Natural sunlight is essential for the growth of all life, even us human beings. We need sunlight for our body, mind and soul to flourish, and we are instinctively drawn to it, just as plants are. To feel sunlight on your face can be rejuvenating. The sun draws us outdoors, offering to build strong bones and teeth, and ward off rickets and dental decay. Without sunlight, we can suffer from light starvation, just as we can suffer malnutrition from lack of food (or lack of proper nutrition). The rhythm of day and night ruled how we lived, until 1879 when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. This enabled us to turn darkness into daylight, revolutionizing the way we live, with questionable advantages. Your goals in life need to be nutritionally supported. Physical goals require physical nutrition, and spiritual goals require spiritual nutrition. They are intertwined, so please educate yourself to provide your body, mind and soul with appropriate nutrition.
Light Rhythms, Cycles and Seasons
Besides sunlight, there are other sources of light that affect us such as the moon, stars, planets and even the comets. Together they all have a rhythm, a predictable cycle of seasonal ebbs and flows. All life does. As the moon waxes and wanes over 28 days, it pulls the tides, affects peoples moods and a woman's menstrual cycle. Crops should be planted on a waxing moon, and harvested on a waning moon. Optimal detoxification is more effective on the new moon, and the full moon is more desirable for maximum nutrient assimilation. These great rhythms are integrated in all life. From the rising and setting movement of the stars, people have created time. It is a human construct, this charting the rhythms of our light sources, putting parameters on an infinity of sameness.
Physical Nutrition from Sunlight
It is important to consider why we eat, and the role of food and drink in our nourishment. Doctors have long known that sunlight is a nutrient and healer, and now the health benefits of sunlight are being rediscovered. Sunlight is particularly useful in curing tuberculosis and deep skin wounds, and helpful with osteoporosis, depleted immune systems and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD - a type of winter depression, affecting an estimated half a million people every winter between September and April inthe northern hemisphere).
Sunlight for Tuberculosis
In the 1920s & 1930s, Heliotherapy sunbaths (helios is Greek for 'sun') were built for tuberculosis, in the Swiss Alps by Dr. Auguste Rollier (AD 1874-1954). He became the most celebrated practitioner of heliotherapy, until the coming of penicillin in 1938. With this drug industry, doctors became manipulated into prescribing pills, rather than free healing sunlight.
Sunlight for Improving Your Vision
Sunlight has also been used to improve vision. Dr. Bates, an oculist working in New York at the beginning of the twentieth century, developed a set of exercises to enable his patients to take in as much sunlight as possible. He believed that it should be possible to do away with glasses altogether. His work is supported by Dr. Jacob Liberman's book "Take Off Your Glasses and See" (read more below).
Sunlight for Curing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or The Winter Blues
Every year, from November to March people affected with SAD can be reduced to complete inactivity by the low levels of sunlight. Women are four times more affected than men. Symptoms range from mild blues to severe depression. Some say they have no motivation to get up in the morning or even to live at all. Other sypmtoms can be a low sex drive, overeating and weight gain. Some say they would like to be like bears; sleep through the winter and wake up in the spring. This disorder was named in 1981 by Dr. Norman Rosenthal, who researched the connection between light and the human brain for 20 years.
Spiritual Nutrition from Sunlight
People who live on high quality spiritual nutrition seem to be more fit and full of energy than those eating and drinking more conventionally. Therefore, it is important to gain an understanding of spiritual and physical nutrition. Taking in sunlight for nutrition can mean anything from consuming only high quality organic food & drink, to consuming pure sunlight only (absolutely no food or drink): living on the energy of sunlight itself. To be nourished simply by sunlight only, with no need for food or drink is a spiritual path. For most, this potential way of life is dormant. If you're drawn to living on pure sunlight alone, you can activate this potential: not an easy task. Thousands of people across the world have been living full and healthy lives by consuming only life energy from the sun. In times of fast, Yogis have drawn from within themselves, this energy they call prana. Jasmuheen's book "Living on Light" explains the process by which it's possible and, for some, desirable. Her story and teachings claim to have an importance for world hunger.
Sunlight and Hormones
Melatonin, Seratonin and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Your pineal gland controls puberty, and influences your sleep patterns by acting as a light meter. It secretes a hormone called melatonin (mela means 'dark' or 'black'), that programs you to sleep in the darkness. With less sunlight in the winter months, your levels of melatonin are high in both nighttime and daylight, inducing more sleep. Sunlight suppresses the secretion of melatonin. Sunlight travels to a part of your brain called the hypothalamus. This area is rich in serotonin, which influences melatonin secretion. Serotonin levels are lowest in the winter and can be stimulated by light therapy to regulate melatonin. The invention of the light bulb gave us a means of tackling SAD. Just as sunlight suppresses melatonin, so does light from a bulb.
Light Therapy... Mimic the Sun
Full-spectrum light therapy can lift moods and cure SAD, help eating disorders, and ease symptoms of detoxification from drugs and alcohol. Artificial, full-spectrum lights contain the full range of colours (the rainbow), with a level of ultraviolet light appropriate to natural daylight. They are available in clinics, and can be purchased for private use. There is even a dawn simulator available. It is a clock that lights up slowly before your alarm goes off, so that you wake-up to your own sunrise. About 85% of light deprivation sufferers find partial or total relief from their symptoms after a period of two hours in the presence of the lamp. Treatment is best when started in autumn, after waking in the morning, and can be split in to morning and early evening. Patients are encouraged to take daily walks in fresh air, and increase the lighting in their homes.
Lights to be Avoided
The common cool white fluorescent lights should be avoided, as they have excessive levels of yellow and orange, and too little red or blue. Most of our domestic lighting is concentrated on orange/red for a cozy effect, and deficient in green/blue. Research with full-spectrum lighting in schools has shown improvement with hyperactive children and their levels of dental decay. It is important to have full-spectrum lighting in public areas of work and leisure, such as schools, hospitals, prisons, offices and recreational spaces.
Pioneer of Light Research - John T. Ott
He was a successful Chicago banker for 20 years and through his photography hobby, became interested in photobiology. In 1927 he worked on Walt Disney nature documentaries with special time-lapse sequences that showed flowers opening and fruit ripening. In his own basement, he photographed plants under fluorescent lighting, coaxed seedlings to grow, and became intrigued by the connection between varying light waves and plant growth. In "My Ivory Cellar" (1958) he tells of a stubborn pumpkin, which would produce only all-male or all-female flowers, depending on what type of lighting the plant received.
Ott developed this research in the animal world too. He presented his findings to Loyola University, Chicago, and was awarded a doctorate in Science. Continuing his studies with the ways that light can enhance plant and animal health (and eventually human conditions), he founded the Environmental Health and Light Institute. Ott's work was met by polite indifference from the scientific community, but the public began to listen to his theories of malillumination, which is brought about by shielding ourselves from the full-spectrum daylight we need (with things such as sunglasses, sunscreens, tinted windows and windshields). Over the last 50 years, screens from movie theatres, TVs and computers have driven us indoors, depriving us of natural sunlight. John Ott developed an indoor lighting system to mimic the full-spectrum range of natural sunlight.
Ultraviolet Light is Safe - Dr. Jacob Liberman
In his book "Light: Medicine of the Future", Dr. Liberman emphatically states the importance of sunlight and the need for proper artificial lighting. Liberman talks about the benefits of ultraviolet light in a climate of fear, that seeks to eliminate exposure with sunglasses, sunscreens, and tinted windows. While agreeing with John Ott (that too much ultraviolet light is bad), Liberman points out that we all need a basic amount of UV light to support life and a healthy immune system. The benefits of UV light include the creation of vitamin D (to absorb calcium & minerals), lowering blood pressure, increasing efficiency of your heart, reducing cholesterol, assisting in weight loss, increasing sex hormones, activating the skin hormone solitrol (works with melatonin, see above), and is also an effective treatment for psoriasis, tuberculosis, and asthma.
Dr. Liberman maintains that the UV issue has been exaggerated beyond belief, and people have become paranoid about the sun harming them. He recommends spending an hour a day (at least) ourdoors, rain or shine, without glasses or sunscreens. Avoid exposure between 10 am and 2 pm, and do not stare directly at the sun. If sunglasses are needed to cut the intensity of the sunlight, then use neutral grey lenses. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, 14 out of 17 sunscreens, can be carcinogenic if used in the sun and contain PABA (paraaminobenzoic acid), designed to block UV radiations. Jacob Liberman's gained his doctorate in optometry at the University of Georgia in 1973, and his Ph.D. in Vision Science for his pioneering work in phototherapy. He has lectured extensively in the US and Europe, and treated well over 15,000 people with learning disablities and emotional trauma, from business executives to Olympic sportsmen. He is a leading figure in the world of holistic vision science, and a patron of the LIGHT Trust.