Although considered a conservative state, Montana is home to a wide variety of practitioners of holistic and alternative medicines. There is a freedom here that allows people to pursue practices that are not embraced by mainstream culture, but that many on the fringes believe to be worthwhile. The irony of this is that oftentimes those things that the our society perceives to be dangerous, a minority of us have found to be beneficial. One of those practices is the use of radon as a healing agent. The presence of this colorless, odorless gas is considered a deal breaker in real estate transactions due to its connection with high cancer rates. However, in the mountains south of Helena, four mines are operated that allow you to breathe in this gas and reap a variety of health benefits.
In Europe, the use of radon as a tonic for ills has been widely pursued for centuries. Health insurance systems go so far as to cover the prescribed use of radon health mines either through breathing in the air or being immersed in a pool of water originating in a radon mine. In the United States (specifically Montana where the only known North American radon mines exist), it all started in 1952 when an engineer’s wife from California was visiting her husband at an underground gold/uranium mine known as the Free Enterprise. She claimed that her time spent underground at the mine cured her Bursitis.
Word of the seemingly cured woman spread, and others desperate for cures to their ills that modern medicine could not address started to visit these mines. With pain as their primary motivation, those who believed strongly in alternative treatments such as Amish and Mennonites, and those who had no other alternatives, began to demand access to the mines. Today, the recommended treatment by the radon health community is considered to be 32 separate one-hour treatments over ten days. Results can last for months up to years and visitors to the radon health mines have been known to find relief from arthritis, emphysema, diabetes, high blood pressure, allergies, eczema and psoriasis. The radon is thought to stimulate growth of cells, repair DNA, and improve antioxidant action and immune response.
Today, there are currently four radon health mines in existence. The Sunshine Mine in Boulder is open 24 hours and has a community resort atmosphere. The mine exposure area is decorated to occupy the visitors. The Merry Widow Mine in Boulder is open from May to November and contains a stream for those wishing to immerse themselves in radon-exposed water. They offer a season pass for $150, although they encourage you to limit your exposure to the recommended dosage. The Free Enterprise Mine in Boulder is the oldest of the Montana radon health mines and contains an elevator to the mine area. They offer an eight room motel and their rate for one full 10 day treatment is $175. The Earth Angel mine in Basin, Montana has the strongest concentrations of radon and also has a stream running through it.
The mines are in close proximity to one another and several mineral hot springs are in the area. For out of state travelers, the easiest access to the mines is from Helena to the north or Butte to the south. Be sure to do your research before you visit and determine if this is proper course of treatment for your symptoms.