Heliotherapy: Using sunlight to cure disease
by: Julie Wilson
(NaturalNews) The debate about whether sunlight is good or bad for us, and how much we actually need, continues. Like many considerations related to our health, the key is “moderation.” Solar Power for Optimal Health, written by Marc Sorenson, says that not only is sunlight crucial to our existence, but it can cure many illnesses, and has been used to do so for centuries.
The following except from Sorenson’s book weighs the benefits of vitamin D, and explores the historical contexts in which sunlight was used to cure diseases like tuberculosis.
“Since science has now established the benefits of vitamin D, why then would so many physicians, and the general public, recoil in fear from the thought of letting the sunlight touch their bodies? After all, when it contacts our skin, it produces large quantities of this marvelous prohormone.”
A brief history of the rise and fall of sunlight as therapy for disease
“Sunlight, in the view of many misguided health professionals and the patients they serve, is an enemy. Because of the injudicious (and in some cases deliberate) attack on sunlight, hundreds of thousands of people each year are afflicted with a host of completely avoidable diseases.
“These victims have vitamin D-depleted bodies because they live in sunless homes and work in sunless offices. And when we do go outside, we dutifully cover ourselves with clothing and pour sunscreen on any exposed areas. Unfortunately, sunscreens block up to 99.9% of vitamin D production by the skin in response to sunlight.
“Part of the following history of sunlight therapy is a compendium of Dr. John Fielder’s exceptionally well-written paper, History of Heliotherapy. From this history, one easily sees that the present disparagement of sunlight exposure contrasts starkly with the acceptance sunlight therapy enjoyed in the past.
“Many ancient peoples were sunbathers. The Egyptians, Babylonians, and Assyrians had sun gardens and gave the sun the status of a god. Hippocrates, the Greek physician known as the ‘father of medicine,’ recommended sunbathing and had his own large solarium, an enclosed area for sunning. This was also true of the ancient Romans, whose thermae (hot tubs and baths) were equipped with solaria. The Roman writer Pliny wrote that ‘the sun is the best remedy.'”
In the 1800s, sunlight was used to cure tuberculosis
“In the early 19th Century, scientists began to experiment with sunlight as a remedy and were so impressed with the results that they attempted to build a new system of therapeutics based on heliotherapy. In 1857 Madame Duhamel of France exposed children with TB to sunshine because it hastened their recovery.
“Madame Duhamel was correct about sunbathing healing tuberculosis (TB). Later on a disillusioned physician, Dr. Rollier, gave up a promising surgical practice and moved to the mountains of the Swiss countryside to practice medicine there. However, he discovered that the people needed little help, as they were seldom sick. People were always telling him, ‘Where the sun is, the doctor ain’t [sic].’
“In fact, Dr. Rollier’s fiancee had TB and would have died without intervention. He brought her to the Alpine area, exposed her regularly to sunshine, and she completely recovered. Dr. Rollier opened a sanatorium in 1903 that was really just an extremely large solarium with patient living quarters. There were 2,167 patients under Dr. Rollier’s care for TB following World War One. Of these, 1,746 completely recovered their health. Only those in the most advanced stages of the disease failed to recover.
“In 1895, Dr. Niels Finsen made use of the first artificial UV light in treating patients with a particularly virulent form of TB known as lupus vulgaris (a skin disease). Though the disease was considered incurable, 41 of every 100 patients under his care recovered. Finsen’s work earned the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1903.
“For many years afterward, heliotherapy was the treatment of choice for bacterial infections. Unfortunately for heliotherapy, however, penicillin was discovered in 1928 and sulfanilamide in 1939. Sulfanilamide in particular was effective against TB, so the era of antibiotic drugs was born and heliotherapy virtually forgotten.
“People still loved the sun, however, and sun tanning became popular for several decades. Then, as more evidence accumulated that sunlight exposure correlated to common skin cancer, the attitude toward sunshine began to change.”