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Nicole Bartlett, founder of Louisville Salt Cave, says turning off outside stimulus is the goal of these sessions. Because it’s a community space, they ask clients not to talk or use phones unless they are listening to something privately.

“For me, the reason to do this is for coming back to self… so that we are better at discerning, so that we can know when it is time to say no.”

Written by Tiffany White | Photo by Kylene White and Brooke Morrison
Sponsored by: LSC, LLC | 9800 Shelbyville Rd #200, Louisville, KY 40223 | Phone: (502) 996-7000 | Website: LouisvilleSaltCave.com

Nicole Bartlett, founder of Louisville Salt Cave, invites people in for a healing experience of the mind, body, and spirit. The magic, as she describes it, happens in a room made out of 250-million-year-old Himalayan salt. 

Halotherapy, the health treatment she uses, involves breathing in salt-saturated air while lying down in an antigravity chair. A halo generator, used to grind the pharmaceutical-grade salt, releases it into the air. “It is a great opportunity to come in and let go of the outside world. We say go inside to create your outside, because we are big believers in giving ourselves space to allow for flow versus constantly doing and being possibly the disrupters of that flow,” she says. Each session lasts for 45 minutes with a maximum of five people in the cave at one time. Most clients come in for stress relief – but they get much more.

Detail image of Louisville Salt Co storefront, shelving and products.

Research indicates that halotherapy can help alleviate allergies, COPD, asthma, eczema, and psoriasis. “If you have chronic respiratory conditions, it really keeps the lung microbiome healthy which is especially important with covid. We recommend it on a preventative basis,” she says. For an added health benefit, Nicole uses the same light spectrum typical of red-light therapy, which is another treatment used for neurological pain, chronic inflammation, and cellular regeneration. This light spectrum, also referred to as a wavelength, radiates through the salt crystals in the cave.

But the advantages of halotherapy might extend beyond its physiological and psychological benefits. Studies indicate that group treatment sessions can be instrumental in promoting a calm environment. “The premise behind the community sessions for us is that research that has been done with Transcendental Meditation shows that when concentrated groups of experienced meditators come together, they have the ability to reduce the crime rate in the surrounding area of where the meditation takes place,” she says. Nicole views the meditative quality of her group sessions as a chance for her to do the same on a smaller scale. “Our goal is to have a more peaceful impact on the community through self-reflection.”

Detail image of Louisville Salt Co storefront, front desk.

Nicole was the first entrepreneur in Louisville to open a halotherapy business in 2015 and says her interest in alternative medicine began when she worked in animal nutrition. “I understood the benefits of preventative health from that perspective and I wanted to become a meditation teacher, so through a series of events, this opportunity kind of opened itself up…it was a great combination of the mindfulness piece that I had a passion for and the prevention that I understood to be beneficial to overall health and wellbeing,” she says.

Since starting her business, she has partnered with nonprofit organizations like Tip it Forward, Passionist Earth and Spirit Center, and the Louisville Urban League to provide her services to underserved communities. “I have come into a greater realization of the diverse needs in our community. A lot of my vision is how to make this health landscape accessible, [and] inclusive … as a company in the health industry, it is important to recognize how the healthcare system has not served everyone.”

Solving the problem of health inequity, she says, starts with asking leadership to take responsibility. “If you are responsible for a group of people in a leadership capacity, what are you doing to help them? What are we doing as leaders in this community to make whole health a priority for all? How do we change the way we’ve been doing things so that the human component becomes the priority… if that is going to happen, it has to start with us.”