Ever had that dream where you’re floating effortlessly in natural spa waters? You breathe deeply and feel your best inside and out. Okay, I don’t have the dream often enough, either. But that very experience is what keeps tourists from all over the world flocking to the Dead Sea—seeking its warm, oxygen-rich climate and, most of all, the therapeutic benefits of Dead Sea salts and mud.
Scientific investigations back up age-old observations about its minerals’ properties—especially helpful for skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. The Dead Sea is a “terminal lake,” meaning water flows in but not out. This leads to a one-of-a-kind mineral content—including sodium, magnesium, potassium, bromide, bitumen, chlorine, iodine, calcium, and zinc. (It contains ten times more minerals than the Mediterranean, for example.)
Just The Facts
Recently scientists at the Dead Sea Research Center confirmed that the black, hypersaline mud mined from its shores has antibacterial effects. Test microorganisms (including Escherichia coli, Propionibacterium acnes, and Candida albicans) lost viability and ceased growth after they were added to this mud. Researchers speculate that “chemical and/or physical phenomena” in Dead Sea mud help fight these microbes.
At least two recent studies support bathing in Dead Sea salt solution for skin health. One treatment of 373 psoriasis patients that combined Dead Sea salt with narrow spectrum UVB light showed a 70 percent improvement in skin status. In another trial, persons with atopic dry skin (or eczema) submerged their forearms in water containing 5 percent Dead Sea salt for 15 minutes. The results? “Bathing in the salt solution was well tolerated, improved skin barrier function, enhanced stratum corneum [outer layer of the epidermis] hydration, and reduced skin roughness and inflammation” compared to tap water, according to study authors. They also assert that the favorable hydration and anti-inflammatory effects are likely due to the sea’s high magnesium content.
One surprising application comes from new research on chronic sinusitis. Nasal irrigation with Dead Sea salt proved more effective for relieving symptoms and improving quality of life than saline solution among patients with chronic sinus inflammation.
The Spa Experience
For those of us who cannot schedule a healing vacation to the lowest place on Earth, a growing selection of natural products features the Dead Sea’s unique ingredients. “From talking to our customers, we have learned that our soaps often help to deliver relief from conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, as well as acne,” says Amjad Muasher, company founder and third-generation soap-maker at One With Nature. This soap is produced using “clean manufacturing” techniques in Jordan, where Dead Sea salts, mud, and natural ingredients (such as lavender, lemon verbena, and olive oil) are locally sourced. “Although the Dead Sea is a famous tourist attraction, it is also very popular with the people of Jordan and Israel,” Muasher adds. “My family and I spend a good deal of time in the region and are proud of its rich tradition.”
Other formulators offer bath salts, masks, creams, and cosmetics. The list goes on — and so do the chances to bring home the Dead Sea’s natural health and rejuvenation.