The Dead Sea comes alive at important medical conference

How one doctor is harnessing natural resources from the Dead Sea to give patients unconventional treatments.

Dead Sea before dawnDead Sea before dawnThe surface of the Dead Sea reflects the soft blues of a pre-dawn sky. (Photo: vblinov / Shutterstock)

The Dead Sea is a special place where natural elements come together in an unparalleled way to create an environment effective in healing a range of health conditions. While its high salt content prevents the existence of any life forms, it's become an international destination for medical research and health treatments thanks to the mineral content of its waters, high atmospheric pressure and low allergen count and pollution.

For these reasons, this haven for healing will play host to the ninth annual medical conference organized by the Norwegian Dead Sea Foundation, which will run Nov. 23-25 with physicians from around the world attending the event in Israel.

The foundation was founded by Dr. Marco Harari, the head of the Dead Sea's DMZ Medical Center, and Dr. Elisabeth Dramsdahl. Their work specializes in climatotherapy – the medical use of a region's unique climatic factors – for treatments, medical spa and rehabilitation of chronic diseases of the skin, the joints and the lungs.

In 1983, Harari moved to Arad, a small village in the south of Israel near the Dead Sea. Since then, he's become a leading expert whose studies about the effectiveness of climatotherapy have appeared in prestigious medical journals and he's conducting ongoing studies in conjunction with universities around the world.

We asked Harari to break down how natural resources work together to make the Dead Sea region so therapeutic.

The sun

Bright and colorful sunrise over Dead Sea A colorful sunrise emerges over the Dead Sea in Israel. (Photo: vvvita/Shutterstock)

The Dead Sea's location and low elevation cause a filtering effect of the sun’s UV rays. "The sun's rays are weakened due to the longer path they have to travel to reach the Dead Sea shores," Harari told From The Grapevine.

He says that by harnessing the sun, his patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome have found relief of their condition after a three-week rehabilitation program. "Taking advantage of the exceptional sun radiation properties was found to help many immune system disorders, including skin diseases, musculoskeletal diseases and respiratory diseases."

The climate

Couple in Dead SeaA spa experience in the outdoors – a couple basks in the sun, covered in mineral-rich Dead Sea mud. (Photo: Flik47/Shutterstock)

The temperature at the Dead Sea remains warm without much of the discomfort of humidity. "The elevated barometric pressure, high temperature and low humidity have been shown to have a favorable effect on patients with various rheumatic diseases," said Harari. "The air – which is unpolluted due to the scarcity of industry and vehicular traffic in the area, and non-allergenic due to the sparse vegetation – is of benefit to allergic individuals, especially asthmatic patients."

The water

Happy woman floating in Dead SeaA relaxed woman floats in the Dead Sea in Israel. (Photo: magicinfoto/Shutterstock)

Harari says the waters are critical for patients with skin conditions or joint diseases. "The water, as compared to seawater, contains an unusual composition and high concentrations of cations – such as magnesium, sodium, calcium – and anions such as phosphorus, bromide and chloride," Harari said. "Certain minerals in the water have been shown to penetrate the skin, which may contribute to its healing effect." Some of the treatments at Harari's spa include black mud applications, sulfur pool baths and physiotherapy.

Thanks to such climactic factors, thousands of tourists seeking natural relief to certain medical conditions visit the Dead Sea each year.

Lindsay E. Brown is the managing editor of Eco-Chick, the web’s first ethical fashion, beauty and travel site for women. She has written for Whole Living Magazine, Edible, and Cottages & Gardens. Lindsay has been featured as a fashion and beauty expert on the Veria Living Network. Lindsay holds a BS in Global Business Studies and Marketing from Manhattan College, and received the 2012 Honors Award at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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