Therapeutic Properties of the Dead Sea
The medicinal potential of the Dead Sea region and the
therapeutic properties of its water and the hot springs have been known for
thousands of years. According to Josephus Flavius, a first-century historian, King
Herod used to find relief for his aching body in the water of the hot
springs in the area.
The Dead Sea is mentioned in connection with its healing
qualities in the Bible as well. Later these healing qualities are mentioned in
the writings of monks at different periods and acclaimed in countless local
tales. Remnants of a roman aqueduct on the slopes of Ein Navait testify that the
hot water of the spring was transported for use at the fortress nearby.
The spring, formed at the meeting point of two geological faults,
resulted from ancient rains that seeped into the deep strata,
dissolved the salts, and became heated to the temperatures prevalent at great
subterranean depths. The mineral water, which is drunk from this spring,
contains sulfur, chlorine and bromine
and reaches temperatures of 39 degrees
The natural curative factors which underlie the medicinal
potential of the region are the mineral waters of the Dead Sea and the springs,
the therapeutic mud, and the unique climate of the area.
For the most part, the many hot mineral-rich springs along
the western shore of the Dead Sea have been mapped and researched in
detail. The spring water is a mixture originating in a number of water
bodies at various subterranean strata with different hydro-geological
regimes. The main components are:
solutions of the water of the ancient lake that have penetrated into
the layers of rock around the present Dead Sea.
solutions of Dead Sea water
thousands of years old, trapped underground around the lake
rainwater that has seeped underground and has diluted the
concentrations of water already there
The high temperatures of the spring water along the length of
the fault indicate a depth of hundreds of meters at its source where the heat
almost reaches boiling point. The therapeutic, physical, and chemical properties
of the springs are associated with the heat of the water and the hydrostatic
pressure that influences the blood circulation and breathing. The high mineral
content gives rise to other absorption and discharge of ions through the skin,
in addition to the direct supply of various chemical compounds and elements,
some of which are radio-active.
Some of this hot mineral water arises freely while some is
pumped from various depths according to the temperature required. It serves as a
cure for diseases of the blood, kidneys and skin, as well as for rheumatic
The clinical facilities at the many Dead Sea Spas are of various kinds, some having
medical supervision. The main minerals at work here are the concentrations of
magnesia, known for its anti-allergic effect on the skin and bronchial tubes;
bromine, which has a positive influence on the nervous system; and iodine, for
the functioning of various glands. The minerals of the Dead Sea are also
important ingredients used in many cosmetics and skin care products.
Woman relaxing in the Dead Sea
The salt concentration in the Dead Sea prevents the body from
sinking and, apart from the pleasure of floating, this phenomenon facilitates
physiotherapeutic exercises in the water for various rheumatic conditions,
muscle spasms, or treatment after fractures.
Man Floating in the Dead Sea
An additional factor integrated into the treatments is the
therapeutic mud formed from the clay sediments rich in organic compounds
originating in the animal and plant life and from the asphalt and algae that
accumulate in the closed lake. This helps in the treatment of rheumatism
and paralysis. The medicinal mud also contains many hormones, among them
estrogen, which assists in the formation of the mucous tissues of the womb and
therefore is also effective in treating gynecological diseases. Bathing in the
sea at the bathing beaches or in closed pools is an integral part of the
treatment offered to visitors.
Although the medicinal indications of the water have not yet
been adequately researched, this therapeutic resource is a great attraction,
which gives the area advantages over other such places in Israel and the world.
In addition to the medical properties of the water, the climate and atmosphere
of the region have a therapeutic value of their own.
The high atmospheric pressure, the highest in fact on earth,
results in the highest oxygen content on earth and low ultra-violet radiation.
This permits prolonged sun bathing without danger of burning on almost every day
of the year.
The absence of polluting contaminants makes for pure air, which
eases bronchitis and bronchial conditions. On the other hand, the combination of
low humidity and high evaporation contributes to accelerating the body’s
metabolic processes. These climatic properties have a considerable effect on the
non-specific treatment of certain diseases based on stimulation of cells and
tissues while acting against unhealthy internal and external stimuli.
The treatment of psoriasis on
the shores of the Dead Sea is a typical example of a specific cure. It has been
proved that the vast majority of psoriasis sufferers are cured, or their
condition improves, after being in the sun and climate of the area and taking
hot mineral baths, as well as bathing in the sea.
A further advantage, offered by the Dead Sea treatments, lies in
the immeasurable improvement in the patient’s state of mind away from the
depressing atmosphere of the hospital. The medical facilities here are in an
obviously tourist area and, in addition, the cure is accompanied by
explanations of its progress.
It seems that this cure for psoriasis is not only at least as
effective as the traditional treatment, but it is also cheaper and more
pleasant. The positive results have led to medical insurance funds in other
countries paying for the trip and treatment of psoriasis sufferers, thereby
cutting the cost of treatment in a hospital and freeing beds. Moreover, up to
now patients usually have, for esthetic reasons, been too embarrassed to uncover
the affected parts of their body at public beaches. This is not the case here.
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