It’s interesting that a place known as the “Dead Sea” could, in fact, be so life-enhancing to us humans. Almost completely devoid of life due to its extremely high content of salt and minerals, there are only some types of bacteria and algae that have been able to adapt to this harsh environment. But it is the natural elements that are renowned the world over for their therapeutic benefits and curative powers – most notable dead sea salt and dead sea mud.
Located in the Jordan Valley Rift, just south of the city of Jericho in the Middle East, the Dead Sea is located nearly 1,400 feet below sea level and its shores are the lowest point on dry earth. As one of the saltiest bodies of water on the planet it boasts a whopping 33.7% salinity which is nearly eight times saltier than most of the world’s oceans.
There isn’t much rainfall over the Dead Sea, only three inches on average from north to south. This lack of rainfall contributes to the dense salinity of the sea, as there is little chance for dilution or circulation given that the Jordan River is the only tributary.
Comprised of many minerals not so abundantly found in ocean salt such as potassium, bromine, sulphur, iodine, calcium and magnesium, the Dead Sea and dead sea salt is widely known to have healing attributes. For centuries, ailments such as arthritis, psoriasis, eczema, respiratory problems, allergies and rheumatism have been relieved by the barometric pressure of the area, the unique sunbathing opportunities and by soaking in the waters of the Dead Sea. Even historical icons such as King Herod, Cleopatra and the Queen of Sheba used the mineral-infused mud collected from the Dead Sea in order to broaden their capillary veins, which increased blood flow for both medicinal and aesthetic purposes.
There has been great concern about the sustainability of the Dead Sea in recent years however, as it appears to be shrinking. Due to the increasing demand for fresh water, the sea’s only tributary, the Jordan River, has been diverted in part to provide for the neighboring cities. This, combined with over industrialization has left the Dead Sea hampered for a replenishing source, and as a result, water levels have fallen at a rate of roughly one-and-a-half feet per year. At such a staggering rate, environmentalist worldwide caution that without significant global intervention to reroute replenishing waters and reduce commercialization, the Dead Sea may completely disappear by the year 2050. Measures have been proposed to head off such a tragedy, but building pipelines and similar endeavors will be impaired indefinitely unless a global community comes together in support of them. For the Dead Sea and its highly favored dead sea salt to survive action needs to be taken.
By Jayne Higham