The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east, and Palestine and Israel to the west. Its surface and shores are 429 metres (1,407 ft) below sea level, Earth's lowest elevation on land. It is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean. This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which animals cannot flourish, hence its name.
The Dead Sea has attracted visitors from around the Mediterranean basin for thousands of years. In the Bible, it is a place of refuge for King David. It was one of the world's first health resorts (for Herod the Great), and it has been the supplier of a wide variety of products, from balms for Egyptian mummification to potash for fertilizers. People also use the salt and the minerals from the Dead Sea to create cosmetics and herbal sachets.
The region's climate and low elevation have made it a popular center for several types of therapies:
Climatotherapy: Treatment which exploits local climatic features such as temperature, humidity, sunshine, barometric pressure and special atmospheric constituents.
Heliotherapy: Treatment that exploits the biological effects of the sun's radiation.
Thalassotherapy: Treatment that exploits bathing in Dead Sea water.
Treatment for rhinosinusitis: Rhinosinusitis patients receiving Dead Sea saline nasal irrigation exhibited significantly better symptom relief compared to standard hypertonic saline spray.
Treatment for osteoarthritis: Dead Sea mud pack therapy has been suggested to temporarily relieve pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knees. According to researchers of the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, treatment with mineral-rich mud compresses can be used to augment conventional medical therapy.