Think of sitting on a quiet beach, listening to the waves, breathing in the sea air and taking a dip in the cool refreshing water. It is the ultimate place to go for relaxation and stress relief. However, ever wonder why you feel so good at the beach? There’s a good reason, and it’s more than just the fact that you escaped the turmoil of today’s society, it is actually backed up by some scientific explanation. There are many benefits of the sea for your health including great healing properties.
Some of the health benefits of the sea range from boosting the immune system, helping heal skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and rashes, easing aches and pains, moisturizing skin, relieving allergies, boosting circulation, and eliminating toxins. But wait! If you don’t feel like getting wet, you don’t have to swim in the sea to get some benefit, you can improve your health just by breathing in the sea air!
One reason why the sea provides health benefits is that sea water has nearly all the essential elements; the major constituents are magnesium, sodium, potassium, and calcium and these get absorbed through your skin. Sea water also has a salinity of 35 parts per thousand (3.5% sodium chloride, salt) and salt water is exceptional for healing.
My grandfather always said that if you want to heal anything, go swimming in the ocean. When he was a child in the 1930’s the family’s favorite thing to do was to load all seven children into the car, drive right up and camp on the beach! Of course back then the beach was practically deserted, the same beach is so different today!
There has been some research to support the health benefits of the sea and below is the breakdown:
Breathing Sea Air
Breathing in the sea air is so uplifting, I love smelling the salty air as I get close to the beach and I feel relief from any stress right away. The reason that sea air decreases stress and makes you feel great may be explained by the minerals in the sea air and the negatively charged ions. Sea air consists of a significant amount of negatively charged ions. Did you ever notice how you feel better, invigorated, after a lightening rainstorm? This is due to the release of negative ions. Negative ions are molecules in nature, found in great numbers in places such as the forest or waterfalls. The ocean spray which is loaded with negative ions helps strengthen immunological defense mechanisms and the iodine in the ocean mist helps regulate the thyroid gland (1). Another benefit of these negative ions is that they help us absorb oxygen and many believe that these molecules help balance serotonin levels which are connected to mood and stress. In our world today we are exposed to many positive ions (free radicals) from computers, electricity, T.V.’s and more. This is why it is especially good to increase our exposure to negative ions.
Swimming in the Sea
Up here on the east coast the ocean is often cold, even in the summer! But it is so invigorating! Did you know that according to some researchers by going in cold water you create a stressor and this helps boost your immune system? Also, a Czech study found that individuals who immerse in cold water three times a week increased their white blood cell count, the immune cells that fight infection (3). Although cool water is great, warm water is also beneficial as it relaxes your muscles and is beneficial in stress reduction. Another boost to the immune system is iodine (linked to fighting off infections) in sea water which increases thyroid function resulting in improving the immune system.
Swimming in the ocean has many health benefits for skin. After a trip to the beach this week I noticed some redness gone and smoother skin!
Research in the International Journal of Dermatology noted that sea water, a source of magnesium, aides in moisturizing the skin (3). Salt water is great for healing! Many people have experienced fast healing for skin wounds and skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and rashes. Research in the medical journal Skin Research and Technology noted that it is thought the salt and potassium chloride naturally occurring in sea water helps seal damaged skin and speeds healing (3). Minerals and amino acids present in sea water help draw out impurities and as toxins are removed, healing time speeds up during flare ups (4). Another reason that healing is faster is that the water increases circulation speeding up skin cell regeneration.
Rids Your Body of Toxins/Stress Reliever/Beneficial for Allergies
The salty sea water helps open up the pores and eliminate toxins. Go swimming, especially on a day when there is a lot of waves breaking, and get the benefits of a tremendous amount of negatively charged ions that decrease stress. Not only is the sound of the waves coming in calming and stress relieving, but the salty water with its minerals is a stress reliever preserving melatonin, tryptamine and serotonin (5).
Another one of the benefits of the sea water is that it helps allergies. It helps clear the nasal passages of irritating pollens (3).
How to Get Some Benefits of the Sea if You Can’t Go to the Beach
Instead of breathing sea air for negatively charged ions you can improvise by taking a misty shower which will also emit them.
Taking a bath in Epsom salts. Epsom salts are really magnesium-sulfate, a mineral that many people are deficient in and one that is a major constituent of sea water. The bath will relieve your stress, just like you’re at the beach, as magnesium helps elevate mood. Magnesium helps in tryptophan conversion for the neurotransmitter serotonin. As magnesium is depleted when we are under stress, replacing it is important.
Note: The beach is a great place to relax and get in some added health benefits, however safely swimming in the ocean does mean being cognizant of hazards such as: contaminated beaches, from oil spills, pollution from sewage run-off, and waterborne bacteria, which can spread from one person to another (7). It may be prudent not to go swimming with an open wound and the best day to go to the beach is when there are no crowds!