Allergy sufferers like me know that spring allergies can be a major hindrance to trekking.
I heard that halotherapy or speleotheraphy (salt therapy) was used by King Herod to alleviate his respiratory problems. Halotherapy involves spending time in a salt mine and breathing the cool salt mine air.
A few years ago during severe Spring allergies, my sneezing and runny nose prompted me to follow the footsteps of Herod and embark on a salt therapy trek. This trek took me to Mount Sodom.
Mount Sodom is a small mountain made up entirely of halite (rock salt) about six miles long, 742 feet high, and located along the southwestern side of the Dead Sea in Israel. Sodom is well known biblically as the place where Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt; and you can actually see a rock formation on Mount Sodom shaped like a human form that is called Lot’s wife.
I arrived at the salt mountain early in the day in bright sunshine when there were only a few visitors, so the view was magnificent without any obstruction.
There were several tunnels or caves in Mount Sodom, and upon entry I observed several vertical chimneys leading into the caves. These were no doubt created by centuries of rainwater that dissolved the salt, and flowed down through the mountain. Some of the chimneys were high and steep and if you are brave or foolhardy enough, you can rappel down the walls. I was content to explore the many caves instead, and inhale the therapeutic salt air.
The tunnels and caverns were cool inside, fanned by the wind blowing through them. After an hour of exposure to the cool salt cave air, I have to admit I was breathing like a normal person again and my sneezing disappeared. I guess both Herod and Lot’s wife had healthy lungs. If you ever visit this region, I suggest that you plan a trip to the caves in this mountain of salt, and remember to take a look at Lot’s wife rock formation. Just be careful you don’t look back! Credit for Lot’s wife pic http://israel-tourguide.info/2009/12/30/mount-sodom/
Floating in the Dead Sea
Close to Mount Sodom, lies the Dead Sea which is the lowest point on dry land, about 1,371 feet below sea level. The therapeutic benefits of the mineral rich Dead Sea has been acclaimed by many, including King Herod who was fond of his frequent soaks. You can also float around in the Dead Sea without sinking, which can be a great experience for non swimmers.
Flush with excitement from my cleared lungs, I jumped into the Dead Sea which was a grave mistake. The water is salty, bitter, and smells of sulphur. My splashing got water into my eyes and mouth and I had to beat a hasty retreat into nearby showers. After this harsh lesson, I learnt to float calmly on my back making sure to keep my head out of the water.
The water is soothing, but when you get out, you have to take a long soapy shower to get the mineral rich and sulphur smell off your body. The mineral content of the water is reputed to be beneficial to persons suffering from psoriasis, and various skin problems. The Dead Sea mud is also used as pain relieving compresses for those suffering from osteoarthritis. If you suffer from these conditions, it is worth a visit to try out these remedies.
From all reports, King Herod had flawless skin. The Dead Sea was his personal spa, and he even built a huge palace and fortress on the western side of the sea. The ruins of his magnificent palace are accessible the public and you can take a trek there after your therapeutic soak!