The Dead Sea has long been known as a natural treatment for skin, rheumatic and respiratory diseases. A new study by researchers from the health sciences faculty of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva suggests that the world’s diabetic community could be a dip away from healthier living.

According to the researchers, the Dead Sea’s salty waters help lower blood glucose levels and could improve the medical conditions of diabetics.

The study involved an initial sample group of 14 people between the ages of 18 and 65 who have suffered from Type 2 diabetes for less than 20 years. After soaking in a pool filled with Dead Sea water for 20 minutes, there was a considerable decrease – up to 13 percent in some cases – in the blood glucose levels.

These are findings from an initial study from which it is difficult to draw conclusions at this stage,” said research team leader Prof. Shaul Sukenik of Ben-Gurion University, who served until recently as the director of the Internal Medicine Department at Soroka Medical Center.

“Nevertheless,” Sukenik added, “the results are promising. We have yet to test what happens to the glucose levels beyond an hour after the dip.”

The researchers also found the dip in the Dead Sea water did not adversely affect the subjects’ other blood values, including their levels of insulin and cortisone hormones, and also their c-peptide levels, which are an indication of the ability to produce insulin in the pancreas.

“In the event that the findings are confirmed in further studies, a drop in blood glucose levels will allow diabetics who bathe in the Dead Sea to use less medication,” said Prof. Sukenik. “We cannot determine this on the basis of the current study, but the findings do allude to this.”

The findings of the study appeared in the August edition of the Israel Medical Association Journal.