The Dead Sea heals

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - SCIENCE/ HEALTH -

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.

Rafael Castillo, M.D.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.