The Dead Sea has a high concentration of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chloride. Its salinity is several times higher than the regular sea salt hence its therapeutic use since the earlier centuries.
The medical benefits of the Dead Sea minerals have been existent for a long time now but it was only in recent decades that these benefits spread to many different continents through the import of halotherapy or salt rooms and skin care products.
Salt rooms claim to be good for respiratory and skin conditions. So, being familiar with the use of plain saline solutions in hospitals but not with salt rooms, I had to do a little research on it. And my search results turned out pretty well.
Let’s start off with the respiratory treatments. I found this study in which patients with asthma stayed for 4 weeks at the Dead Sea. The results were improved lung function, reduced number and severity of attacks, and improved efficacy of β2-agonist treatments. The researchers who did the study attributed this improvement to the presence of magnesium in the Dead Sea salt; the absorption of the element through the skin and lungs provided anti-inflammatory and vasodilatatory properties to the organs. With this, I’m thinking that salt rooms could be used for cystic fibrosis patients since they are sterile and may help clear out some of the thick mucus in the lungs.
Now, let’s talk about the skin benefits. What I’ve found were studies involving Dead Sea salt solution soaks. This time, patients had atopic skin and their forearms were submerged in the solution for 15 min; the control used was tap water. The study then measured different parameters up to the 6th week such as transepidermal water loss (TEWL), skin hydration, skin roughness, and skin redness. Now, I’m not a fan of research studies where subjects are asked to rate improvement themselves or basically if human judgment was used to measure anything. So I’m really glad that this study was objective in measuring these parameters. They used Tewameter TM 210 for TEWL, Corneometer CM 825 PC for stratum corneum hydration, PRIMOS optical 3D in vivo skin measurement device for skin roughness, and finally Chromameter CR 300 for skin redness. Now that’s a mouthful! The results showed that the Dead Sea solution significantly improved skin barrier function, enhanced stratum corneum hydration, and reduced skin roughness and inflammation. The authors also attributed this improvement to the magnesium salts because they are said to bind water and enhance skin repair.
There are a lot of other studies that further support the use of Dead Sea salt in medicine. And I am happy that this will serve as an additional treatment option for patients who have already exhausted different remedies for their asthma, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, or even erythroderma. There are also several skin care products that have Dead Sea Salt as ingredient like the Magnum Solace Dead Sea Magnesium Oil Spray, AHAVA Mineral Hand Cream with Active Dead Sea Minerals, and others.
However, when choosing among these products, always be careful of false advertisement and make sure that the ingredients are from real sources. You can never be too careful! 🙂
Harari M., Barzillai R. and Shani J. (1998) Magnesium in the Management of Asthma: Critical Review of Acute and Chronic Treatments, and Deutsches Medizinisches Zentrum’s (DMZ’s) Clinical Experience at the Dead Sea. Journal of Asthma Volume 35, Issue 7, 1998.
Proksch E., Nissen H.P., Bremgartner M., and Urquhart C. (2005) Bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution improves skin barrier function, enhances skin hydration, and reduces inflammation in atopic dry skin. International Journal of Dermatology Volume 44, Issue 2, pages 151–157, February 2005.