The Dead Sea heals
JERICHO, WESTBANK (PALESTINIAN Territory)—We’ve heard and read a lot of the healing properties of the Dead Sea, something which dates back to ancient times. Its water and mud are supposed to heal and beautify. The ancient Romans and Jews built bathhouses on the banks of the Dead Sea utilizing its water and mud.
King Herod himself was said to have frequently visited the Dead Sea’s hot springs and found it not only curative of his physical ailments but soothing as well for his frayed nerves. The beautiful Queen Cleopatra was also one of the beneficiaries of the effects of the Dead Sea’s minerals on the human skin, and used the salts and mud from the Dead Sea to maintain her youth. King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba likewise were frequent bathers in the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea is a strangely hypersalty body of water around 76 km long, 17 km wide, 1,050 sq km and 365 meters deep, according to our tour guide. It is surrounded by Israel, the Westbank and Jordan. It’s a paradox of sorts. It’s supposed to be higher than sea level, yet it is the lowest point on earth, 400 meters (1,300 feet) below sea level.
It’s called the Dead Sea because no fish or anything living could live in it due to its excessive salt and mineral content. However, the positive combination of the minerals and salts accounts for its healing properties. It’s quite paradoxical that a sea (it’s actually a lake), wherein no aquatic creatures can thrive, can be a source of good health and beauty.
The salinity of the Dead Sea reaches a concentration of approximately 340 grams per liter, which is 10 times more concen- trated than the Mediterranean Sea or any other sea. Add to it the high mineral content and you can imagine the high buoyancy of the water. Even if one does not know how to swim, one can float on it effortlessly. You see many people floating on their backs like they’re lying on invisible mattresses. We saw one making a show of it by reading a newspaper as he floated.
Ailments that could be cured
The list of ailments regular bathing in the Dead Sea could cure is long. Among these diseases are all forms of allergies from eczema to bronchial asthma, arthritis of any type, muscle and nerve disorders, various forms of metabolic disorders, psychological and stress-related disturbances including chronic fatigue syndrome and insomnia.
I must admit that when our tour guide eagerly narrated the health benefits of the Dead Sea, I thought it was too good to be true. I was having my bouts of allergic rhinitis at that time, so I thought I made a good case to find out if it was really as good as it was reported to be. Before going to the sea, we joined a group of elderly Europeans in covering most parts of our bodies with mud from a pond by the shore. I felt like we were carabaos waddling in the mud. And as we emerged from the mud pond, we looked like horrible creatures from deep under, walking slowly on the slippery mud to the sea.
Like a giant spa
It was quite an experience. The Dead Sea is like a giant spa. The water is warm and it’s like you’ve mixed a gallon of olive oil in your bath tub. The effortless floating really gives one a feeling of complete relaxation and tranquility. It makes one feel like no cares or worries are too heavy for the water to carry. The oily sensation also gives one a soothing feeling. One’s skin and hair feel soft and frequent bathers say this lasts for several days after.
The only side-effect I could think of in bathing in the Dead Sea is that you can’t swim in it with your eyes open. It really hurts when the water gets into your eyes because of its high salt and mineral content. But even if it does, you just close your eyes for half a minute or so and the hurting sensation disappears.
And how aboutmy allergic rhinitis? It’s too good to be true but it’s quite true. After the Dead Sea bath, and a day after as I write this, I have not soaked a single tissue paper with my runny nose. It only goes to show that despite all the wonders we now benefit from chemically synthesized breakthrough medicines, we should not forget that nature has a huge store of therapies and healing substances which can humble even the best medical specialists in the world.