Thousands of people flock to the Dead Sea, found along Israel’s border with Jordan, each year because it is renowned for its health-giving properties.
Containing up to eight times more minerals than most sea water, the Dead Sea is the saltiest in the world. It’s believed that this, combined with the unique atmosphere in the area, is the secret of its success.
Even before Roman times, the Dead Sea had attracted spa-lovers from far and wide.
Today, scientific evidence proves that the Dead Sea can help treat a host of common illnesses. Typical conditions range from joint pain and arthritis to psoriasis and heart problems.
This is because the Dead Sea contains 33 per cent salt and a wealth of magnesium, calcium, potassium and other minerals. It is these minerals combined with the salt, sun and relaxation that are thought to have such a remarkable effect on psoriasis.
Researchers have found that those patients with psoriasis who bathed for an hour a day in the Dead Sea improved by 88 per cent. The water is also said to be effective in treating allergies.
It is claimed, too, that the Dead Sea helps relieve arthritis. This is because warmth and buoyancy reduce the release of prostaglandins – hormone-like substances present in a variety of tissues and body fluids that induce inflammation and therefore pain.
Interestingly, anti-inflammatory drugs found in the chemist are based on the ability to reduce prostaglandins.
Dr Rodney O’Donnell, a Berkshire GP currently researching the health benefits of the Dead Sea, believes that hydrotherapy could be the alternative painkiller of the future. Over the next five years he will be looking closely at the health benefits of the Dead Sea.
‘I have big hopes for floation treatment,’ he says. ‘I believe that this technique will reduce the need to take medicine, keep muscles fit after injury and provide rehabilitation for those recovering from knee operations and hip replacements.’
Floating is also said to help boost energy because instead of standing upright, we can lie horizontal and become completely weightless.
Scientific evidence shows that the Dead Sea can benefit heart patients too. A study by the Bnei Zion Hospital, Halfa, found heart disease patients improved after spending time in the region, benefiting from the low altitude and high oxygen atmosphere.
It’s also claimed that the Dead Sea can cleanse the body of toxins. According to Dr O’Donnell, flotation is known to induce diuresis – increased secretion of urine by the kidneys.
‘Floating means high levels of blood move to the abdomen area. This puts gentle pressure on the kidneys which stimulates the urge to urinate. Urinating helps get rid of toxins in our body,’ he says.