Nestled between Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, the Dead Sea is a salt lake more than 15 million years old.
Among the planet’s saltiest bodies of water, the Dead Sea has a salinity of 34.2% – it is ten times as salty as the ocean. Its salinity creates a harsh environment for flora and fauna, earning the name Dead Sea since precious few microorganisms can survive within it.
Mineral Composition of Dead Sea Salt
A place of healing since antiquity, the Dead Sea is site to one of the world’s very first health resorts. Practicing what is now known as thalassotherapy, ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman visitors would bathe in the buoyant waters and rub marine mud all over their bodies to cleanse, soothe, and revitalize the skin.
The therapeutic effects of Dead Sea salt are derived from its supremely rich mineral composition. Though it contains more than 20 elements, these are the most abundant:
Magnesium – Involved in more than 300 essential reactions in your body including muscle movements, DNA repair, energy production, and cell signalling, magnesium is a powerful anti-inflammatory that also fights against depression, improves sleep, and strengthens bones. Dead Sea salt is comprised of between 31% and 35% magnesium chloride.
Potassium – An electrolyte with a positive charge that conducts electricity within the fluids in bodily cells, potassium is vital to hydration, heart rhythm, muscle contractions, and pH balance. It makes up 20% to 28% of Dead Sea salt.
Sodium – Though often vilified because our diets tend to contain excessive amounts of salt, sodium is an essential electrolyte needed for the absorption and transportation of nutrients, fluid balance, blood pressure, and the transmission of nerve signals. In Dead Sea salt, it makes up 3% to 8% of its mineral content.
Calcium – Playing a major role in healthy bones and teeth, calcium is also necessary to circulate the blood, release hormones, regulate body weight, and stabilize enzymes. Dead Sea salt is 0.1% to 0.5% calcium chloride.
Sulfates – Found in mineral springs and volcanic ash, sulfur helps synthesize proteins, supports cartilage and connective tissues, helps the body resist bacteria, and cleanses the body of toxins. It comprises 0.05% to 0.2% of Dead Sea salt.
How Dead Sea Salt Can Be Used for Health & Beauty
For centuries, people have flocked to the Dead Sea to treat a wide array of inflammatory diseases….
1. Dead Sea Salt is Deeply Hydrating
Bathing in a solution of 5% Dead Sea salt improves skin hydration, reduces redness and roughness, and enhances the skin barrier, according to a study published in 2005. Sufferers of atopic dry skin submerged one arm in seawater and the other arm in plain tap water for 15 just minutes. While the salt treated arm showed significant improvements in all areas, the tap water arm showed evidence of further transepidermal water loss.
The anti-inflammatory and skin hydrating effects of Dead Sea salt are due to its high magnesium content. Magnesium salts bind to water, which in turn boosts skin absorption and permeability.
2. Dead Sea Salt Cleanses and Disinfects
Thanks to sulfur’s natural antibacterial properties, Dead Sea salt is wonderful for cleaning the surface of the skin. Because Dead Sea salt contains only small amounts of sulfur salts, it offers a gentle way to reduce oily skin and clear away acne.
3. It is an Excellent Exfoliator
Another way Dead Sea salt helps cleanse the skin is its ability to slough off dead skin cells that can contribute to skin roughness, clogged pores, and blemishes. To make a scrub, combine ½ cup of finely ground Dead Sea salt with ¼ cup of coconut oil.
4. Dead Sea Salt Promotes Youthful Skin
In evaluating the effects of Dead Sea salt on aging skin, researchers found that it reduces skin roughness that contributes to fine lines and deep wrinkles. Compared with placebo, a commercially prepared anti-wrinkle gel, and a 1% Dead Sea salt solution, these ointments were applied twice daily for four weeks. While the placebo and anti-wrinkle gel reduced skin roughness by 10% and 27% respectively, the Dead Sea salt treatment was superior in smoothing skin, reducing deep wrinkling by an average of more than 40%.
5. It Heals Chronic Skin Conditions
The combination of minerals in Dead Sea salt has worked wonders for people who suffer from dry, sensitive, and itchy skin.
As a psoriasis treatment, bathing in Dead Sea salt once per day for 20 minutes over a period of three weeks reduced the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) scores of patients by a mean percentage of 34.8%. One month after treatment concluded, PASI scores continued to decrease an average of 43.6%.
In the case of atopic dermatitis, 49 eczema sufferers bathed in the Dead Sea; afterwards they would spend some time in the sun – a therapeutic practice called climatotherapy. Using the Scoring Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) index, patients’ symptoms of dryness, redness, swelling, and flaking had significantly improved. Climatotherapy in the Dead Sea region, with stays lasting more than four weeks, resulted in a clearance of eczema by more than 95%.
6. Dead Sea Salt Calms Rheumatoid Arthritis
Marked by painful swelling of the joints, rheumatoid arthritis may over time lead to bone erosion and deformity. Though there is no cure, Dead Sea salt therapy has proven to be an effective treatment for many of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
In the study, patients bathed in Dead Sea salt daily for 20 minutes for two weeks. Evaluated by rheumatologists and their own self-assessments, patients showed significant improvements in morning stiffness, 15 meter walk time, hand-grip strength, circumference of joints, the number of active joints, and the activities of daily living. The reduction of symptoms was at its greatest after the two week period and the beneficial effects of bathing in Dead Sea salt lasted one month after treatment ended.
7. It Soothes Sore Muscles
Soaking in Dead Sea salt can help relieve muscle cramps and soreness and offers a relaxing way to ease the pain and discomfort of fatigued and tense tissues.
Testing its effects on fibromyalgia – a chronic condition characterized by muscle pain, fatigue, disturbances in sleep, impaired memory, and mood swings – researchers found bathing in the Dead Sea over the course of 10 days improved the severity and frequency of symptoms. Relief from pain, fatigue, stiffness, anxiety, headaches, sleep problems, and joint swelling was immediate and persisted for three months after treatment.