The Health Value of Seawater

The sea has long been a favorite destination for individuals trying to deal with unique ailments and for convalescent patients. We have a look at the signs of its therapeutic benefits.

In the 19th century England, seawater baths gained fame as an unconventional convalescence cure for an assortment of ailments, ranging from depression to respiratory ailments. Patients were told to spend time by the sea or to enter tubs full of seawater to help them get back into health.

The foundation of utilizing seawater in medicine goes back much longer, however. For this very day, the amount of scientific literature on the subject remains quantitatively significant, but the quality of the proof about sea water’s curative benefits varies broadly. The majority of the research has focused on its impact on skin ailments and mental health.

Seawater and skin ailments
For many decades, anecdotes of people with psoriasis finding relief from spending time in salt baths or more commonly, in mineral-rich water, have been reported. The Dead Sea, in particular, is famous for its high concentrations of magnesium and has been a favorite destination for those who wish to try out an alternative treatment course to help handle their skin ailment.

This has to some extent been encouraged by research. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed that patients who have chronic, stable, plaque-type psoriasis benefited from spending some time in the Dead Sea, taking sea baths, and getting sun exposure, which resulted in remission periods lasting more than three months on average. These results were then backed up by following and more recent studies, though none clarified which components of seawater, if any, had this impact.

“Any progress seen after swimming in the sea could be explained by exposure to UVB rays from the sun as this may enhance skin conditions, such as psoriasis,” dermatologist Dr. Sweta Rai, of the British Association of Dermatologists, points outside.

The evidence regarding the impact of seawater in skin conditions such as eczema is even less clear. A large inspection zoomed in on different trials of seawater therapy and discovered that eczema sufferers’ answers to seawater as well as salt baths, generally, were highly variable.

There’s some evidence to suggest that water in the Dead Sea could help to improve eczema flares, but most evidence is anecdotal, Rai explains.

It’s also likely that it is not merely seawater per se that’s having an impact. It might be that being in a new environment, with a different climate, by the beach, is what helps some patients.

Improving your mental health
Mental health is another important area where scientists are busy examining the effects of swimming at the sea. This kind of study has grown in popularity in recent years, in particular, as a result of the launch of BlueHealth, a pan-European research initiative exploring the connections between environment, climate, and health. Specifically, scientists in the program consider how the sea along with other water-based environments can impact well-being.

There’s ample evidence to indicate that physical exercise is quite beneficial for mental health, specifically, to control tension and anxiety, partially because it encourages the release of endorphins (the feel-good hormones).

This, according to the study, seems to be much more the case for people who exercise in natural, outdoor environments, including the ocean. Exercise also reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which has been associated with a range of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety, Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind, the mental health charity, clarified.

However, swimming at the sea might also help mental health via other mechanisms. After we are swimming, our breathing patterns change and this might result in a more relaxed condition.

Suggestions to enjoy the sea benefits

Protect yourself
Do not forget that sea usually means sunlight, and both sun and sea bathing have been connected to improvements for the skin. But get good sunscreen too.

Do not stop taking your meds
Even if you decide swimming in the sea will help you, don’t discontinue the other remedies you are taking. If you have concerns and need to modify anything in your treatment plan, speak with your physicians, to receive their advice.

Find an activity you enjoy

Pick the physical activity that works for you.

“While swimming in the sea brings benefits for mental well-being for many people, the most essential issue is to find a type of physical activity you enjoy and can do regularly. An outdoor swimming team or other team action might be best for you if you find being sociable gives you a boost, while others who gain from yourself, an activity like conducting might work better,” Buckley says.