Scientific Evidence of the Therapeutic Effects of Dead Sea Treatments: A Systematic Review

Uriel Katz, Yehuda Shoenfeld, Varda Zakin, Yaniv Sherer, Shaul Sukenik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: The Dead Sea, the deepest and most saline lake on earth, has been known from biblical times for its healing properties. The aim of this systematic review was to present critically the level of evidence for the claims of therapeutic effects of Dead Sea treatments in several rheumatologic diseases and psoriasis as well as to review these treatments' safety. Methods: All articles cited in MEDLINE under the query, "Dead Sea," were reviewed. Results: We found bona fide evidence that Dead Sea treatments are especially effective in psoriasis due to both the special characteristics of solar ultraviolet radiation in the Dead Sea and the Dead Sea water balneotherapy. Dead Sea mud and Dead Sea balneotherapy have been found to be beneficial in rheumatologic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and knee osteoarthritis. In the safety analysis, we found no evidence for an increase in skin neoplasia, although skin actinic damage seems to be increased in patients treated in the Dead Sea. Dead Sea treatments do not lead to worsening of blood pressure. Substantial ingestion of Dead Sea water (generally in unusual near-drowning cases) is toxic and can result in cardiac rhythm disturbances because of electrolyte concentration abnormalities. Laboratory analysis of Dead Sea mud did not reveal mineral concentrations that could represent a health concern for their intended use. Conclusions: Dead Sea treatments are beneficial in several rheumatologic diseases and psoriasis and have a good safety profile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-200
Number of pages15
JournalSeminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism
Volume42
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

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