The healing powers of sand

In Egypt, aching bodies are submerged in the searing desert

A worker stands next to a patient buried in the hot sand in Siwa, Egypt.

Burying yourself in the scorching desert sand of high summer may seem like torture, but, for some Egyptians, it's medicinal. In Siwa, Egypt, amid the rolling sand dunes of an oasis, aching bodies seek out the healing powers of the blistering heat. Patients suffering from rheumatism, joint pain, infertility, or even impotence, are stripped of their clothes and buried up to their necks in the sand, where they stay for 15 minutes. Workers will massage their exposed heads and make sure they are shaded from the sun. Once excavated, the bathers will take refuge in a nearby sauna tent where they relax, while sipping hot mint tea.

And then they do it all over again. "Between three and nine days of sand baths are recommended to feel any benefit," one owner told Reutersreporter Asmaa Waguih. Below, a look at this unique tradition and the brave customers who pay to be buried.

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Jackie Friedman

Jackie Friedman is the assistant photo editor at She is a graduate of the photojournalism program at Kent State University and now lives in New York.