There are more Dead Sea benefits for your health and beauty routines than you probably ever considered before, and science is backing it all up.
When you think of the Dead Sea your mind probably floats to beachside umbrellas just as easily as your body might rest atop the water’s surface. Aside from nearly 365 sunny days year, the ability to feel endless summer with icy drinks and warm sea water, the many Dead Sea benefits stretch far beyond the average beachside vacation — and science is backing it all up.
“The main mineral elements in Dead Sea water are magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium,” explains Ze’evi Ma’or, PhD and AHAVA Chief Technology Officer. “These metals are found in the water as salt solutions. The relative bromine level among the other salts is also important since it is believed to calm the body and the soul. Is it also important that there are no iodine ions in the sea water. Many people in the world who suffer from endocrinological problems are happy to learn that they can use sea products without fear of iodine sensitivity. Many other elements are contained in Dead Sea salts and a few of them, despite their low concentrations, are considered contributors to the ‘Dead Sea mystic.’ Noteworthy among these are zinc, iron, sulfur and strontium.”
Here are a few of the most noteworthy Dead Sea benefits you can easily take advantage of by either visiting the sea itself, pouring a heaping helping of Dead Sea salts into your tub, or using the much-loved mud:
The magnesium found in the Dead Sea is excellent for fighting skin inflammation. “Oral magnesium supplements have many known health benefits, and many people believe that topical magnesium can also be absorbed through the skin to achieve similar benefits,” explains Dr. Jessica Krant, MD, MPH, Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. “Magnesium salts help to soften the skin, are anti-inflammatory, and help to regulate cellular metabolism.”
Dead Sea salts, soaks, and mud can potentially alleviate eczema symptoms. “Eczema is a skin condition different from psoriasis, but also mediated by underlying inflammation. The mineral content and magnesium salts found in the Dead Sea likely also reduce inflammation in the skin that leads to itching and rashes in eczema sufferers.” Pretty impressive, and the idea of a non-steroid (steroids can be expensive with lots of potential side effects) approach is exciting.
Some docs believe on of the big Dead Sea benefits is keeping acne at bay. “The antiseptic properties of sea water in any ocean help acne, with the Dead Sea acting even more strongly to help reduce the overpopulation of P. acnes, but as with psoriasis and eczema, a large factor in improving acne also lies in the Dead Sea’s effect against inflammation, another of the four acne-causing factors. A third factor, follicular plugging, is improved by the mild exfoliative properties of the water.” Pretty impressive stuff, which means even teens and those battling hormonal surges can reap Dead Sea benefits.
Dead Sea soaks may help those suffering from vitiligo. “Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin condition where the skin’s immune cells attack its own melanocytes and destroy melanin so that it cannot be produced at all in affected areas,” shares dermatologist S. Manjula Jegasothy, MD, CEO and Founder of Miami Skin Institute. “The result is the typical super white patches of skin all over the face and body seen in vitiligo patients.” Research shows promising results when coupled with traditional therapies.
The potential to help those suffering from psoriasis is particularly exciting. “Heavy metals such as magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium are also potent anti-inflammatory mediators for the skin’s immune system. We believe that these heavy metals actually serve to diminish quantities of immune cells in the skin of people that have autoimmune skin diseases such as psoriasis. Patients with psoriasis suffer from an excess of their own immune system cells in the skin causing redness, itching, open skin, thickened skin and infection. With these immune cells are in effect chased away by heavy metals in minerals found in dead sea these patients can enjoy a holistic way to reduce the inflammation in their skin.” Over the counter, non-steroid options are being introduced by major Dead Sea mineral brands like Clineral by Ahava, which is also paraben and synthetic fragrance free, and gentle enough to use on even newborn skin.
Magnesium found in the Dead Sea also helps increase collagen production. Collagen is one of the many factors in our everlasting quest for young, healthy-looking skin, and Dr. Jegasothy says that the magnesium found in the Dead Sea helps increase our body’s own natual collagen production. “Magnesium is an essential nutrient such as copper and calcium that influences vital activities of the skin cell, such as the elimination of free-radical molecules which are generated by UV and other environmental radiation that damage skin cell DNA. Magnesium is helpful to skin where normal blood levels exist on multiple levels. It maintains normal skin function, as well as protects it from outside assaults and builds collagen.”
Soaking in the Dead Sea itself may help protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. There’s no excuse not to wear proper sun protection, but some research indicates that Dead Sea minerals can actually protect against additional sun damage.
Dead Sea soaks have been shown to improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. According to one significant study, “Maximal therapeutic effect was obtained at the end of the treatment and lasted up to one month.” That’s pretty major.
You can count on better circulation. Improved circulation has been known to help a variety of ailments including hair growth (thanks to scalp circulation), healing, spider veins, heart conditions, and more.
There’s some research indicating that fungal problems, like Athlete’s foot and some yeast infections, may be helped in the Dead Sea. While there’s no conclusive medical research on specifically treating either of these conditions, it’s well-documented that most fungi simply cannot survive when exposed to Dead Sea minerals. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence of repeated Dead Sea salt and mud soaks clearing up pesky athlete’s foot issues, as well as many women reporting their favorite of the Dead Sea benefits is actually the ability to prevent recurring yeast infections. FYI don’t try a bath including Dead Sea salts or a soak directly in the sea itself if you’re already suffering from an existing yeast infection, as it may burn already sensitive skin.
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