Renè Quinton was a biologist who, at the beginning of the last century, saw sea water as an important source of health for the body. Indeed, he considered this water as a real medicine, similar to the blood that flows in the body and able to keep alive, according to Quinton, something that can survive just in the blood and organic liquids, the white blood cell. Sea water can enter the body through the skin but can also be taken orally or sprayed into the nose.
Bathing in the sea
But why sea water can be a medicine? This water in fact contains sodium but also other mineral salts such as calcium, phosphorus, bromine, magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron and iodine. These substances increase in percentage gradually going into depth in the sea but are present in good quantity even on the surface, which is the water where we dive to have a bath (Nani et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, Dec 2016). And what a health bath! In fact, as evidenced by scientific studies (Waring et al, University of Birmingham, Proksch et al, Int J Dermatol, Feb 2005), the human body absorbs the precious mineral salts contained in water through the pores of the skin. But this is also a healthy bath because bathing in a saline solution improves the functionality of the skin barrier, increases tissue hydration and reduces possible skin inflammation (Proksch et al, Int J Dermatol, Feb 2005). Finally, swimming and walking in sea water exercise a gentle massage on the limbs, conunteract water retention and improve blood circulation. Have you chosen a holiday far from the beach or have you decided to stay at home? Don’t worry, you can guarantee some benefits of sea water even at home. When you prepare a bath, add a handful of coarse sea salt to the warm or hot water and stay in!
Sea to drink
But the sea can also reach us in … a vial to drink. This water, taken in depth to avoid contamination by bacteria and to guarantee a richness of mineral salts, can be taken orally to ensure interesting benefits. In fact, as proven by scientific studies (Nani et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, Dec 2016 - Hou et al, J Int Soc Sports Nutr., Feb 2013), sea water in the vial, thanks to the minerals it contains, accelerates recovery after intense physical activity, can help lower LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides, thus demonstrating a protective effect on the cardiovascular system. Magnesium and calcium that can be found in sea water are useful to fight the formation of atherogenic plaques, keep blood sugar under control and, thanks to their action in synergy with sodium, regulate blood pressure. Then, even if the action has not yet been fully understood, seawater would also act against obesity and overweight. Finally, sea water is considered to be potentially anti-cancer. In fact, it shows an inhibitory action on breast cancer metastases and, when used to prepare green tea, increases the action of the main antioxidant of this drink, epigallocatechin gallate (Kim et al, Int J Oncol, Nov 2013). In any case, the studies refer to water taken at great depths and sold in special vials with tested and balanced content, do not drink plenty of sea water that you find on the surface!
Sea water nasal sprays
In all chemist’s shops you can find sprays containing sea water to be sprayed into the nasal cavities in case of stuffy nose, allergies or sinusitis. These nasal sprays can be hypertonic or isotonic, you can read it on their label, referring to the fact that in the hypertonic solution the concentration of salts is higher than that found in the body, while isotonic means that it has the same concentration, around 0.9%, of salts in the body (Michel et al, Laryngorhinootologie, 2011). Based on scientific studies it has been found that hypertonic solutions are more effective than isotonic solutions in terms of improving nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, cough and headache (Casale et al, Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol., Mar 2018). In any case, isotonic saline solutions are also useful in mitigating the symptoms of cold during the acute phase and for prevention (Slapak et al, Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg., 2008).