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German spa town offers old-style cures

BAD KISSINGEN, Germany--Slowly the light dims and via a nozzle, the space is filling up with countless, barely visible grains of salt. The walls are alive with the flashing and gleaming of the tiny crystals during this unconventional health treatment.

Deep breathing can be heard from fellow patients, and a slight cough somewhere. Lounge music is playing softly, and, implausibly for an artificial cave, there's even the murmuring sound of a babbling brook.

This scene is repeated several times a day in the middle of Bad Kissingen, a German spa town that offers 19th-century-style treatments for chronic health complaints. The salt cave is located next to the old Town Hall.

Peter Schmidt and his wife moved to Bad Kissingen to treat people suffering from such maladies as high blood pressure, asthma and narrowing of the arteries. They say that inhaling brine of iodine bromine in the quiet relaxed atmosphere of the salt cave helps.

“We searched a long time for the right spot. We discovered Bad Kissingen more or less by coincidence,” Peter Schmidt says.

Spa treatments seem old fashioned in Europe, but they are alive and well here.

Like the Schmidts, many private health treatment businesses believe investment in Bad Kissingen will pay off.

The municipality and the state of Bavaria are convinced that the sick will still pay to try out salt when modern drugs no longer help them, and stay at luxury hotels and eat fine food while doing so.

Public money has been poured into a thermal bath complex, KissSalis, which is one of the most modern facilities of its kind anywhere in Germany.

A clinic for psychosomatic therapy has gained renown far beyond Bavaria's borders, while the Kissingen summer festival is one of the region's major music highlights.

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