By: Laura Emmons
Photos By: Josh Triggs
Beryl Wao and Brenda Walker have traveled to many countries together seeking holistic treatments and alternative medicines. Since this past June, they’ve brought their vast knowledge back home to share with our community. Residents of Berkeley County, both women saw an unfilled need for holistic therapies and created the Touch of Grace Salt Cave and Spa. Conveniently located on Foxcroft Avenue across from Martin’s Food Store and next to the Asian Garden Restaurant, Grace Spa is a unique retreat from everyday stress.
Touch of Grace Spa and Salt Cave offers services that are rarely found in our region. That’s why they have attracted customers from all over the East Coast. Satisfied guests have come from Tampa, FL, Brooklyn, NY, Macon, GA, all of Maryland, the Shenandoah and Cumberland Valleys as well as residents of the Eastern Panhandle.
They offer many types of massage therapy, including Swedish, Deep Tissue, Hot Salt Rocks, Pressure Points and Pre/Post-Natal Massages as well as Chair Massage. Their Reflexology treatment can be combined with their Salt Foot Domes for additional detoxification and relaxation. An Infrared Sauna includes Chromotherapy lights. Facials, acupuncture, aromatouch therapy, hand or scalp massages and many other services are available. Their signature therapies utilize the Detox Steamer and the Salt Cave. The Grace Detox Steamer combines steam with herbs to promote detoxification of the body, cleansing of the skin, and relaxation of the mind. The Detox steamer may also reduce inflammation, increase metabolism, relieve upper respiratory symptoms, and aid in weight loss. It is superior to body wraps in the treatment of cellulite and enhances the development of collagen. Increased circulation and blood fl ow, combined with the intensive cleansing of pores through perspiration leave skin smooth, supple, clean and hydrated.
The Salt Cave is used for a form of halotherapy, or salt therapy, called ‘dry salt inhalation treatment’. Thousands of pounds of natural salt mined from the Himalayan region of Pakistan have been imported to Martinsburg and used to create the Salt Cave. It mimics the micro-climate of natural salt cave formations in Europe. This treatment has been used in Europe for hundreds of years and arrived in North America in the 1990s. In 1843 Polish physicist, Felix Bocakowski, created the first study on the benefits of halotherapy when he noticed that workers in the salt mines had very healthy respiratory systems. However, documentation regarding the benefits of prolonged visits to the salt caves in Poland date back as far as the twelfth century.
The Touch of Grace Salt Cave was designed by North America’s foremost expert on Himalayan salt, Dr. Margaret Smiechowski. It combines dry salt inhalation therapy with relaxation techniques such as a zero-gravity chair, chromotherapy lighting and soft music. A Halogenerator pumps microscopic particles of this mineral-enriched salt into the air. Kept at a steady temperature of 75° Fahrenheit and a humidity range between 40 to 50 percent, the Salt Cave is comfortable all-year round.
Benefits of Halotherapy
Salt has been used for centuries to treat a number of ailments, including pulmonary conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, allergies, COPD, and cystic fibrosis. It has been used to treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. The negatively charged ions in the natural salt counteract the harmful effects of electromagnetic fields generated by cell phones and other personal electronic devices. The Himalayan salt is antibacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory.
My Visit to the Salt Cave
I had the absolute pleasure of enjoying a session in the Salt Cave. The random pattern of overhead lights evoked a sense of relaxing under twinkling stars. The rock salt walls are designed to look like the interior of a European cave. The soft flute music reminded me of the American Southwest, and I was taken back to a Navajo ceremony I attended one night outside of Flagstaff, Arizona surrounded by the Grand Canyon and the star-filled sky. September is hay fever season for me, and I entered the salt cave congested. Within minutes, my sinuses had cleared and I felt deeply relaxed. Leaving the chair and returning to the real world was difficult, but the hosts offer their guests water flavored with natural ingredients, such as lemon slices, fresh mint, or cucumber and healthy snacks to ease the transition.
In addition to the many services offered at Grace Spa, they carry a number of products so you can take a bit of Grace Spa home. Imported Salt Lamps made from Himalayan salt provide soft lighting and halotherapy. They can also be used as relaxing and beautiful night lights. The Himalayan Salt and Lemongrass soap is hand-crafted. A popular product is the 315 Relief Salve for the treatment of many types of pain, including migraine headaches. Bath salts, silk scarves and other gift items are imported from around the world. Exquisite silver and stone jewelry is imported directly from the designer in China. These necklaces, bracelets and other items are made from genuine pearls, amber, authentic Chinese Jade and other healing stones.
Beryl and Brenda offer private sessions in the Salt Cave for six to ten people. It is an innovative location for private events like bridal showers, couples massage, anniversary and birthday parties, corporate functions and fundraisers. Gift certificates are also available.
Yoga classes are taught by Joanna Brennan every Thursday from 6-7 PM in the Salt Cave. Tai Chi in the Salt Cave is taught by Tom Brandt every Monday from 6-7 PM. Children’s Tai Chi classes will be starting soon. Grace Spa also offers essential oils classes, High Tea and special events like Bring-Your-Girlfriend Day, Mommy & Me Day, and Daddy Date Night. Look for special events in October related to the Apple Harvest Festival. In December they plan to have a ‘Santa in the Cave Community Day’ with photographer, Josh Triggs of 3MI taking photos with Santa and giveaways for the children.
Through the Grace Pay-It-Forward program, Grace Spa has become a corporate sponsor of the Burke Street Elementary School.
Every month Grace Spa honors those who provide necessary services to the community by offering significant discounts. Past months have recognized members of the clergy and educators. September memorialized the tragedy of 9-11 by honoring first responders with discounts. October will honor people working in the medical profession (doctors, nurses, etc.).
I asked Beryl and Brenda to share which treatment offered at Grace Spa is their favorite. Beryl recommends the Detox Steamer. Brenda enjoys all of their services, but the dry salt inhalation treatment and the massages are her favorites. The most popular service among their guests is the session in the Salt Cave. I would also strongly recommend this treatment.
Before your first appointment in the Salt Cave, you should drink plenty of water, wear comfortable clothes and, if preferred, wear white socks. Shoes are not permitted in the Salt Cave. Complimentary surgical booties are provided to keep the layer of Himalayan salt clean. Cell phones are not allowed in the Salt Cave, since they disrupt the balance of negative ions in the atmosphere and distract from the relaxation of guests.
If you have a serious medical condition, you may want to consult with your physician before enjoying a treatment at Grace Spa. People with a history of heart disease, kidney disease, anemia, or adrenal exhaustion should not use the Detox Steamer. Those who are currently diagnosed with lupus or multiple sclerosis should also avoid this treatment. The Salt Cave encourages the body to release foreign substances so those recovering from chemotherapy or an organ transplant may want to avoid visiting the Salt Cave until they are cleared by a doctor. People who are in the advanced stages of a respiratory disease should not use the Salt Cave.
Contact Grace Spa
Touch of Grace Salt Cave and Spa is open from 10 AM to 7 PM Monday through Friday and from 10 AM to 6 PM on Saturday. They are closed on Sunday. Grace Spa is located at 970 Foxcroft Avenue, Suite 104 in Martinsburg, WV. They can be reached by phone at (304) 263-3070 or by e-mail at info@GraceSpaSaltCave.com.