(ARA) - Night after night, Jayme Warner would anxiously lie in bed hearing coughing, gagging and gasping from the bedroom down the hall. It was her younger sister, Katie, struggling with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening lung disorder."It was terrifying to listen to," says Jayme. "No one in our family could sleep. It's really scary when someone you love can't breathe, when they just can't get enough oxygen in." Fortunately, Katie has found relief through an inexpensive source some may find surprising - salt. By inhaling concentrated, vaporized salt twice a day through a nebulizer, Katie successfully fights the debilitating symptoms of cystic fibrosis. Her recovery was so dramatic it inspired Jayme, 16, to write an essay about the family's experience with salt therapy. Her essay, "Salt: Saving Lives One Breath at a Time," won first place in the senior division of the prestigious DuPont Challenge science competition, which attracted nearly 10,000 participants. The essay, and Katie's story, is another example of how salt is an essential nutrient, vital for good health, says Lori Roman, president of the Salt Institute, the world's leading authority on salt (sodium chloride). "We hope Jayme's winning essay shines a brighter scientific spotlight not only on salt's role in treating cystic fibrosis, but on the many other ways salt is one of nature's great healing agents," said Roman. Katie, now 7, continues to use a nebulizer twice a day to inhale vaporized salt, called hypertonic saline, which is almost twice as salty as the water in the Atlantic Ocean. It's also sterile, so there are no germs in it. "Through a process of osmosis," Jayme wrote in her essay, "the salt water, or the salt in the air at a 7 percent concentration, basically goes into the cells and draws out the mucus from the cells. It's loose in the lungs and easier to cough up." This allows Katie to sleep and go to school, with little coughing or difficulty breathing. The dark circles under Katie's exhausted eyes are gone and a well-defined "six-pack" of stomach muscles she built up from coughing is almost gone, too. "She's still pretty strong, but it's not from coughing, just from playing like a kid," says Jayme, a sophomore at Intech Collegiate High School in North Logan, Utah, who won a $5,000 savings bond and a trip to Disney World for her winning essay. Jayme and Katie have become salt evangelists of sorts. They tell others about Katie's dramatic improvement with salt therapy and how their grandfather's allergies also improved after moving to a house near the salty air of the ocean. Not only is salt good for you, it tastes good, they say. "I am a die-hard salt fan," says Jayme. "So is Katie. In a choice between sweet and salty, it's salty all the way. We particularly like sea salts. We put it on vegetables because no matter what you do to some vegetables they cannot taste good unless you add a little bit of salt." Jayme knows her sister's body was telling her she needed more salt. Now that she has it, the house is quiet at night, with everyone sleeping peacefully. "To know she is safe and won't struggle breathing is a huge relief, almost as if the world is taken off your shoulders," says Jayme. "She can run around and play at recess because salt gets that mucus out of her lungs. She can be a kid."
********** Published: June 23, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 10