The Health Benefits of Sunlight
When talking about the benefits of sunlight therapy, I am not advocating sunburns. I am talking about responsible sunlight exposure which will affect our health in a positive way.
It is not my intention to dismiss or offend people who read this who may have suffered from the trauma of having skin cancer, but I would like to re-examine the blunt statement expressed in many articles, that sunlight is bad for us.
As in all things, we need to look at sunlight from a yin-yang perspective… health will always be related to balance of these two forces. If we have too much of one of these forces, we will suffer imbalance and become sick.
Sunlight brings warmth and life to our planet. We would not exist without it.
Sunlight is yang energy. It vitalizes our system!
Lack of sun exposure can lead to fertility problems, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), cancer, fungus, arthritis…
From the perspective of yin yang theory, sunlight is yang. It will improve all health conditions resulting from too yin conditions. Most of the health challenges in our society are yin conditions (also read: yin and yang, yin and yang in food, foods that kill, macrobiotic diet).
Medical literature on sunbathing is contradictory: one field of investigation highlights the benefits while another stresses the dangers.
Indeed, to fully appreciate the beneficial effects of sunlight it is sometimes advantageous to put aside conventional medical thinking altogether and look to other traditions of healing.
(One of the more unfortunate developments in modern medicine is a trend towards specialization. Under these circumstances it is difficult not to be influenced by the views of experts in one field or another and miss the wider picture.)
Therapeutic properties of sunlight were held much higher during periods when prevention was considered to be as important as cure.
Sunlight therapy was a medicine of the pre-antibiotic era, when infectious diseases were commonplace and the only defense against them was a strong immune system.
Since then, for about fifty years, tuberculosis, pneumonia, septicemia and a host of other potentially fatal illnesses have been kept under control by antibiotics.
Unfortunately an increasing number of bacteria are becoming resistant to drugs and there are signs that the development of new antibiotics is falling behind the ability of organisms to adapt and acquire resistance.
If matters do not improve, then therapies which increase our natural resistance to disease may receive rather more attention than they have in recent years.
Please note: There are medical conditions which are made worse by exposure to sunlight, and some drugs, such as antihistamines, oral contraceptives, anti-diabetic agents, tranquilizers, diuretics and a number of antibiotics, increase sensitivity to the sun.
You can also explain it more 'scientifically':
Melatonin is a hormone that controls sleep, and serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is tied to states of wakefulness and being in a “good mood.” Serotonin is the anti-depressants chemical in the bloodstream which helps elevate mood.
When the body perceives sunlight, serotonin and endorphin levels increase. And the more sunlight the human body is exposed to, the more serotonin the brain produces.
When the sunlight hits the optic nerve, some of that light is sent to the gland in the brain in charge of melatonin. In response, melatonin secretion decreases. When the sun goes down, the body increases its secretion of melatonin.
The overall effect is “downtime” at night and “uptime” during the day.
When natural Sunlight isn't available…
Mainstream light therapy (also called phototherapy) includes the use of ultraviolet light to treat psoriasis and other skin disorders, and the use of full-spectrum or bright light to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Light therapy for SAD was first introduced in the 1980s and is now a widely approved form of treatment for the disorder.
The purpose of bright light therapy in mainstream psychiatric treatment is the relief of seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression most often associated with shortened daylight hours from late fall to the early spring.
It is also employed to treat insomnia and jet lag.
Recently, light therapy has also been found effective in the treatment of such nonseasonal forms of depression as Bipolar Disorders. Light therapy for SAD and nonseasonal forms of depression is thought to work by triggering the brain's production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter related to mood disorders. Other researchers think that light therapy may relieve depression or jet lag by resetting the body's circadian rhythm, or inner biological clock.
Chromotherapy is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a first-line treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It shows comparable effectiveness to antidepressants.
Other potential uses: ante-partum and post-partum depression, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Exposure to sun during the day will regulate the natural rhythm of hormone production, Serotonin during in the light hours of the day and Melatonin during the dark hours.
Skin irritations such as acne, rashes, eczema, and athlete’s foot can be cured by sun exposure.
The sun can help regulate the production of hormones by stimulating the Pineal Gland regulating its secretions, which may allow for more creativity, insight, and mindfulness, as well as helping to improve your mood, helping decrease symptoms of PMS or menopause.
Sunlight can help improve liver function, and assist in breaking down wastes and toxins in the body.
Exposure to the sun increases both white and red blood cell count and helps the blood circulate more efficiently.
The most known benefit of sunlight: Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body regulate the immune system, increase calcium absorption, which leads to strong bones, and avoid kidney stones, diabetes, and even obesity. D3 also improves cognitive functions and decreases the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
So how do you sunbathe responsibly, in order to receive the sun’s gifts without being over-exposed? Most importantly is to know how long you should spend in direct sunlight at one time and choosing the best times of day.
Early morning and before sunset are ideal times for sunbathing.
Increase your time in the sun gradually. As you spend more time in the sun, your skin produces more melanin – the pigment giving you a tan. Never stay out long enough to become red or burned.
Don't use it...
Not only does sunscreen not prevent skin cancer, it can cause cancer in several ways.
When you wear sunscreen your body does not produce Vitamin D3 from sunlight. This amazing vitamin is incredibly important for your health and is known to help prevent numerous types of cancer.
The vast majority of sunscreens contain a numerous harmful chemicals. These chemicals are absorbed into your skin, weakening the immune system and making your body more susceptible to many diseases, including cancer.
If you are in a situation that requires exposure to the sun for a long time, try to wear a hat and long sleeves to cover your skin… and drink a lot of water.
The safest ways to protect your skin are to pay attention to how much sun your body can handle, drink lots of water, and to eat a healthy, clean diet.
The light and warmth of the sun are required by all life on earth.