• IMA sites
  • IMAJ services
  • IMA journals
  • Follow us
  • Alternate Text Alternate Text
עמוד בית
Sun, 26.05.24

Search results


March 2024
Marco Harari MD

Since 1980 dermatologists have been interested in the exceptional healing reported by patients who underwent treatments at the Dead Sea. Tens of thousands of patients have visited this area and more than 10,000 cases have been the subject of clinical and laboratory studies since this natural therapeutic option was discovered for psoriasis management. Through evaluation of the published articles on climatotherapy, we tried to reach a global assessment of the usefulness of this approach and to discover whether this treatment still can be recommended in the era of biologic treatments. I conducted a review of the available literature on clinical trials through PubMed, Medline, and Google Scholar using the terms psoriasis and Dead Sea. I found 26 studies published between 1982 and 2021. Assessment of patients showed major improvement through several selected parameters. Length of the stay and medical supervision positively influenced the major outcomes observed. Duration of improvement and possible long-term side effects of this natural treatment still need to be more precisely determined. Exposure to the unique climatic factors of the region, essentially the sun and the sea, induces fast and significant results with high clearance rates of psoriasis plaques. Dead Sea climatotherapy still has its place for the control of psoriasis symptoms.

April 2019
Elisabeth Dramsdahl MD, Dag Gundersen Storla MD and Marco Harari MD

Background: Multidisciplinary biopsychosocial rehabilitation for patients presenting with rheumatic diseases has been shown to produce better results in a warm climate. Dead Sea Climatotherapy (DSC) has been successfully used for decades to treat many patients with rheumatic diseases.

Objectives: To evaluate the short-term improvement of Norwegian patients who presented with chronic pain following a multidisciplinary biopsychosocial approach to treatment combined with DSC. Both objective and subjective clinical parameters were evaluated.

Methods: This retrospective study included a statistical analysis of 938 patients presenting with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis (n=105), osteoarthritis (n=342), fibromyalgia (n=374), and other orthopedic conditions (n=117). Clinical assessments were conducted before and after a 3 week treatment program at the Dead Sea.

Results: Six parameters improved significantly in the rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis group as well as in the osteoarthritis group. Five parameters in the fibromyalgia group improved, while two improved in the orthopedic conditions group. Overall, major significant changes occurred in the pain self-assessment, joint motility, and daily activities scores.

Conclusions: A 3-week multidisciplinary biopsychosocial program combined with DSC induced positive changes in the clinical parameters of Norwegian patients presenting with chronic musculoskeletal pain.

September 2014
Mahmoud Abu-Shakra MD, Amit Mayer MD, Michael Friger PhD and Marco Harari MD

Background: Low back pain (LBP) is chronic disease without a curative therapy. Alternative and complementary therapies are widely used in the management of this condition.  

Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of home application of Dead Sea mud compresses to the back of patients with chronic low back pain (LBP).

Methods: Forty-six consecutive Patients suffering from chronic LBP were recruited. All patients were followed at the Soroka University Rheumatic Diseases Unit.  The patients were randomized into two groups: group 1 was treated with mineral-rich mud compresses, and group 2 with mineral-depleted compresses. Mud compresses were applied five times a week for 3 consecutive weeks. The primary outcome was the patient’s assessment of the overall back pain severity. The score of the Ronald & Morris questionnaire served as a secondary outcome.

Results: Forty-four patients completed the therapy and the follow-up assessments: 32 were treated with real mudpacks and 12 used the mineral-depleted packs. A significant decrease in intensity of pain, as described by the patients, was observed only in the treatment group. In this group, clinical improvement was clearly seen at completion of therapy and was sustained a month later. Significant improvement in the scores of the Roland & Morris questionnaire was observed in both groups.

Conclusions: The data suggest that pain severity was reduced in patients treated with mineral-rich mud compresses compared with those treated with mineral-depleted compresses. Whether this modest effect is the result of a “true” mud effect or other causes cannot be determined in this study. 

February 2013
E. Kopel, A. Levi, M. Harari, T. Ruzicka and A. Ingber
 Background: It is well known that quality of life is an integral part in the outcome evaluation process of psoriasis treatment. Very few studies, however, examined the effect of climatotherapy at the Dead Sea on quality of life of such chronically ill patients.

Objectives: To determine the effect of the Dead Sea climatotherapy on the quality of life of patients with psoriasis vulgaris and psoriatic arthritis.

Methods: A total of 119 patients participated in an observational prospective study carried out at the Deutsches Medizinisches Zentrum clinic, a medical skin care center specializing in climatotherapy. The patients completed questionnaires (Skindex-29) to quantify their quality of life at different time points: the day of arrival, the day of departure, and 3 and 6 months after the end of treatment.

Results: Marked improvement in the quality of life scores was measured between the time of arrival to time of departure and to 3 months after the end of treatment.

Conclusions: Dead Sea climatotherapy has a significant positive influence on the quality of life of patients with psoriasis vulgaris and psoriatic arthritis.

July 2011
I. Gabizon, A. Shiyovich, V. Novack, V. Khalameizer, H. Yosefy, S.W. Moses and A. Katz

Background: As the lowest natural site on earth (-415 meters), the Dead Sea is unique for its high pressure and oxygen tension in addition to the unparalleled combination of natural resources. Furthermore, its balneotherapeutic resorts have been reported to be beneficial for patients with various chronic diseases.

Objectives: To evaluate the safety, quality of life (QoL), exercise capacity, heart failure, and arrhythmia parameters in patients with systolic congestive heart failure (SCHF) and implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) following descent and stay at the Dead Sea.

Methods: The study group comprised patients with SCHF, New York Heart Association functional class II-III after ICD implantation. The following parameters were tested at sea level one week prior to the descent, during a 4 day stay at the Dead Sea, and one week after return: blood pressure, O2 saturation, ejection fraction (echocardiography), weight, B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), arrhythmias, heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), and QoL assessed by the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure questionnaire.

Results: We evaluated 19 patients, age 65.3 ± 9.6 years, of whom 16 (84%) were males and 18 (95%) had ICD-cardiac resynchronization therapy. The trip to and from and the stay at the Dead Sea were uneventful and well tolerated. The QoL score improved by 11 points, and the 6 minute walk increased by 63 meters (P < 0.001). BNP levels slightly increased with no statistical significance. The HRV decreased (P = 0.018). There were no significant changes in blood pressure, weight, O2 saturation or ejection fraction.

Conclusions: Descent to, ascent from, and stay at the Dead Sea resort are safe and might be beneficial in some aspects for patients with sCHF and an ICD.
 

April 2011
M. Harari, E. Dramsdahl, S. Shany, Y. Baumfeld, A. Ingber, V. Novack and S. Sukenik

Background: Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are required by the skin for the production of vitamin D. The intensity of UVB at the Dead Sea area is the lowest in the world. Low vitamin D levels are often associated with musculoskeletal symptoms.

Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of climatotherapy at the Dead Sea on the production of vitamin D in Norwegian patients suffering from various rheumatic diseases and to investigate possible associations between increased vitamin D serum levels, musculoskeletal symptoms and disease severity.

Methods: Sixty Norwegian patients who came to the Dead Sea area for 21 days of medical rehabilitation were divided into three groups according to their diagnosis: chronic pain syndromes, i.e., low back pain or fibromyalgia (Group 1, n=33); rheumatoid arthritis (Group 2, n=16); and osteoarthritis (Group 3, n=11). Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH-D) levels were determined at arrival and prior to departure. The treatment protocol included daily sun exposure (climatotherapy), bathing in the Dead Sea and mineral spring water (balneotherapy), mud applications and fitness classes.

Results: 25-OH-D serum levels increased significantly from 71.3 ± 26.6 nM at arrival to 89.3 ± 23.2 nM prior to departure (P < 0.001). Adjusted for the initial levels of pain (assessed by a visual analog scale) and disease severity, a direct correlation was observed between increased 25-OH-D serum levels and pain reduction (P = 0.012) and reduction of disease severity (P = 0.02).

Conclusions: Climatotherapy at the Dead Sea induces significant changes in vitamin D. Increased 25-OH-D serum levels are associated with reduced musculoskeletal pain and disease severity.
 

February 2009
G. Sherman, L. Zeller, A. Avriel, M. Friger, M. Harari and S. Sukenik

Background: Balneotherapy, traditionally administered during a continuous stay at the Dead Sea area, has been shown to be effective for patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis.

Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of an intermittent regimen of balneotherapy at the Dead Sea for patients with knee osteoarthritis.

Methods: Forty-four patients with knee osteoarthritis were included in a prospective randomized single-blind controlled study. The patients were divided into two groups: a treatment group (n=24), which were treated twice weekly for 6 consecutive weeks in a sulfur pool heated to 35–36°C, and a control group (n=20) treated in a Jacuzzi filled with tap water heated to 35–36°C. Participants were assessed by the Lequesne index of osteoarthritis severity, the WOMAC index, the SF-36 quality of health questionnaire, VAS scales for pain (completed by patients and physicians), and physical examination.

Results: A statistically significant improvement, lasting up to 6 months, was observed in the treatment group for most of the clinical parameters. In the control group the only improvements were in the SF-36 bodily pain scale at 6 months, the Lequesne index at 1 month and the WOMAC pain score at the end of the treatment period. Although the patients in the control group had milder disease the difference between the two groups was not statistically significant.

Conclusions: Intermittent balneotherapy appears to be effective for patients with knee osteoarthritis.

November 2007
A.D. Goldbart, A.D. Cohen, D. Weitzman and A. Tal

Background: Rehabilitation camps can improve exercise tolerance and nutrition in cystic fibrosis patients.

Objectives: To assess weight gain, pulmonary function tests and daily symptoms in European CF[1] patients attending a rehabilitation camp at the Dead Sea, Israel.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective study assessing 94 CF patients who participated in winter camps held at the Dead Sea, Israel from 1997 to 2000. The camp program included daily physiotherapy, physical activities, and a high caloric diet. We assessed weight gain, pulmonary function tests, oxyhemoglobin saturation and daily symptoms before (pre), on departure (dep), and up to 3 months after the 3 week rehabilitation camp post). All data were analyzed by ANOVA for repetitive measurements. P < 0.05 was considered significant.

Results: Lung function tests and oxyhemoglobin saturation taken before, on departure and 3 months after camp were available for 35 patients. Forced expiratory volume in the first second (% predicted, average ± SD) improved by 8.2 ± 2.3% (pre, dep, post, P < 0.05). Oxyhemoglobin saturation mildly improved (1 ± 0.3%, pre, dep, post, P < 0.05). Forced vital capacity (% predicted) increased by 3.9 ± 1.2%, but was not significant (P = 0.19). Total body weight of 89 patients improved by 1.9 ± 0.9% during the camp time (P < 0.05, t-test), and in a group of 24 patients weight continuously increased up to 5.0 ± 1.7% at 3 months after the camp (P = 0.004, ANOVA).

Conclusions: In this attrition-limited retrospective study, European CF patients improved their pulmonary function and gained weight during and up to 3 months after a 3 week rehabilitation winter camp at the Dead Sea, Israel.






[1] CF = cystic fibrosis


June 2007
D. Matceyevsky, N. Yaal Hahoshen, A. Vexler, N. Asna, A. Khafif, R. Ben-Yosef

Background: Mucositis and dermatitis are frequently encountered in patients treated with radiochemotherapy. Dead Sea products that contain minerals and different substances have proved effective in treating various skin diseases.

Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of Dead Sea products in reducing acute radiochemotherapy‑induced side effects in patients with head and neck cancer.

Methods: In this phase 2 study we compared the outcomes in 24 treated patients and 30 conventionally treated patients matched for age, tumor site, and type of treatment. The Dead Sea products comprised a mouthwash solution (Lenom®) and a skin cream (Solaris®) used three times daily for 1 week before, during, and up to 2 weeks after completion of radiotherapy. Mucositis and dermatitis were evaluated using common toxicity criteria.

Results: Thirteen treated patients (54%) had grade 1-2 and none had 3-4 mucositis, while 17 controls (57%) had grade 1-2 and 4 (13%) had grade 3-4 mucositis. Thirteen treated patients (54%) had grade 1-2 dermatitis; there was no instance of grade 3-4 dermatitis, while 11 patients in the control group (37%) had grade 1-2 and 5 (17%) had grade 3-4 dermatitis. More patients in the control arm needed a break than the patients in the treatment arm (P = 0.034[T1]).

Conclusions: The two Dead Sea products tested decreased skin and mucosal toxicity in head and neck cancer patients receiving radiochemotherapy.
 

July 2005
S. Codish, S. Dobrovinsky, M. Abu Shakra, D. Flusser and S. Sukenik
 Background: The efficacy of spa therapy in ankylosing spondylitis has not been investigated extensively.

Objective: To study the efficacy of balneotherapy and climatic therapy (climatotherapy) at the Dead Sea area in patients with ankylosing spondylitis.

Methods: In a single-blind randomized controlled study, 28 patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis were allocated into two groups of 14 patients each. The first group (the combined treatment group) received balneotherapy (mud packs and sulfur pool) and exposure to the unique climatic conditions of the Dead Sea. The second group (the climatotherapy group) used the fresh water pool and experienced the same climatic conditions. The duration of treatment was 2 weeks and the follow-up period 3 months.

Results: For both patient groups a significant improvement was found in the outcome measures: Bath AS[1] Disease Activity Index (P = 0.002), Visual Analog Scale for pain (P = 0.002) and VAS[2] for spinal movement (P = 0.011). The variability was explained by the effect of time (within group effect) rather than the type of treatment (within group effect). Quality of life, assessed by the SF-36 questionnaire, was very low prior to the study, but improved in terms of pain amelioration in the combined treatment group.

Conclusions: Climatotherapy at the Dead Sea area can improve the condition of patients suffering from long-standing ankylosing spondylitis.


 


[1] AS = ankylosing spondylitis

[2] VAS = Visual Analog Scale


February 2005
R. Yagev, E. Tsumi, J. Avigur, P. Polyakov, J. Levy and T. Lifshitz
 Background: Uveitis is an acute or chronic inflammatory process of the uvea caused by a number of etiologies. In many patients the etiology is unknown.

Objective: To investigate the effect of the Dead Sea environment (climatotherapy) on the signs, symptoms and clinical course of chronic uveitis.

Methods: Fifty-five patients with chronic uveitis were examined at the beginning and end of a 3–4 week stay at the Dead Sea region and on repeat visits to the region. Study data included demographic information, medical history, etiology, diagnosis, medication, and a complete ophthalmic examination.

Results: Statistically significant improvements were seen between the two examinations within each visit in four parameters (negative values indicate improvement): a) visual acuity for near and far: Jaeger (‑1.18 ± 0.28, P < 0.0001) and best corrected visual acuity (‑0.08 ± 0.02, P < 0.0001); b) anterior chamber flare (-0.18 ± 0.06, P < 0.01); c) anterior chamber cells (-0.16 ± 0.05), P < 0.001); and d) vitreous cells (-0.15 ± 0.09, P < 0.05). There was a significant mean improvement during visits to the Dead Sea area and a slight dissipation of the effect during the intervals between visits. Sixty-four percent of the patients reported that they required less medication and had fewer and milder attacks of uveitis following the visits.

Conclusions: The results of this study provide evidence of short- and possibly long-term improvement in the signs and symptoms of uveitis following exposure to the Dead Sea environment.

S. Sukenik, M. Abu-Shakra and D. Flusser
Legal Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or medical advice on any matter.
The IMA is not responsible for and expressly disclaims liability for damages of any kind arising from the use of or reliance on information contained within the site.
© All rights to information on this site are reserved and are the property of the Israeli Medical Association. Privacy policy

2 Twin Towers, 35 Jabotinsky, POB 4292, Ramat Gan 5251108 Israel