By Lisa Sigell

WEST HOLLYWOOD ( — The Dead Sea may be a long flight away, but one spa is recreating its healing properties right here in West Hollywood.

Elias Amkie was inspired to create Grotto de Sal after he was diagnosed with debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. A friend suggested visiting the Dead Sea in Israel.

No pills, no shots, just water?

“I took a very painful flight and on, four days later, I was no longer using the cane,” he said.

For thousands of years, people have flocked to the Dead Sea for relief, soaking in the waters, salts and muds. Amkie’s goal after his own healing was to help others feel the same.

The Grotto’s treatments are meant to work together or alone – a medical evaluation determines the best treatment, whether the patient needs relief from pain or anxiety.

Many people start in the salt room, where a filter blows in ground-up salt particles in process called halotherapy. Unlike other rooms in Southern California, these pools are not simply Epson salt; Grotto’s salt is imported from the Dead Sea.

“It’s great for lung problems, emphysema, asthma,” said Mike Shapiro, the spa’s medical director.

The flotation room features a tank that contains so much Dead Sea salt, one floats, just like in the actual Dead Sea.

“It’s a feeling of weightlessness and healing,” one client said.

Floating is used for everything from healing physical pain to circulation to help with sleep. Because of the magnesium and 27 other minerals in the water, one can simply float in a deep state.

And then there’s cryotherapy, a chill that just might become addicting. It is all the rage with celebrities and athletes to help with rehab and to boost stamina.

What looks likes a rocket is really a 1-3 minute treatment with socks and mittens on. Step in, breath and temperature around your body quickly drops between -200 and -240 degrees Fahrenheit.

The chill forces blood into body’s core and causes an endorphin rush.

Time for a break, maybe a Dead Sea salt scrub or mud mask. The medical director can find what’s best for you and what insurance covers. Still, clients say, they wouldn’t trade nature’s medicine for anything.

“There is not one pill on this earth that will do that,” a dedicated client said.


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