Balneotherapy for Psoriasis
The Dead Sea. Isn’t it every psoriasis patient’s ultimate travel destination? Many have gone for therapeutic treatment and seen significant improvement (or even total clearing) of their psoriasis. Because of this, buying Dead Sea salts for your own bath is popular, but many don’t feel regular salt has the same effect. Why could this be? Recent research into a treatment called Balneotherapy may hold the key – maybe it’s not the salt, maybe it’s the minerals.
What is Balneotherapy?
Balneotherapy is the therapeutic practice of bathing/showering in mineral-rich water. It’s become a feature of many indoor spas, but natural mineral springs are the original inspirations. What makes mineral-rich water different from regular water? It contains high concentrations of elements like sulfur, selenium, and silica. In the case of the Dead Sea, there’s also a significant amount of salt!
In 2017, Hungarian researchers studied 80 psoriasis patients over the course of 3 weeks while they received a variety of spa therapies, including Balneotherapy. The Balneotherapy treatment involved daily baths of 30min for 5 days a week in sulphur-enriched water. The researchers used a PASI score matrix and even CRP levels to identify if treatments were successful. At the end of the study, the 80 psoriasis patients had seen significant improvement. The participants received a complex assortment of different therapies so it’s not possible to tease out if the improvements were entirely related to the Balneotherapy, but the results still suggest that it can be a complementary part of psoriasis treatment.1 Another 3-week study done in 2015 showed the same type of improvements, this time with selenium-rich water.2
How does it work?
The jury is still out on why Balneotherapy can be helpful for psoriatic skin (doesn’t it seem the jury is out on just about everything holistic? It’s a drag!). It has been suggested that the anti-proliferation properties of some popular minerals may account for the improvements, or even the anti-inflammatory properties. For example, magnesium can slow cell growth/turnover, as can selenium. Selenium is also an anti-oxidant.3 Other minerals can ease muscle cramps and fatigue, which may be helpful if you also deal with psoriatic arthritis or fibromyalgia.
Where can I find Balneotherapy?
A quick Google or Amazon search will reveal lots of options for at home/over the counter choices. Dead Sea salts are just one option! Your local spa may also have similar products that you can use at home (that will hopefully save you a few bucks). Pro tip: check out the mineral salts that have essential oils added (peppermint is especially good for psoriasis). Of course, if you’re looking for the real deal, you can also check out natural mineral springs that may be in your area. While you’ll have to travel to Jordan or Israel for the Dead Sea, there’s plenty of mineral water the world over. Not that I typically link to Wikipedia as a reference, but it does have a great list of hot springs.4 Check out the ones in your State and then hit the websites to see if they make any specific mention of mineral contents. Be sure to call ahead to note if there are any special precautions you have to take for your psoriasis.
Have you ever been to a mineral spring? Did it help? Let us know what you find!
Has psoriasis affected your ability to sleep well?