The Healing Sun and Health

The relationship between the healing sun and healthy living seems to be hardwired into humans and animals alike.  Science class taught us that the sun gives life. Plants and animals rely on sunlight for food, warmth and light. It tells us when to wake and when to sleep, for the night or for the season.

Despite warnings, we don bathing suits, sleeves tops and shorts to bare our bodies to the sun when weather allows. Few things in life feel as good as the first penetrating sun rays warming you to the bone after a long, cold winter.

Animals live in closer harmony with nature than modern day humans. Ignorant of dire warnings about the dangers of sunshine, wild animals and household pets often seek out sunny spots to rest.

Benefits of Sunlight

benefits of sunlight

Enjoyed wisely, the benefits of sunlight far outweigh the risks.

Full-spectrum sunlight is light and color therapy at its finest. Sunlight looks golden yellow, but is really all the colors of the rainbow combined together. Each color frequency affects your body and mind in different ways. When you are outside, you expose yourself to all the healing sunlight color frequencies.

Artificial lighting uses only part of the spectrum. Glass windows block UV rays.

Naturopathic doctors, old time medical doctors, and mental health providers knew of the connection between sun and health. They took advantage of its antibiotic-like effects. Patients in sanatoriums spent time outside soaking up the healing sun rays for physical and mental healing. It was a common and effective tuberculosis treatment. Before lighted beds came along, sunlight helped heal jaundiced infants. It helps heal skin conditions like psoriasis and acne.

Several years ago I experienced the healing power of the sun. After months of lingering cough and acne on my face and back cleared completely after only three days of enjoying the intense Jamaican sun and ocean water.

Our biorhythms are in sync with light and darkness. 

sun and health

A few minutes of early morning sunshine help regulate sleep inducing melatonin. 

When your eyes take in morning sunlight, they send a message to the pineal gland in your brain to turn down melatonin production. Sun exposure signals your brain to make fell good chemicals. Serotonin improves mood and helps you wake up. Dopamine stimulates the pleasure center of the brain, and helps you feel energetic and alert. The darkening night sky completes the cycle by signalling your brain to release melatonin to promote sleepiness. If you have trouble sleeping, try getting at least 15 minutes of early morning sun time and see if that helps.

Face away from the sun and look with opened, unprotected eyes to the sky. Blink often. You may face the sun for a brief period with your eyes closed. If you do this, keep your eyes moving. Move your head also. Indirect sunlight may improve vision and eye health. Looking directly at the bright sun can damage your eyes.

The relationship of sun and healthy mental/emotional states is so important that research shows rat brain cells linked to emotion actually begin dying when deprived of light. If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or the winter blues, you can blame lack of sunlight for causing underactive emotional centers in your brain and a short supply of serotonin.

The sun and healthy vitamin D production go hand in hand. This vital fat soluble steroidal prohormone is made by your skin when it receives UV B rays. 

Vitamin D receptors are located in every cell and tissue in your body including the brain. It helps regulate approximately 3,000 genes in the body, making the benefits of vitamin D enormous.

  • It helps your body absorb and metabolize phosphorus and calcium for strong, healthy bones. 
  • It promotes sound sleep, good moods, and weight control. 
  • Vitamin D supports the immune system. It eases autoimmune flare ups,  mobilizes infection fighting agents, and provides significant protection from several cancers including colorectal and breast cancers.

Allow 10-15 minutes of direct sun around high noon at least twice a week to benefit from UV B rays. Expose as much of your skin as possible. Do not burn. Burning damages your skin and increases your risk of skin cancer for years after. Refrain from washing your skin with anything but water for several hours before or after. Your body oils are needed for making vitamin D.

Your body has built in controls to limit how much vitamin D you store in a day, which prevents toxicity. If you supplement, get regular blood tests to ensure an optimal range of 50-70 ng/ml. Over 100ng/ml is toxic.

If you have a medical condition requiring you to avoid direct sunlight, ask your medical provider what amount and intensity of sunlight is safe for you.

The sun and your skin work together to make nitric oxide. As you make vitamin D, you are also making nitric oxide. This molecule lowers blood pressure by dilating blood vessels, which also ensures adequate blood supply to the organs. Nitric oxide also helps regulate the immune system.  

When warmth and sunlight are rare, you may enjoy benefits of sunlight by using electron ballast tanning beds twice a week to make vitamin D. Follow timing recommendations. For the winter blues, use bright full spectrum light bulbs or  a light box. My sister swears by hers.

Part of living in harmony with nature and living a healthy life is getting safe and adequate sun exposure. It makes it possible for you to enjoy the benefits of vitamin D and nitric oxide. The sun and healthy immune function, skin and hormone production go hand in hand. Listen to your body and use common sense. While outside enjoying the many natural benefits of sunlight, add some deep breathing and exercise to feel even better.

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