A Visitor’s Guide to the Montana Radon Health Mines, Part 2

A Visitor’s Guide to the Montana Radon Health Mines, Part 2
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Second in a two-part series.

(Photos by Andrea Wyckoff)

Thank you for reading part two of my radon mine series. If you haven’t yet, please read part one, “My Experience With Radon Mine Therapy for Ankylosing Spondylitis.” It explains how I ended up sitting in decommissioned silver and uranium mines in Montana while seeking pain relief from ankylosing spondylitis

People have been using radon for its healing qualities for centuries, but there are also warnings about the risks of breathing in too much. According to the American Cancer Society, being exposed to radon gas for long periods of time can lead to lung cancer. However, when you are at your wits’ end like I was, you are sometimes willing to try anything.

There are currently four operating radon “health” mines in the U.S. — all in Montana — and of course I had to try all of them.

(Photos by Andrea Wyckoff)

I booked both of my two-week stays at the Free Enterprise Radon Health Mine in Boulder, Montana, which offers two options for mine time.

One option is to ride an elevator 85 feet into the earth and receive your treatment in the old mine where workers once extracted uranium, silver, and lead out of the ground. It’s only 55 degrees Fahrenheit in the mines, so be sure to pack extra layers of clothing and perhaps a blanket if you plan on going underground.

You can also kick back in the “mine room” above ground, which is full of recliner chairs. It has WiFi and is heated to a comfy room temperature, with air from the underground mine piped in.

(Photos by Andrea Wyckoff)

My second favorite mine is the Merry Widow Health Mine in Basin, Montana. Mine visits are $15 per day, and it’s just a 15-minute drive from the Free Enterprise Mine.

A testimonial on the website reads, “I was walking out of the mine, and I realized I’m not using my cane.” It’s inspiring to hear about how many people have visited the mines and left their crutches and canes behind.

Below is a photo of the Geiger counter at the Merry Widow Mine, which you can blow into to measure your personal level of radioactivity. 

(Photos by Andrea Wyckoff)

I visited both the Earth Angel Mine in Basin and the Sunshine Health Mine in Boulder. Earth Angel Mine is open 24 hours per day, as the sign says “We Never Close,” and it’s just $7 for a day pass. I felt most at home in the Free Enterprise and Merry Widow Mines, so that is where I spent my time.

Most of the mine dwellers I met at the “radon resorts” were old-timers in their 70s and 80s, who returned year after year because they found this form of radon therapy so beneficial.

It was so comforting to be in the mines with other people who had similar disabling conditions, including AS. As fellow columnist Lisa Marie Basile wrote in “The Importance of Meeting Other People with Ankylosing Spondylitis,” meeting people with the same condition is really helpful, because you have a deeper connection and understand what the other is going through.

radon mines
(Photos by Andrea Wyckoff)

A soak at the Boulder Hot Springs Inn and Retreat Center became a true highlight of this healing vacation. The price to soak in the therapeutic mineral waters is just $7 for a day pass, which includes access to the outdoor hot springs pool, indoor steam sauna, hot soaking pool, and cold plunge. And it’s only 5 miles from the Free Enterprise Radon Health Mine.

Tizer Botanic Gardens, pictured below, is located 13 miles from Boulder. This is one of the dreamiest places to have a picnic or read a book after exploring the trails and full 6 acres of stunning gardens — 90% of the facility is accessible to people with disabilities. Another great place to add to your self-care vacation itinerary. 

radon mines
(Photos by Andrea Wyckoff)

As you can see from my photos, I had a wonderful time exploring the radon mines in Montana. Although I didn’t experience miraculous healing, I did feel some positive effects. It was a deeply relaxing experience.

One thing I’ve learned in the KickAS.org online forums is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to healing. I also learned how magical a solo vacation dedicated to healing and feeling good truly is!

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Note: Ankylosing Spondylitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ankylosing Spondylitis News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ankylosing spondylitis.

Andrea lives in a little off-grid cabin on Mt. Shasta with her cat, dog, and a forest full of critters. She currently works on a cannabis farm with the nicest co-workers on the planet. Andrea has found medical marijuana to be a lifesaver for treating the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis and she feels so lucky to enjoy working in that industry, too. Over the years she has shared many of her favorite anti-inflammatory paleo, keto, and raw-food recipes on her blogs, BettyRawker.com and ForestandFauna.com. She looks forward to sharing her adventures in “Kicking AS” with all of you.
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Andrea lives in a little off-grid cabin on Mt. Shasta with her cat, dog, and a forest full of critters. She currently works on a cannabis farm with the nicest co-workers on the planet. Andrea has found medical marijuana to be a lifesaver for treating the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis and she feels so lucky to enjoy working in that industry, too. Over the years she has shared many of her favorite anti-inflammatory paleo, keto, and raw-food recipes on her blogs, BettyRawker.com and ForestandFauna.com. She looks forward to sharing her adventures in “Kicking AS” with all of you.
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7 comments

    • Andrea Wyckoff says:

      You and I are breathing natural radon gas in our air supply on earth right now, in fact all humans breathe in radon gas everyday just by being on earth.
      And yes, long term exposure to high doses of radon everyday, for years on end, like the amount of radon a person who works everyday in an underground uranium mine would be exposed to, have been linked to causing lung cancer in non-smokers.
      The therapy folks are making the pilgrimage to Montana to do is such a tiny dose of radon exposure, just a few hours per day, or about 60 hours per year of “mine time”, compared to what your typical miner breathed in, as they worked underground day in and day out, for 20 plus years, which is tens of thousands of hours spent working underground.
      And there are many homes and commercial buildings that have been built on bedrock where unsafe levels of radon leak into ones home, again causing a situation where someone is breathing in high levels of radon for many years, and chronic lung conditions can result.
      I look at it like this, sunshine is also form of natural radiation. Too much sun, like the amount of sun I would be exposed to if I worked as a lifeguard on a beach all day would likely cause skin cancer for me, as I sunburn easily and skin cancer runs in my family. But I still am able to enjoy warming my body up, under the beautiful sun each day, when done in smaller doses, and not have my skin burn or worry about the risk of cancer the sun can cause.

      • Phillip Gibson says:

        Have the levels of radionuclides in the spas been measured? If so, what type of testing was conducted? What were the levels?

        • Andrea Wyckoff says:

          Here’s an excerpt from the Free Enterprise Radon Mine: “Testing confirms radon levels averaging about 1700 pC/l of air – with normal fluctuations ranging from 700 to 2200 pC/l of air. Exposure to radon is perfectly safe at just twice the amount of natural background radiation one might receive on an annual basis.”
          can be found on their website, https://www.radonmine.com/facility/

  1. Bill says:

    Andrea,

    Yesterday was world cancer day. Do the owners of the “therapeutic” mines also require a release not to hold them liable for any subsequent adverse effects (e.g., lung cancer)?

    Please read the evidence about radon -See link below. If the EPA regulated radon in a similar fashion to other carcinogens it regulates, then yes it would need to be mitigated outside. However, mitigating the outside air in not feasible. Two thirds of radon related lung cancers occur from protracted radon exposure below the EPA’s action level of 4 pCi/L.

    Sunlight is the leading environmental cause of cancer (e.g., basal cell cancer, etc.) and radon is the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality in the U.S.

    Decades ago, AS patients were often treated with high doses of radiation to reduce immune system activity leading to decreased spinal inflammation. However, the radiation increased the rates of various forms of cancer (e.g., leukemia). We need to learn from history and not repeat the same mistakes.

    Radon decay products (e.g., polonium) are also found in cigarettes and marijuana. People who smoke a lot can get a greater radiation dose (from the radon decay products in the plant) than what nuclear workers are allowed to receive (and at a more consistent dose than a visiting a mine occasionally). If you really want to increase your radon decay product dose – smoke marijuana if you do not fear developing lung cancer.

    https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44149/9789241547673_eng.pdf?sequence=1

    https://coloradocannabistours.com/stayhigh/smoking-radioactive-weed/

    • Andrea Wyckoff says:

      I appreciate everyone’s opinions and feedback! When I took on this opportunity to write a bimonthly column for AS News I thought it would be fun to share all the alternative therapies I tried over the past 20 years to bring the most pain free days and peace to my life, while living with AS.
      While radon therapy didn’t really work for me, I have zero regrets about trying out the mines, and truly enjoyed my time there. And I do believe others with chronic inflammation and painful conditions do find great benefit from this inexpensive natural therapy of being underground in a mine for just 30 – 60 hours per year.
      Ok, stay tuned as I cover more unique and sometimes controversial therapies that I and fellow AS warriors have found helpful. 😉
      Bill, you were right to guess cannabis is the queue, but I am mostly sharing information on edibles which do not require inhalation.

  2. It is a well-known fact that radioactive radon gas exposure is a leading cause of lung cancer to many of us who have reaped the dire consequences of being in an environment with this killer. However, because the presence of this demon cannot be perceived by our human senses, many people have never explored the physical pain of lung cancer caused by this silent killer. This exposure is built up during one’s life. That is the reason schools, workplaces, as well as homes need to be tested and mitigated if the level is elevated. Why on earth would anyone expose themselves to this element on purpose! The reason is obviously–ignorance of the danger!
    I asked the oncologist what could have caused my husband’s lung cancer which took his life. The doctor responded, we know radon is a known cause of lung cancer. He knew it, but we like millions of others didn’t know it and we didn’t know it had invaded our home. It is the silent killer.

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