I bet, we all have heard about the healing power of Dead Sea salt and black mud for psoriasis. In this post, we would discuss various secrets of this strangely named water body which makes it so special for skin ailments including psoriasis.
Dead Sea is a big water body bordered by Israel to the west and Jordan to the south. According to the Wikipedia, its surface and shores are about 1400 feet below the sea level- making it the lowest point on the earth’s surface. Due to this low level advantage, the sun rays reaching Dead Sea have less number of UV-B rays (short wavelength rays). These UV-B rays are also known as “burning rays” because of their intense nature. These rays can cause burning sensation upon prolonged exposure.
Hence, at Dead Sea, you can enjoy sunbath for a far longer time with little risk of sunburn.
Over the years, water evaporation (caused by hot dry air) has resulted in extremely high content of salts (and minerals) making it one of the saltiest lakes in the whole world. Such a high content of salt and mineral in Dead Sea has a therapeutic effect on skin.
No aquatic animals (fish, plants and others) can survive in such a densely salted water. That’s why it is called as Dead Sea.
In all, Dead Sea has a healing effect on Psoriasis for mainly two reasons:
- Super high concentration of salt and minerals
- The natural atmospheric filter advantage which facilitates longer duration of sunlight exposure without any fear of skin burning
Dead Sea Salt- Composition and benefits
Water evaporation has resulted in deposition of salts on the shores and bottom of this sea. This mineral-rich salt is highly beneficial for various skin ailments including psoriasis. Dead sea salt contains 21 minerals in good amounts- 12 of these minerals are not found in any other sea. Mineral content in dead sea salt is as high as 10 times than any other sea. These minerals are very similar to the minerals found in our body (skin) cells. Hence, when you take a soaking bath in Dead Sea, these minerals are absorbed through your skin to make up for the various minerals deficiency in your body. At the same time, due to reverse osmosis, toxins are thrown out from your skin through sweating.
**The minerals concentration can vary significantly with season, depth and temperature.
- Magnesium (in the form of Magnesium Chloride)
Magnesium concentration in dead sea water is about fifteen times higher than salts in any other sea. In a lot of studies, serum and skin scales of people having psoriasis have been found to be deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is vital for optimum cell metabolism. It acts as an anti-allergic agent. Chlorine along with Magnesium further accelerates the body metabolism by maintaining an optimum acid-alkaline pH balance.
- Calcium (in the form of Calcium Chloride)
It helps in unclogging of the skin pores to facilitate toxins elimination in the form of dead skin cells, dirt and bacteria. Calcium tightens your skin and improves blood circulation to give your skin a healthy glow.
- Sodium (in the form of Sodium Chloride)
Improves skin permeability, hydrates it and removes toxins.
- Potassium (in the form of Potassium Chloride)
Water retention in the body can cause problems such as thyroid, dry skin and stiff joints. Optimum amount of potassium would minimize the problem of water retention. Potassium also helps in optimum moisture management of the skin.
- Sulphur (in the form of sulfates)
Sulphur stimulates the liver to secrete more bile. Increased bile production would help in liver detox to relieve psoriasis symptoms. Sulphur aids in fat metabolism and regulate blood sugar. A lot of topical creams and ointments have sulphur as a key ingredient mainly because of its skin cleansing properties. Sulphur is a well known disinfectant.
Read more: Coffee enema for Liver detox and Psoriasis
- Zinc and Bromide
Zinc is a natural UV rays blocker, boost immunity and possess anti-inflammatory properties. Bromide is a natural antibiotic, anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory in nature.
Benefits of Dead sea salt for Psoriasis
- Skin detox- These salts are grainy in nature and contains all the vital skin minerals as explained above. Dead sea salt provides gentle exfoliation action to unclog skin pores to eliminate dead skin cells, bacteria and dirt from the skin.
- Increased blood circulation– Improved blood circulation makes your skin warmer to eliminate toxins from the skin pores. At the same time, absorbs vital minerals contained in the salt. Enhanced blood circulation infuses fresh oxygen throughout the skin cells to maintain optimum skin pH. It reduces skin inflammation also.
- Reduced stress– Improved blood circulation, detoxified skin and reduced inflammation- it means less stress. In ancient times, both Romans and Greeks used to take warm sea water bath to get relaxed.
- Moisture management– Minerals such as Magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium balances moisture in your skin and body.
- Improves skin permeability– Most of the minerals in dead sea salt are deep penetrating and makes your skin permeable so that any skin moisturizer applied after the bathing would go deep inside your skin to give long term moisturizing effect.
- Anti-aging– Two naturally occurring protein in your skin- collagen and elastin- provide shape and firmness to your skin. Minerals in dead sea salt stimulate collagen renewal and repair collagen and elastic breakdown to reduce wrinkles and sagging.
- Anti-microbial– High mineral content in dead sea salt develops an unfavorable environment for bacteria and fungi to survive. People dealing with Candida infection found dead sea salt soaps quite effective.
Numerous case studies have been conducted to evaluate the effect of Dead sea salt benefits for psoriasis. Success rate is quite high in these studies. Around 80 to 90% of the patients experienced significant reduction in their psoriasis symptoms.
- In 1989, an Israeli dermatologist, Dr Zvi Evan Paz evaluated the benefits of soaking in Dead sea salt bath for psoriasis. A total of 50 patients were given soaking baths- 3 baths a week for 6 months. After 6 months, 47 patients witnessed impressive visible improvement in their conditions.
- Dr J. Arndt from Germany performed a controlled study covering 50 patients, in the age range between 14 to 77 years. All the patients were given Dead sea salt soaking baths- either a full bath or a partial one, depending upon the severity of the problem. For full bath, 2 kgs (4.4 pounds) of salt was dissolved in a bath. The bath temperature was slightly warm (just 2 degree Celsius above the room temperature) and soaking time was 20 minutes, followed by a light rinse. For partial bath, the salt concentration was just 10%- around 0.2 kgs of salt was used. Rest of the conditions were same. As per the patient condition, about 3 to 4 baths were given per week for around 3 to 4 weeks. Improvements were visible after one week and within a period of 4 weeks, around 54% of the patients were clear of all the symptoms. Others were not completely clear, still significant improvement was there. No incidence of side effects was recorded.
- A case study published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, 2003 edition- 27 patients with plaque psoriasis visited Dead sea for psoriasis treatment. They took daily bath in the Dead sea along with controlled exposure to sunlight. About 48% of the patients experienced complete remission and it was a significant improvement in other 41% patients. The average remission period was 3.3 months for patients who enjoyed complete remission.
- In a case study conducted by Danish researchers, treatment records of 192 patients were evaluated. All these patients visited Dead Sea from Copenhagen during 1975 to 1993 and undergo one month treatment comprising of bathing in Dead Sea and sunlight exposure. Almost complete remission was observed in 73% patients with significant improvement in another 20%.
- In another case study, published in the International Journal of Dermatology, February 1995 edition- treatment records of 1448 consecutive patients, treated at a psoriasis clinic on the Dead sea’s shores were examined. Around 58% of the patients witnessed complete remission and other 30% had significant improvement. Unfortunately, I couldn’t gather any more information about this case study.
- A case study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment, Vol 16, 2005 suggested climatotherapy at the Dead sea (bathing in Dead sea and sunlight exposure) an effective treatment to manage psoriasis symptoms.
Here, we can see that either you visit Dead sea or just take a warm soaking bath (with Dead sea salt) at the comfort of your own bathroom- you would get benefited in both the cases. Obviously, the second option seems more viable and economical.
Dead Sea Black mud- Composition and Benefits
Black mud of the dead sea is obtained from the bottom of dead sea; the lowest point on the Earth. It is a rich mixture of dead sea salt and oils. Apart from various minerals present in dead sea salt, the black mud contains natural tar and silica.
The black mud mask is a very popular way of healing various ailments like acne, eczema, psoriasis and arthritis since ages. Its healing effects are quite similar to that of dead sea salt- exfoliates your skin, detoxifies and hydrates it, increases blood circulation, reduces inflammation and wrinkles.
Few research results claim up to 40% reduction in wrinkles by using dead sea salt and black mud (as quoted in Wikipedia).
How to use Dead sea salt and black mud
By far, we have understood that salt and black mud of Dead Sea can help manage psoriasis symptoms. If you have enough money and time to visit Dead Sea, then go for it. A four week schedule would be best- daily bathing in the Dead Sea (twice a day for 30 minutes each) plus sunlight exposure (three to six hours).
But, obviously, everyone is not lucky enough to visit Dead Sea. In that case, you can try various products made up from the salt and black mud at the comfort of your bathroom and enjoy their healing effects.
Various Dead Sea products available in the market are-
- Dead sea salt for soaking bath
- Black mud soap
- Black mud moisturizing shampoo
Let us discuss them one by one, in brief:
Dead Sea Salt for Soaking bath
To enjoy a soaking bath, dissolve 2 cups (1 pound) of dead sea salt in running water. Water should be warm and comfortable to touch. Too hot water can strip off the natural moisture from your skin to leave it utterly dry. Also, hot water can irritate your skin. Soak your body for 15-20 minutes in that water. After this soaking bath, go for a light shower (rinse) and then pat your skin dry with a soft towel. After drying, immediately use a moisturizer all over your body to lock the moisture within your skin. A fragrance free, natural moisturizer would be best. Cost effective options such as virgin coconut oil can also be used. Dr Pagano, in his book “Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative” has recommended using a mixture of olive oil with peanut oil in equal proportion as a skin moisturizer.
You can use additives in the soaking bath to enhance the healing effect:
- Baking soda (to relieve itching)- 2-4 teaspoons
- Ginger (to increase sweating)- A teaspoon of grated ginger would stimulate sweating for better skin detox
- Essential oils (for relaxation and refreshment) – just a few drops
Read more: Lavender essential oil for Psoriasis
Generally, it is recommended to use this soaking bath twice a week for a period of 4 weeks to get significant relief. For severe psoriasis, you can opt for daily bath also.
You can easily get a bag of Dead sea salt at Amazon:
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Here, it is worth mentioning that Epsom salt is a cheaper option for soaking bath than Dead sea salt. But, Epsom salt provides only Magnesium and sulfate. On the other hand, Dead Sea salt provides a whole range of minerals. Despite of the low mineral content, a lot of people do get impressive relief from inflammation and itching by using Epsom salt also.
Read more: Epsom Salt soaking bath for Psoriasis
If your skin is cracked, you better avoid any kind of soaking bath with salt- either Dead sea salt or Epsom salt.
Black Mud Soap
Replace your bathing bar with a good quality natural Dead sea black mud soap, free from artificial fragrances and skin irritating chemicals.
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Dead Sea Mud moisturizing Shampoo
Beneficial for controlling scalp psoriasis symptoms. Claim to reduce hair loss related to scalp psoriasis.
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Good to know
- Due to high mineral content and density- soaps, shampoo and scrubs made up of dead sea salt and black mud lasts longer than regular soap bars in the shower.
- Some dead sea salt soap and shampoo manufacturers claim its effectiveness for various hair problems like scalp dryness and hair loss.
I have tried to explain the wonderful benefits of dead sea salt and black mud for psoriasis to the best of my knowledge. But, before wrapping up, I would like to remind you that any type of topical treatment (shampoo, soap, oil, cream) can’t heal your psoriasis alone. Psoriasis is an auto-immune disorder resulting out of a sluggish body metabolism. Hence, the real long term would healing would be from inside-out. The holistic healing of psoriasis includes:
- Positive changes in diet and lifestyle
- Consumption of dietary supplements like Omega 3 fats, vitamin D, turmeric
- Stress management
- Use of natural/ herbal topical solutions for external treatment. All the Dead sea products come under this category and worth a try 🙂