Ray of Light
Giver of light and life, the sun is the biggest source of energy and healing in the universe. It’s been around forever, naturally, as there’d be no plant or animal life without it. With bodies that have built-in receptors to convert sunlight into energy, we are a tribe of sun people and are designed to be regularly exposed to sunshine sans sunscreen.
Unfortunately, the exaggerated dangers of the sun have overshadowed its health benefits, especially in regards to the prevention and treatment of many illnesses. But with common sense and an understanding of how the sun is a natural healer, you can reap its rewards, while basking in its warm, delicious glow.
From the late 1800s to the mid 1990s, sun clinics were extremely popular and treated various ailments with a prescription of sunshine and a healthy diet. One such center, started by Auguste Rollier in 1903 high in the Swiss mountains, where the power of the sun is stronger, was renowned for curing tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
Subsequent research in the 1990s found that the sun is the best source of vitamin D, which is essential for a healthy immune system and normal growth of bones and teeth. As vitamin D has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, it has also been linked to the prevention of heart disease, in addition to other illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis and certain cancers. And let's not forget about the beta endorphins that regulate moods and can ward off Seasonal Affect Disorder. Conversely, a vitamin D deficiency can lead to weakness, muscle cramps, osteoporosis and a general sense of feeling unwell.
If you are educated and aware you will likely recognize the benefits of sun therapy yourself. My daughter recently had a cough for three weeks that would just not go away in gray Amsterdam. After three days in beautiful, sunny Thailand, it cleared right up.
Expose Yourself (But Don’t Feel the Burn)
So why do so many people slather themselves and their children in sunscreen to block the healing power of our biggest star? Not only are they full of chemicals, sunscreens offer limited protection as they don’t block all types of UV rays meaning you can still get burned.
Additionally, regular, unprotected sun exposure helps prevent against melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, which typically occurs on areas of the skin that have had the least exposure to the sun.
Of course, you want to be smart and avoid any sunburn as that can lead to non-melanoma skin cancers. I’m not advocating that you spend three hours unprotected outside during the hottest part of the day. In fact, you should avoid the midday sun whenever possible. But consciously take time to be in the sun in the morning, starting with 10 or 15 minutes, building up from there and listening to your body when it tells you it's hot. The ideal time for full exposure—on the back is best—is 8:00-10:00 a.m. as Dr. Rollier found that morning sun has more healing benefits than late-day sun. Along with lots of water, a nutritious diet and exercise, sun is an essential component of maintaining a healthy body.
Spring is coming and it’s the best time to prepare for the summer sun by letting your body acclimate and increase its production of melanin. Try it and let me know if you feel sun kissed and blissed!