Health Benefits of the Dead Sea, Israel

By James

Sufferers of arthritis, rheumatism, respiratory problems, and coronary ailments rejoice!

The Dead Sea has fast become one of the world’s leading centers of healthy living. Many people come from far and wide just to spend a few days revitalizing bodies hit with all kinds of health issues.

Here’s a quick guide of the treatments available and to what you can experience at the Dead Sea, Israel, if your body is feeling a little the worse for wear. More to come on the health benefits of the Dead Sea…

Balneotherapy and Thalassotherapy used to treat arthritic and rheumatic conditions

Twenty-one different minerals, twelve of which are found in no other sea or ocean in the world, are found in the waters of the Dead Sea, making this an incredible environment for various rheumatic treatments.

Thalassotherapy and balneotherapy are treatments during which patients bathe in the Dead Sea region’s mineral spring waters. These therapies, in combination with the dry air and consistent high temperatures, provide temporary relief of arthritic pain.

Pelotherapy, a therapeutic mud application, contributes to pain relief as well. Physical and massage therapy is used in combination in appropriate cases.

Climatotherapy used to treat respiratory conditions without the need for artificial devices

Symptoms of asthma, cystic fibrosis and other lung diseases can be alleviated thanks largely to the higher oxygen content, higher barometric pressure, low humidity and very low content of pollens and other allergens in the atmosphere. Visits from between one and three weeks have been scientifically proven to improve the arterial oxygenation levels, exercise performance and sleep oxymetry of patients, without the use of artificial equipment.

Climatotherapy and Heliotherapy used to treat coronary function, hypertension and depression

Seasonal affective disorder generally affects individuals who live in northern climates where daylight gets shorter in the winter. Conventional hospital treatment is phototherapy. In the Dead Sea region,  the sun shines an average of 330 days annually, providing sufferers with exposure to natural light while allowing them to enjoy a relaxing vacation.

A study conducted by the Cardiac Institute of Benei Zion Hospital in Hafia concluded that it was safe and beneficial for patients suffering from impaired coronary function to visit the Dead Sea, Israel region, located 400 feet below sea level. According to the study, both heart performance and oxygen saturation levels improved in all patients.

A further study on two groups of patients who were candidates for open heart surgery was conducted. One group of patients spent three weeks before surgery in the Dead Sea region, while the second group spent the three weeks prior to surgery at sea level. After surgery it was found that the group who had spent the pre-surgery time below sea level had no change in heart-rate whereas the group who had spent the pre-surgery time at sea level showed certain signs of impaired heart function. The recovery of patients who had undergone bypass surgery was positively influenced by their stay in the Dead Sea as well.

The mud of the Dead Sea is recognized as a good stimulant of blood circulation. A large group of 72 hypertensive arthritic patients was observed during treatment in the Dead Sea region and these patients showed a slight lowering of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure rates. There were no adverse responses noted in response to the balneotherapy for their arthritis.

Why are Dead Sea salts beneficial?

Magnesium is important for both combating stress and fluid retention, slowing skin aging and calming the nervous system. Calcium is effective at preventing water retention, increasing circulation and strengthening bones and nails. Potassium energizes the body, helps to balance skin moisture and is a crucial mineral to replenish following intense exercise. Bromides act to ease muscle stiffness and relax muscles. Sodium is important for the lymphatic fluid balance (this in turn is important for immune system function). So we can see that bathing in high quality sea salt could replenish the minerals which are critical to our skin metabolism.

Studies have been conducted on the health benefits of bathing in Dead Sea salts. One such study was conducted by Dr. I. Machtey on 103 patients suffering from osteoarthritis and tendinitis. Patients were either treated with baths of 7.5%, 2% or 0.5% Dead Sea salt concentration. Improvement was found after as little as one week of treatment for those treated with 7.5% or 2% salt baths. By the study’s end, 80% of the patients reported less pain; 70% experienced improved mobility and 60% were able to decrease their use of analgesics.

Dr. J. Arndt studied the effect of Dead Sea salt baths on psoriasis. Fifty patients were treated for 3-4 weeks, taking 3-4 baths each week. In as little as one week, many patients treated with a 10% salt concentration in their baths experienced marked improvement. This improvement included relief from itching, sleep disturbances, and skin scaling. Treatment with Dead Sea salts is not associated with any side effects.

by Amy K. McNulty, Ph.D.

(1.) Machtey, Dr. I. 1982, Dead Sea Balneotherapy in Osteoarthritis, Proc. International Seminar on Treatment of Rheumatic Diseases.
(2.) Arndt, Dr. J. 1982, Salt from the Promised Land Helps Psoriasis Patients, Arztliche Praxis, 34(48).