Growing up, my parents or my grandparents, or specifically my grandfather would take me to Gulf of Mexico for a few days at a time. My Papa (grandfather) used to think if he could just get in the Gulf of Mexico, all of his ailments would be healed. First, he would try Lysol to cure things like bug bites, dandruff and my Grandmama nagging at him.

If that didn’t work, he would announce that we should go to the beach. He led a pretty wonderful life in rural Randolph County, Alabama, in that he and his buddies (me and a little dog of some sort) could head off on a whim with no preparation other than a stop at a gas station to get a wedge of hoop cheese wrapped in wax paper, crackers and a couple of cold Nehi soda waters.

He would talk on his radio along the way and the dog and I would hang our heads out of the windows. Thus, my love for places on the Florida Panhandle will forever be instilled with a picture of my Papa and his advice that the saltwater of the Gulf of Mexico could heal just about anything. He passed away many years ago, but he still “floats” with me out in the saltwater when I come back to the beach.

He could float for what seemed like hours. I would be on a cheap blowup raft and he on his back. So calm that a little boy had to bother him every once in a while to make sure he was still alive.

On this day, I was floating in the water and thinking about what he said about how the saltwater and air at the beach seem to medicinal. Maybe he read it in Popular Mechanics or some other magazine, but I think there is probably proof of this being correct. I am a scientist who lost many a nickel bet to my Papa who would bet me I couldn’t throw a piece of Styrofoam a given distance out in his yard.

He realized that the Styrofoam didn’t weigh enough, but a little boy saw it as a sure nickel. I lost every time and I don’t think I ever had to pay him.

So, the wonderful beaches and communities along the Gulf of Mexico are always yelling for me to “Come on down!” I know we can get a raft along the way and surely there will be a cinderblock building or open air market hawking boiled peanuts or fried chicken. It is the way life should be lived.

So after a successful sunburn on the first day, I decided to check out Papa’s theory. It didn’t matter if he was wrong, I would still swear by it, because Papa said it was so.

So, is salt water and the beach good for you?

A clinical psychologist has noted that “Staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state.” But we don’t want to just stare at it… We want to get in it…

Well Papa, they now say sea salt is packed with healthy skin-friendly minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium, which is which is what makes it so wonderful for various skin conditions (maybe even dandruff). The sea salt and maybe even the sand absorbs the toxins in the body and on the skin, including acne-causing bacteria, and works to heal infections.

Ok, it cleans your skin. It strengthens the immune system. The ocean water also slows down the development of rheumatism. It improves your breathing, helps fight liver and kidney problems, cleans out the large intestine and even prevents insomnia and reduces depression.

What about the nagging wife?

Again because the Gulf of Mexico’s salt water contains magnesium, it will calm you down. People who live a stressful life (and I suppose those who have nagging spouses) are advised to go to the beach, not only for its relaxing atmosphere and beautiful scenery, but also because of the soothing medicinal properties of the ocean water.

So just maybe, they should call it the “Gulf of Medicina” or “Gulf of Medicine.” Also please note that I loved my Grandmama and my Papa probably nagged at her just as much as she nagged at him.

Get to the beach and cure what ails you. Don’t eat too much hoop cheese though. As Papa used to say, “It’ll stop you up.”


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