They look pretty and add a warm, pinkish glow to a room. Himalayan salt lamps are also believed to have a number of health benefits, from improving mood and boosting the immune system to drawing pollutants from the air. These claims are yet to be fully backed up by science and more studies are needed. The lamps are carved from pink salt mined from the Himalayan mountain range, and many choose them purely for decorative purposes. Whether they have any health benefits beyond that, it's important to take the claims with a pinch of salt.
Positive Into Negative
Cellphones, microwaves and computers are believed to create positive ionization in the body, while Himalayan salt lamps are said to produce negative ions – neutralizing the positive charge. But it's yet to be proven whether Himalayan salt contains high enough concentrations of negative ions to have a significant impact.
It's claimed that the lamps attract toxins and pollutants, carried through the air by trace water molecules and deposited on the surface. Scientists agree that this is possible but warn that the anti-pollutant effects will be minimal. The rock's relatively small surface area limits its power to clean and purify the air.
This benefit is partly linked to the claim that the lamps neutralize positive ions and clean the air, which is yet to be proven. Studies have shown, however, that replacing bright lights with dimmer, more soothing lamps towards the end of the day can aid sleepiness, better preparing you for bedtime. Harsh lights, on the other hand, delay the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. So switching to a Himalayan salt lamp in the early evening could help you to relax and wind down.
A handful of studies has found exposure to air highly charged with negative ions may increase levels of the mood-boosting chemical serotonin. People with symptoms of depression reported improvements in their mood when exposed to very high levels of negative ions. Researchers were unable to rule out a placebo effect, however. And again, the levels of negative ions emitted from salt lamps is believed to be far lower than those used in these studies.
Lower levels of negative ions have been proven to improve symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. The sun produces more negative ions in summer, so the lamps may help to mimic these conditions. While more comprehensive scientific studies are needed to prove whether they really are health-boosting miracles, their aesthetics and soft ambiance may make you feel happier and more relaxed. And they do look oh-so-pretty on your desk or bedside table.