History of speleotherapy

Speleotherapy is one of the most effective non-pharmacological methods of treatment of chronic respiratory diseases. Speleotherapy is well combined with medication, as a complement to the main treatment, allows you to reduce the medication load on the body. The basis of speleotherapy – healing natural properties of karst caves and salt mines.

It is believed that this method of therapy was used even 2500 years ago. However, the scientific basis of speleotherapy received in the 19th century.


During World War II, the people of the German town of Ennepetal were forced to hide from the bombing in the Klueterhöhle cave. Dr. K. Spannagel noticed that people suffering from bronchial asthma, staying in the cave significantly improved their well-being. They could breathe more easily, and coughing and choking episodes receded.

This observation laid the foundation for modern speleotherapy. Dr. K. Spannagel presented his hypotheses in a study that was published in 1949. After that, caving therapy has spread to many European countries, in particular in Poland, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary.

In the former Soviet Union, speleotherapy began to develop in the 60-70s. In the USSR it began to develop in the 60’s and 70’s of the 20th century:

  • In 1968 the underground hospital in Solotvino (Ukraine) began to work;
  • In 1977 the Berezniki speleotherapy hospital (Russia) began to accept patients.


Starobinskoye potassium salt deposit, which began to be exploited in 1958, has become a landmark for speleotherapy in Belarus.

The way of introducing the method was divided into several stages:

  • In the early 70s, on the initiative of N.E. Savchenko, Minister of Health of the BSSR, it was decided to develop speleotherapy on the basis of the salt caves in Soligorsk. The study of the influence of the underground environment on the human organism began.
  • In 1980 Professor N.A. Skepian proposed to treat patients with bronchopulmonary pathology in the underground conditions of the potassium mine. He sent his proposal to the Ministry of Health of BSSR.
  • In 1986. The Council of Ministers of the BSSR decided to build the underground speleological complex and speleological hospital for 120 places on the base of the first “Belaruskali” potassium mine.
  • On February 5, 1990 the salt caves in Salihorsk received the first 33 patients.
  • In 1997 the above-ground building of the medical facility was opened.
  • In 2012 the building number 2 and the second underground unit of speleotherapy began to receive patients.
  • In 2013 the Zelenyi Bor branch of the hospital for children from 6 to 17 years old started its work.

Today, the Republican Speleotherapy Hospital is a multifunctional medical complex with a capacity of 450 beds.

You can watch a 3D tour of the speleotherapy hospital or a video about our unique institution.

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