The ocean has many healing benefits for both the mind and body. Sea water stimulates our body and promotes the feeling of well-being. We as a family spend time in the ocean as medicine at least twice a week. Particularly over the last year with home schooling and working from home, it has been a wonderful way to shake off the day, reduce stress and connect with nature.
Thousands of years ago Hippocrates discovered that sea water helped heal wounds, prevented infections and eased pain. Historically, doctors would recommend their patients go to the seaside to improve their health and in the UK we have a term ‘take to the waters’ as a physical venture into healing, cleansing and rejuvenation.
One of my fond childhood memories is my uncle Geoff, who lives in Salisbury UK, using this phrase each summer as his annual healing seaside excursion. Some doctors even gave prescriptions detailing exactly how long their patients were to be in the water as ‘thalassotherapy’ as well as drinking sea water too.
We as a family, soak and swim in the ocean for 45 – 60 minutes, 2-3 times a week. We have a game of apple sea bobbing so we get to drink a little sea water too which is a great source of good bacteria for your gut microbiome.
7 Top Healing Benefits of Seawater
1. Great for your Skin
Sea water is antiviral, antibacterial and enhances wound healing due to the high sodium and iodine content. Sea water is also high in the minerals calcium, potassium and magnesium. Magnesium is a co-factor in over 300 reactions in the body, so it is essential for life and it also helps your skin maintain moisture making it stronger and look more youthful. Due to the above minerals, sea water is also great for chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
2. Great for your Respiratory System
Ocean swimming is associated with reduced symptoms of hay fever, sinusitis, asthma and other respiratory symptoms. A great research paper in the American Family Physician found that this is due to the saline effect on the the lining of sinuses which reduces inflammation and mimics the body’s own fluids, so not to cause irritation. It stands to reason then that anyone who is unwell and admitted to hospital one of the first things they do is put the patent on a saline drip.
3. Reduces Stress
The high magnesium content in sea water has a calming effect on your nervous system so you will feel calmer and more relaxed. As you float in the sea water the weightlessness of water can also have calming effect on the mind, slowing down and even changing brain waves into a relaxed and meditative state. Swimming in the sea also reduces your blood pressure and can support better sleep patterns.
4. Strengthens your Immune System
Your number of red blood cells increases between 5 to 20% after a swim in the sea. The number of white blood cells increases even more. Sea water is a fantastic natural medicine for people with a weakened immune system, anaemia, and even high blood sugar levels.
5. Reduces Pain
Ocean water can help ease muscle pain, arthritis, and pain associated with post-surgical procedures due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Swimming in the sea is also great for your circulation, particularly if you embrace cold water exposure which supports healing and increases the release of dopamine and serotonin so you also feel happier.
6. Reduces the Appearance of Cellulite
Swimming in the sea puts pressure on your tissues and lymph vessels which promotes the flow of lymph which can improve the appearance of cellulite.
7. Supports your Thyroid
Sea Water is high in iodine which is essential for a healthy thyroid. You can also add seaweed flakes to your diet in salads or include nori sheets used in sushi rolls, to boost your iodine intake. If you don’t like eating seaweed or drinking sea water, sea air is also a good source of iodine. New research published in the Irish Medical Journal found that continued exposure to seaweed-rich air is able to supplement an individual’s iodine intake.
Seawater is therefore very healing and has stood the test of time to support both mind and body balance. If you don’t live near the sea and find it difficult to swim in the ocean you can run a bath and add 1 cup of epsom salts which is also high in magnesium. Put on a track with ocean sounds, light your favourite candle and spray your face with the lovely Minty Hydration Mineral Mist which is also infused with natural sea water. If you don’t have a bath, a foot bath will work so you can escape to the seaside even in your mind, relax, unwind and embrace all the healing benefits the sea has to offer.
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Dr Simoné Laubscher PhD