By Stephanie Stahl

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  Thousands of stressed-out Americans are finding a new type of relaxation. Flotation therapy is catching on. Customers float in warm tanks of salty water to cure both mind and body.

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There are more than 270 float centers around the country, and about nine new ones open each month.

Venise Grossmann is drowning away her stress in float therapy. “It can be as simple and relaxing as closing your eyes and giving yourself some time and place to be alone,” Venise said.

The high school English teacher is a regular at Float in Marlton. Private tanks that look like a big bathtub are filled with warm water and enough Epsom salt to keep the body completely buoyant.

Tom Bazis, the owner of Float, said it “relieves stress and pressure on joints. It allows muscles to fully relax.”

Bazis says floatation therapy can help with everything from arthritis and high blood pressure to insomnia and migraines.

An important part of float therapy is sensory deprivation. The tank is pitch black and soundproof, and there’s no gravity on your body as you’re floating.

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“When you remove all things bombarding your brain processor on a daily basis, it opens up a lot of brain power to heal, relax , focus on things,” Bazis said.

That level of deep relaxation, like what happens with meditation, can also reduce stress hormones in the brain.

“It positively affects things like stress, anxiety, and depression as well,” Bazis said.

He says the magnesium sulfate in the Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin, which can also have a variety of benefits.

But mostly, Bazis said, it’s about finding a brief escape from our crazy lives: “Utter stillness, utter peace, utter relaxation.”

The salt kills germs, and the water is filtered and cleaned between each customer. It costs $49 for an hour session.

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Stephanie Stahl