stem from the idea that they supposedly release negative ions into the air.
And in news that will send the Vegas oddsmakers into mass hysteria, “studies on the potential mental and physical health benefits … have largely come up empty, with no consistent or reliable scientific evidence of potential therapeutic effects.”
They’re said to produce negative ions, found generated naturally via waterfalls, rain showers, or thunderstorms. But in a blow to those in the pocket of Big Salt Lamp, “there’s also no evidence that salt lamps even produce and release these negative ions in the first place.”
Puja Uppal, DO, a board-certified family medicine physician, told Real Simple the lack of data suggests that anyone who buys a salt lamp is buying little more than a glowing rock.
“I tell patients it’s important to know the root cause of your symptoms,” Dr. Uppal says. “Using a salt lamp is like using a bandage over a cut: The bandage can worsen your initial cut by causing an infection. You keep getting new bandages and waste precious time that may be needed for a timely diagnosis, as in the case of skin cancer.”
So, yeah. In short, to answer the headline: No; Not even that much; “Stop wasting my time, I’m a researcher, give me something useful to investigate.”