What do you do if you you’ve mined out your salt mine? Why, turn it into a haven for asthma sufferers, of course!
In Soviet times a spell in the salt mines was the fate of dissidents and criminals. But today the glittering tunnels below Solotvyno in western Ukraine have been transformed into a more benign destination: a haven for people with asthma and other respiratory diseases.
Doctors at Solotvyno’s allergological hospital dispatch patients to dank chambers 300 metres below ground, where a unique microclimate is said to ease their coughing and wheezing. The hospital, set among rolling hills near the border with Romania, started as a small clinic almost 30 years ago but is now a luxury complex serving about 6,000 people a year.[…] Dr Chonka said the air in the tunnels helped to lessen the respiratory tract’s sensitivity to allergens. “People who had a number of treatment courses were cured from asthma for 15 years or more,” he said.
The hospital is said to be targetting British patients, because of the high incidence of asthma in the UK. British medical experts, however, seem to be sceptical of the health benefits. I suspect this is mostly due to the short supply of salt mines in the Home Counties.