Salt of the Earth: Underground medical center harnesses the healing power of nature
By Suren Musayelyan
Doctor Andranik Voskanyan takes the time to talk with his patients in plain layman’s terms as they bombard him with questions about their treatment regime.
He regards their involvement in the medical process as an important element in their recovery.
Nature’s clinic makes people breath easily
Nature’s clinic makes people breath easily
But the republic’s chief lung specialist says that it is nature that does most of the healing, while the doctor’s job is simply “to help accelerate self-regulation”.
“A doctor only starts the swing that returns the human organism to the level that we call health,” says Voskanyan. “Health is a dynamic rather than a static thing. Nature determines the quality of human life. A doctor coordinates the physical health-improving factors of nature.”
Voskanyan has been head of the Republican Speleotherapeutic Center since it was established in 1987. This unique health center is in a man-made cave 235 meters underground
Since 1992, he has also been president of the “Bnabuzhutyun” (Nature Therapy) medical center that examines and supervises patients receiving speleotherapy.
Armenia is a country rich in natural medicinal factors. Along with unique mineral resources and mountain-climate health resorts, the depths of the Ararat valley contain powerful layers of salt with inimitable medicinal properties.
Since May 1987, patients suffering from bronchial asthma and other respiratory illnesses have been treated in the Republican Speleotherapeutic Center.
Here, in a space covering 4,000 square meters, there are therapy-diagnostic rooms, a gym, galleries for walks, and niches for resting and sleeping. The center has been carved out from layers of rock salt that form the Avan-Arinj deposit near Yerevan known as Aghihank.
Therapy is conducted in the form of daily sessions that last about six hours. A typical course of therapy takes 20 sessions.
The cave’s medicinal effectiveness has been demonstrated by the experiences of more than 10,000 patients with asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
“We isolate people for some time from factors that affect them on the surface, such as electromagnetic currents, cosmic particles, and solar energy. We achieve isolation from all the triggers of antigens and other inductors of asthma – allergens, dust, gases, etc.,” says Voskanyan.
Energy emitted by the rock salt crystals and the composition of the air deep underground give speleotherapy its healing power.
Voskanyan explains: “We put a man into the cradle of the origin of life.”
Speleotherapy acts on bronchial asthma, allergic diseases and inherited immune-hormonal dysfunction through immuno-correction and hormonal strengthening. The therapy is also used for rehabilitation of patients with bronchial-lung diseases, viral respiratory diseases such as influenza, and infantilism among children that are behind their peers in psycho-physical development (as in clinical practice speleotherapy has been observed to have a positive effect on children’s immune system).
Doctors say that they have had encouraging results with patients suffering from sarcoidosis, eczema and psoriasis, as well as with children with mild cerebral palsy. Speleotherapy is also said to benefit pregnant women and their unborn children.
Medical staff at “Bnabuzhutyun”, which include five doctors from Aghihank, decide which patients are suitable for speleotherapy.
A research conducted jointly with the All-Union Institute of Pulmonology still in the Soviet times showed that speliotherapy had a positive effect in particular on asthma patients. Thus, it was established on the example of 820 patients that the number of days they spent on sick lists during the year decreased eleven times on the average after they had taken a course of speleotherapy (from 66 to 6).
Now the center receives about 15 to 20 patients a month of all ages. But for technical and safety reasons speleotherapy is not allowed for children under 3 and people that have physical problems preventing them from going or staying 235 meters underground.
Therefore the center has also developed a speleotherapy simulator called a Halochamber, which is situated a few meters underground. Patients sit in a cozy chamber where the health benefits of speleotherapy are modeled using crystals agitated by a quantum beam of light.
The process takes place to audio and video effects as patients relax in easy chairs. Children can play in a sand box of rock salt, where the sand is enriched with medicinal microelements.
The course of therapy covers between 10 and 40 sessions lasting up to 90 minutes.
Speleotherapy and halochamber services are available to some patients with state funding, which means that the state covers the cost of treatment. A typical course costs up to $500.
Voskanyan says, to make it affordable to more people, the center has designed take-home products that will be available in pharmacies across Armenia from September.
They include: a solution of rock-salt enriched with microelements for baths (costing up to 1,000 drams, or $2.2 per bath), especially for children with skin problems; powders that form a wash for treating mouth cavities and infectious diseases of the nose and throat (a portion that would last a person about two weeks will cost about $2); a night-lamp – lusatu – that can be used in children’s bedrooms for chromotherapy (worth $50 or more depending on the design); and inhalers containing a special solution of rock-salt (costing about 5,000 drams).
Healing Power Of Nature
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