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the importance of sunshine beyond vitamin d


Benefits of Sunshine

“No life can exist on the Earth without the Sun.  Everything on the Earth, from favorable temperature conditions to creation of bioorganic mass and free oxygen in the atmosphere is created only due to the rays of the Sun. In  the  living  world,  a  number  of  systems  have  been created  that  are  capable  of  using  solar  radiation,  such  as photosynthesis in cyanobacteria and plants, regulation of diurnal rhythms by melatonin, etc. 

The  ability  to  synthesize  sterols [hormones]  is  thought  to  be  a very  ancient  property  of  living  organisms  because  these substances  are  indispensable  components  of  biological membranes.   There  is  clear  evidence  that  for  the  majority  of  animals  living  under  conditions  of  the  atmosphere,  from amphibians  to  primates,  a  vitally  indispensable  photo dependent  mechanism  of  vitamin  D  synthesis  has  been elaborated……”Cherry-picked from the January 2015 issue of Biochemistry (Vitamin D: The Sun Hormone. Life in Environmental Mismatch)

“There is an ongoing debate how to balance between beneficial and adverse effects of UV-exposure. On the one hand, solar UV-radiation represents the most important environmental risk factor for the development of non-melanoma skin cancer. Therefore, sun protection is a key principle to prevent these malignancies, especially in risk groups. On the other hand, artificial or solar UV-radiation is required for the cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D, that covers approximately 90% of the vitamin D-requirements of the human body.

Therefore, lack of UV-exposure is associated with an increased risk to develop vitamin D-deficiency. We know today that vitamin D-deficiency represents a serious health problem, for an association of vitamin D-deficiency and multiple independent diseases including various types of cancer, bone diseases, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, hypertension and cardiovascular disease has now been clearly indicated in a large number of laboratory and epidemiologic studies.

We and others have shown that strict sun protection causes vitamin D-deficiency / insufficiency and that detection and treatment of vitamin D-deficiency in sun deprived risk groups is of high importance. It is essential that public health campaigns and sun protection recommendations to prevent skin cancer consider these facts.”  From a 2008 issue of Solar Radiation and Human Health (Understanding Positive and Negative Effects of Solar UV-Radiation: A Challenge and a Fascinating Perspective)

“On a sunny summer day, total body sun exposure produces in the skin approximately more than 10,000 IU vitamin D per day. Considering this fact, concerns about toxic overdose with dietary supplements that exceed 800 IU vitamin D are poorly founded. Moreover, it has been speculated that a person would have to consume almost 67 times more vitamin D than the previously recommended intake for older adults of 600 IU to experience symptoms of overdosage. Vieth believes people need 4,000-10,000 IU vitamin D daily and that toxic side effects are not a concern until a 40,000 IU/day dose. Reports of other researchers are in line with these findings.”  Ibid

“Aside from its well-known effects on bone and mineral metabolism, vitamin D may also play an important role in extra-skeletal processes like immunologic diseases, cancer, or cardiovascular diseases.  Studies conducted in the general population revealed a much lower overall intake of vitamin D than the proposed RDAs. Thus, strategies to increase the vitamin D intake in the general population are needed to match the existing evidence and recommendations.”  The findings of a 10-member Austrian research team, published in a 2016 issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (Beneficial Effects of UV-Radiation: Vitamin D and Beyond)

What is Vitamin D and why is it important?  There are about a jillion studies on the benefits of getting enough Vitamin D and probably an equal number on the detriments of having a deficiency.  In fact, you could probably pick about any health related topic you choose and find Vitamin D studies reinforcing this idea.  In other words, Vitamin D is of critical importance to your health.  Why? 

For starters, it’s the precursor for virtually every hormone your body makes.  Not enough D, not enough hormones (can any of you men out there say “LOW T“?).  This is why Vitamin D is a vitamin in name only, and if discovered today, would not be labeled as such.  It’s a hormone precursor, antiinflammatory, and immune system modulator all rolled into one — and that’s just for starters.

Besides the fact that past generations ate diets consisting entirely of WHOLE FOODS, what is another key difference in the way they lived?  They were not only not exposed to artificial light sources, but were for the most part, regularly exposed to sunshine.  As humans, we need sunshine.  Don’t get me wrong, we can certainly stay alive without it, but can we truly live and thrive without regular exposure to sunshine?  Certainly there have been exceptions to the rule (for instance Eskimos). 

However, they made up for this fact by eating a diet containing massive amounts of cold-water fish (loaded with naturally occurring Vitamin D)   Today I want to show you that for the rest of us, sunshine is about much more than getting your Vitamin D, and is increasingly seen as being interwoven into to the very fabric of life itself.

For starters, what if I told you that every cell in your body (you have something like 100 trillion of them) contains photoreceptors / light receptors — organelles that sense the presence of light waves or photons.  It’s how LLLT (low level laser therapy) works.  The process itself is known as “photobiomodulation” and describes the mechanism whereby the body turns light energy into ATP by boosting mitochondrial function. 

Although your body can get the energy to manufacture ATP from a variety of sources, anything your body does that requires energy requires ATP.  In other words, ATP is the body’s energy currency.  It’s also why any form of MITOCHONDRIAL ILLNESS OR DYSFUNCTION will affect the body in a nearly infinite number of ways. 

UVA (Ultraviolet A) is made up of long waves, while UVB (Ultraviolet B) consists of short waves.    Most of the sunlight we are exposed to in the Ultraviolet spectrum is UVA, which is the light that can penetrate both clouds and glass, and is the light that mostly causes the skin to tan (it’s the light mostly found in tanning beds).  Strangely enough, it’s UVB that that causes the skin to burn (the medical word for sunburn is erythema) and is most involved in skin cancers (it’s also the UV that causes the body to create Vitamin D). 

According to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (What is the Difference Between UVA and UVB Rays?), “UVA rays penetrate more deeply into the skin and play a greater role in premature skin aging changes including wrinkle formation. There are approximately 500 times more UVA rays in sunlight than UVB rays.”  Be aware that UVA can also cause cancer.

UVC (Ultraviolet C) is the most dangerous of the three, but is of a wavelength that does not make it to earth, being filtered out in the atmosphere.  However, welders are exposed to UVC (welding burns, which are similar to sunburns), and UVC is what’s used to irradiate products (water, food, surfaces, etc) against microbes. 

While researching this post I quickly realized that every harmful sequalae associated with sunshine is not associated with exposure, but instead with overexposure.   25 years ago, the Annals of Physiology and Anthropology (Health Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation) stated…

Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from a natural source consists of only UVA and a part of UVB. Artificial UVR sources include UVC region and have serious effects on the human body, especially on the skin and eyes. The health effects of UVR on humans can be beneficial or detrimental, depending on the amount and form of UVR, as well as on the skin type of the individual exposed.” 

Again, the key here is the amount of exposure.  In other words, there’s a “Goldilocks Zone”.  Too much or too little is not good — exposure needs to be just right.

How much Vitamin D do we really need to be healthy?  Truthfully, it depends on who you ask.  In a paper titled The Real RDA for Vitamin D is 10 Times Higher Than Currently Recommended, the late Robert Heaney (MD) of Omaha’s Creighton University, “world-renowned researcher in the field of bone biology and vitamin D,” showed how the mathematical calculations that brought us to our current RDA of 400 to 600 IU is off by at least an order of magnitude — ten times.  For the record, it was not that long ago that the official RDA for D was a measly 200 IU a day.

“Heaney does a great job of reviewing the history of the Institution of Medicine’s conclusions. He explains Paul Veugelers’ paper and how Veugelers showed that the IOM made a mathematical error in determining the RDA. The RDA should be 7,000 IU/day to get 97.5% of the population above 20 ng/ml – the level set by the IOM as the target for adequacy. (GrassrootsHealth research panel recommends a level between 40 – 60 ng/ml to maintain good health, which would compute to approximately 12,000 IU/day.)”

As if this were not enough of a shocker, I was personally told by a SPECIALIST IN FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE (he is an MD, professor and researcher with multiple specialties and world-wide cred) that for certain chronic conditions, he might have patients take as much as 80,000 IU’s/day for awhile.   The key is to monitor Vitamin D status with blood work — simple and cheap.  What happens if you get too much Vitamin D? 

Too much Vitamin D can cause things like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and constipation —- all vague symptoms associated with numerous conditions.  Beyond that, you’ll see high blood levels of calcium and kidney stones, and even in extreme cases, kidney failure.  But……..

What does it take to overdo it when it comes to Vitamin D?  Mayo Clinic’s article, What is Vitamin D Toxicity, and Should I Worry About it Since I Take Supplements? says it this way.

Taking 60,000 international units (IU) a day of vitamin D for several months has been shown to cause toxicity. This level is many times higher than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for most adults of 600 IU of vitamin D a day. Doses higher than the RDA are sometimes used to treat medical problems such as vitamin D deficiency.” 

Healthline’s “EVIDENCE-BASED” nutrition column (How Much Vitamin D is Too Much? The Surprising Truth) puts it like this.

“Although vitamin D toxicity is a very rare condition, recent increases in supplement use may lead to an increase in reported cases.  A daily intake ranging from 40,000–100,000 IU, for one to several months, has been shown to cause toxicity in humans. This is 10-25 times the recommended upper limit, in repeated doses. Individuals with vitamin D toxicity usually have blood levels above 150 ng/ml (375 nmol/L).” 

Bottom line, OD is not only tough, its occurrence is almost deliberate, and the risk of deficiency is far greater than getting too much.  How much greater?  Listen to what the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics said back in a 2012 study titled Vitamin D: The ‘Sunshine’ Vitamin…..

“Vitamin D insufficiency affects almost 50% of the population worldwide. An estimated one billion people worldwide, across all ethnicities and age groups, have a vitamin D deficiency (VDD). This pandemic of vitamin D deficiency (hypovitaminosis D) can mainly be attributed to lifestyle (for example, reduced outdoor activities) and environmental (for example, air pollution) factors that reduce exposure to sunlight, which is required for ultraviolet-B (UVB)-induced vitamin D production in the skin.

High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency is a particularly important public health issue because hypovitaminosis D is an independent risk factor for total mortality in the general population. Current studies suggest that we may need more vitamin D than presently recommended to prevent chronic disease. As few foods contain vitamin D, guidelines recommended supplementation at suggested daily intake and tolerable upper limit levels. A meta-analysis published in 2007 showed that vitamin D supplementation was associated with significantly reduced mortality.”

Wow, what can I say?  Half (1/2) of the world population is deficient in Vitamin D — a vitamin that’s responsible for enough PHYSIOLOGY & HOMEOSTASIS that not having enough significantly and dramatically increases your chances of CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DEGENERATIVE DISEASES, AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES, and early death.  I also want you to catch the fact that food is not really a great source.  Why do I mention this?  Two-fold. 

Firstly, because “trusted” media outlets like WebMD have stated that you should be able to get your RDA from food.  Secondly, these authors reiterate what we’ve already seen; that the RDA should be significantly higher than it currently is.  And thirdly, if you want to get the proper amount of D, most of us have no choice but to supplement in some form or fashion.

It’s not a secret that the body makes Vitamin D from sunshine (UVR — ultraviolet radiation).  What is not as well known is that this process starts with CHOLESTEROL, which happens to be the precursor for large numbers of your body’s HORMONES.  My biochemistry book from my days at Kansas State University said this of the relationship.  “Cholesterol is the precursor of the five major classes of steroid hormones: progestagens, glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, androgens, and estrogens, as well as bile salts.”  From these five classes, come dozens of hormones, most of which the average person is not familiar with.

What’s interesting — especially for pale folk like me — is that the lighter your skin, the less exposure time it takes to create Vitamin D; some sources say as many as 25,000 IU per day.  If the conditions are right, in as little as five minutes.  There are all sorts of online charts that you can use to help calculate optimum exposure times (variables include the time of year, the part of the country you live in, time of day, skin color, etc, etc).  The real question that people want answered, however, is what are the effects of sun beyond Vitamin D?


Beneficial UV Radiation

“There is growing observational and experimental evidence that regular exposure to sunlight contributes to the prevention of colon-, breast-, prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple sclerosis, hypertension and diabetes. Initially, these beneficial effects were ascribed to vitamin D. Recently it became evident that immunomodulation, the formation of nitric oxide, melatonin, serotonin, and the effect of sunlight on circadian clocks, are involved as well.” From the December 1016 issue of Medical Hypotheses (Regular Sun Exposure Benefits Health)

“Most of the positive effects of solar radiation are mediated via ultraviolet-B (UVB) induced production of vitamin D in skin. However, several other pathways may exist for the action of ultraviolet (UV) radiation on humans as focused on in this review.

One is induction of cosmetic tanning. UVB-induced, delayed tanning (increases melanin in skin after several days), acts as a sunscreen. Several human skin diseases, like psoriasis, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis and localized scleroderma, can be treated with solar radiation (heliotherapy) or artificial UV radiation (phototherapy). UV exposure can suppress the clinical symptoms of multiple sclerosis independently of vitamin D synthesis. Furthermore, UV generates nitric oxide (NO), which may reduce blood pressure and generally improve cardiovascular health.

UVA-induced NO may also have antimicrobial effects and furthermore, act as a neurotransmitter. Finally, UV exposure may improve mood through the release of endorphins.”  From the abstract of a 2012 issue of Dermato-Endocrinology (Beneficial Effects of UV Radiation Other Than Via Vitamin D Production)

It’s no surprise that exposure to sunshine creates benefits by creating Vitamin D.  But what about the benefits of sunshine exposure that have nothing whatsoever to do with Vitamin D?  There are many, and after reading this section you’ll want to come visit us on the CURRENT RIVER more than ever!  Let me hit you with just a few. 

Remember how we’ve been warned time and time again to avoid the sun — especially when it comes to “sunbathing“?  Check out the astounding results of this study (Avoidance of Sun Exposure as a Risk Factor for Major Causes of Death…) published in the March 2016 issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine, the authors followed 30,000 Swedish women of all ages, from 1990-1992 to 2015. 

The authors determined that “Women with active sun exposure habits were mainly at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and noncancer/non‐CVD death as compared to those who avoided sun exposure.”  Although their rates of certain kinds of cancer were higher, it was chalked up to the fact that they were living longer. 

I want you to re-read these final two sentences until you grasp the magnitude of what’s being said.  “Avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking.  Guidelines being too restrictive regarding sun exposure may do more harm than good for health.”  Not only is sitting the new smoking, add sitting indoors and it gets that much worse.

In 2014, Science Daily carried a story (Sunshine May Slow Weight Gain, Diabetes Onset…) on a study that was published in the journal Diabetes.  They summarized the SCOTTISH research thusly….  “Exposure to moderate amounts of sunshine may slow the development of obesity and diabetes, a study in mice suggests. The researchers showed that shining UV light at overfed mice slowed their weight gain. The mice displayed fewer of the warning signs linked to diabetes, such as abnormal glucose levels and resistance to insulin.” 

Less INSULIN RESISTANCE?  Less OBESITY?  Just from exposure to UV light?  And what might have happened if they actually exposed them to real sunshine?  The lead author went on to say, “We know from epidemiology studies that sun-seekers live longer than those who spend their lives in the shade. Studies such as this one are helping us to understand how the sun can be good for us. We need to remember that skin cancer is not the only disease that can kill us and should perhaps balance our advice on sun exposure.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Crohn’s & Colitis (Increased Ultraviolet Light Exposure is Associated with Reduced Risk of Inpatient Surgery Among Patients with Crohn’s Disease) compared the average sunshine exposure of nearly half a million Crohn’s patients (an autoimmune disease affecting the bowel — HERE) to their incidence of surgery.  What did they find? 

Average UV exposure was statistically lower in the group undergoing surgery. The ratio of hospitalizations per UV exposure for CD was statistically different compared with all hospitalizations.  Increased UV exposure was associated with a lower risk of inpatient surgery. Accounting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, season, income, hospital setting, and comorbidities, the effect of UV exposure remained protective for inpatient surgery.  Increased UV exposure is associated with a reduced risk of inpatient surgery among patients with CD.” 

The European Menopause Journal (Risks and Benefits of UV Radiation in Older People: More of a Friend than a Foe?) concluded that, “Inadequate sun exposure carries its own risks, and the older population are particularly sun deprived as recorded by low serum Vitamin D levels and lack of outdoor activity. Sunlight has health benefits dependently and independently of vitamin D synthesis.”  We see something similar with CANCER (there are myriads of studies on this topic, including Dr. Michael Holick’s study in the journal Anticancer Research titled Biological Effects of Sunlight, Ultraviolet Radiation, Visible Light, Infrared Radiation and Vitamin D for Health).

Just like the way that for decades the medical community warned people to eschew dietary fat (HERE) and currently warns us to try and keep salt intake at zero (HERE), we see similar warnings about being out in the sun — especially as it relates to cancer.  But what does the research actually say?  It’s actually quite amazing. 

In 2016, the journal Dermato-Endocrinology published a study titled Solar Radiation and the Incidence and Mortality of Leading Invasive Cancers in the United States that opened with these words.  “Invasive cancer risk is inversely related to ultraviolet light exposure.”  In other words, more exposure to the sun means less risk of coming down with the the “Big C”.  Here are some CHERRY-PICKED sentences from this study.

“There have been many published studies and reviews linking increasing levels of ultraviolet B light or vitamin D levels to decreasing risk of cancers [the bibliography contains 15].  We obtained the North America Land Data Assimilation System daily average sunlight for the continental United States from 1999–2011. US Cancer Statistics age-adjusted-incidence and mortality was also obtained from the CDC. We found that cancer incidence for all invasive cancers and for 11 of 22 leading cancers significantly decreased with increased solar radiation.”

The only two kinds of cancer which were not inversely associated with sunshine were liver and cervical cancers.  However, a quick review of the literature shows that not only is none of this new, but liver cancer as well as liver inflammation both have studies showing that risk can be mitigated by exposure to sunlight. 

For instance, a 2017 study in Environmental Health (Ambient Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure and Hepatocellular Carcinoma Incidence in the United States) revealed that, “Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most commonly occurring type of primary liver cancer, has been increasing in incidence worldwide.  Higher levels of ambient UV exposure were associated with statistically significant lower HCC risk.”  The May 2015 issue of Nutrients (Can Skin Exposure to Sunlight Prevent Liver Inflammation?) showed something equally as cool. 

“Liver inflammation contributes towards the pathology of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Following exposure to sunlight-derived ultraviolet radiation (UVR), the skin releases anti-inflammatory mediators such as vitamin D and nitric oxide. 

There are a number of potentially interdependent mechanisms whereby vitamin D could dampen liver inflammation, by inhibiting hepatocyte apoptosis and liver fibrosis, modulating the gut microbiome and through altered production and transport of bile acids. While there has been a focus on vitamin D, other mediators induced by sun exposure, such as nitric oxide may also play important roles in curtailing liver inflammation.”

Still another study, this one from last March’s issue of Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences (Does Sunlight Protect us from Cancer?) made it clear that there is something cancer-protective about sunlight that goes beyond Vitamin D.   An Australian team of researchers concluded…

Evidence is building that sunlight may be protective against some internal malignancies. Because patients with these tumors are often vitamin D deficient, this has led some to propose that vitamin D supplementation will be beneficial in the treatment of these cancers. However, the results from already completed trials have been disappointing which has given weight to the argument that there must be something else about sunlight that explains its cancer-protecting properties.” 

The proof is growing that Vitamin D levels are reliant on more than simply taking a dietary supplement; we are starting to see that there could very well be a “crystalline” or similar bio-structural difference — kind of like we see with other vitamins; natural -vs- synthetic (HERE or HERE).

Last April, the journal Environmental Research (Association of UV Radiation with Parkinson Disease Incidence….) showed that of the nearly 70,000 PARKINSON’S patients looked at, “in this nationwide study, there was an age-dependent association between UV-B and Parkinson’s incidence. This study suggests that reasonable UV-B exposure is associated with lower PD risk…” 

A 2016 issue of Blood Purification (Sunlight Has Cardiovascular Benefits Independently of Vitamin D) showed something similar with heart disease and strokes. 

The most recent data from the World Health Organisation’s survey of the global burden of disease show that high blood pressure (BP) is the leading cause of premature death and disease worldwide.  Epidemiological data show a correlation between increased sun exposure and reduced population BP and cardiovascular mortality.  All-cause mortality should be the primary determinant of public health messages. Sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer, but sun avoidance may carry more of a cost than benefit for overall good health.

While this is great information, how do you make “light therapy” part of your overall health and recovery plan — especially if you don’t live in California or Southern states, or can’t afford to buy your own private Tahitian island to retire on quite yet?


Healthy Sunshine

Adequate and appropriate exposure to light is critical for health and well-being of patients as well as staff in healthcare settings. A combination of daylight and electric light can meet these needs. Natural light should be incorporated into lighting design in healthcare settings, not only because it is beneficial to patients and staff, but also because it is light delivered at no cost and in a form that most people prefer. From Impact of Light on Outcomes in Healthcare Settings by Dr. Anjali Joseph, from The Center for Health Design, 2006

What is the number one factor for developing skin cancer?  A ten year old issue of Solar Radiation and Human Health (Understanding Positive and Negative Effects of Solar UV-radiation: A Challenge and a Fascinating Perspective) stated… “Numerous investigations analyzing sun exposure parameters have consistently reported an association between the development of melanoma and short-term intense UV-exposure, particularly burning in childhood.  In contrast to short-term intense exposure, more chronic less intense exposure has not been found to be a risk factor for the development of melanoma and in fact has been found in several studies to be protective.

Spending time barefoot, walking, or swimming.  Not only do these things supply the general population with a great deal of antioxidant power to counter the oxidizing effects of the sun via something known as “grounding” (HERE), but they expose us to something else amazingly healthy as well — sunshine.  What might be the actual mechanism for the health benefits of sunshine beyond Vitamin D production? 

If you follow the work of neurosurgeon-turned health guru, Dr. Jack Kruse, or expert on light therapy, Dr. Ari Whitten, they both talk at length about not only how important exposure to real sunlight is, but that most of the benefits we receive from the sun do not actually come from Vitamin D.

The sun’s energy is known to increase the production of nitric oxide (NO) — a powerful vasodilator that increases blood flow and OXYGEN to every tissue, cell, and organ in your body.  This not only benefits the cardiovascular system, but it also serves as an important signaling molecule for the mitochondria — the powerhouse of the cell (see earlier link).  But there is more to the process than that.

For starters, beyond exposing yourself to real sunlight, it’s important to remember that artificial light — particularly certain kinds of artificial light — can have adverse effects on health.   For instance, in 1975 the oldest scientific publication in America (Scientific American) published an article called The Effects of Light on the Human Body that concluded…. “exposure to artificial light may have harmful effects.” 

Honestly, in the nearly half century since, there have been dozens, maybe hundreds of studies showing this to be true, and that furthermore, these effects are “adverse” for a variety of reasons, including fouling the body’s natural circadian rhythms. 

While quality sunglasses can protect your eyes from too much UV, what about a simple little trick I learned about two decades ago from TED CARRICK — rose colored glasses?  Why do eye glasses that filter out blue light work wonders for so many people?  For starters, blue light has been associated with a variety of chronic health conditions, including MIGRAINE HEADACHES and SYMPATHETIC DOMINANCE

It’s a large enough issue that even Harvard’s ‘Health Letter‘ dealt with it (Blue Light Has a Dark Side), saying that “Blue light can affect your sleep and potentially cause disease.”  I’ll probably do a post on this topic and combine it with a post on EMF (electro-magnetic frequency) pollution.

This brings me to an issue that I’ve asked many times.  We know how important sunshine is.  We also know that a significant portion of the world’s population lives in locales where sunshine is not readily available year round.  This begs the question, what sort of artificial light might best mimic the sun’s effects?  After asking people who have far more expertise than I do, the product most commonly mentioned was the Sperti Vitamin D Light Box (I have no relationship to this company).  Bear in mind that there are plenty of others.  Again, do your own research. 

The truth is, light therapy has been around for millennia.  Last March’s issue of Photochemistry & Photobiological Sciences (A Short history of Phototherapy, Vitamin D and Skin Disease) discussed, among other things, “a 1932 review by the American Medical Association on the use of UV therapy in dermatology listed 34 skin conditions for which UV radiation may be useful.”  And that’s just external (SKIN) disease.  Although we discussed the effects of UV radiation on NO (nitric oxide) production earlier, allow me to show you a few studies on the relationship that have the potential to affect you internally — affect your organs and organ systems.

“A few years ago it was demonstrated that nitric oxide (NO) is induced in skin by UVA. NO is able to diffuse rapidly across cell membranes… This helps explain the multiple roles it plays, including vasodilatation, immune defense, neurotransmission, regulation of cell death (apoptosis) and cell motility.  The rapid release of NO following UVA exposure suggests the existence of latent stores.  It is possible that UVA-induced NO may protect skin against solar radiation induced damages within 20–30 min, depending on UVA dose.

NO-containing gas is effective in tissue disinfection and regulating inflammatory processes associated with acute and chronic wounds. It has been proposed that UVA-induced NO may also have antimicrobial effects, be involved in cutaneous wound healing as well as have anti-tumor activity.”  The extremely cherry-picked conclusions of the Norwegian authors of a 2012 study (Beneficial Effects of UV Radiation Other than Via Vitamin D Production) from Dermato-Endocrinology

“UVR has deleterious and beneficial effects on human health. In this issue, Liu et al. (2014) show that UVA decreases blood pressure and increases blood flow and heart rate in humans, which is beneficial to the cardiovascular system. This is likely mediated by UVA causing release of nitric oxide (NO) from skin stores. This mediator may have additional effects on human health.” From a 2014 issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (An Unexpected Role: UVA-Induced Release of Nitric Oxide from Skin May Have Unexpected Health Benefits)

“Although there is strong evidence to support that improvement in vitamin D status in early life may decreased risk for many autoimmune diseases, there are likely additional benefits from exposure to ultraviolet radiation.  It is also known that the skin has the ability to produce nitric oxide (NO) a known vasodilator. 

Similar to cardiovascular disease it has been reported that there is an inverse association with increased risk for developing multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes and latitude. A person living at the equator has a 10-15 fold lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes. A person born and living at a latitude below 35° North had a 50% lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis later in life.

It has also been reported that women who had the highest intake of vitamin D, had a reduced risk of developing multiple sclerosis by 41% and rheumatoid arthritis by 44%.”   From one of the world’s foremost experts on sunlight and health; Dr. Michael Hollick (MD / Ph.D) of Boston University Medical Center.  His study was called Biological Effects of Sunlight, Ultraviolet Radiation, Visible Light, Infrared Radiation and Vitamin D for Health and was published in a 2016 issue of Anticancer Research

And while everyone and his brother are hollering about the adverse effects of tanning beds, in similar fashion to sunshine itself (both of which we have been warned to avoid like the plague), artificial sunlight might carry more benefits than harms if used wisely. 

Case in point, a 2012 study from a team of four researchers in the Department of Radiation Biology, Institute for Cancer Research at the Norwegian Radium Hospital (Vitamin D, Sun, Sunbeds and Health) looked at studies on the subject (the bib contained 60 citations) that were published over a thirty year span between 1981 and 2011.  Their conclusions are not quite what one would expect by a generation taught to fear the sun.

“Studies were included if they reported relative risk for melanoma associated with sunbed use, vitamin D and UV effects on human health.  The overall health benefit of an improved vitamin D status may be more important than the possibly increased melanoma risk resulting from carefully increasing UV exposure. Important scientific facts behind this judgement are given.”

I’ve never been in a tanning bed and am not advocating you use them, but this is interesting.  I have a patient — a professional — whose life was destroyed after being maimed in a CAR CRASH (head on impact with a drunk traveling near 100 mph).  The only two things that help her are our TISSUE REMODELING to help break up the SCAR TISSUE AND FIBROTIC ADHESIONS and her tanning bed.  

Again, there are probably better ways to get UV exposure in the winter than a tanning bed, but it’s yet another example that seemingly everything you’ve been taught by the medical profession and media has been turned on it’s head — continued evidences of “best evidence” not being followed (HERE are many others).

Although I am not going to get into sunscreens here (look for that in a future post), it’s important to realize that UVA radiation damages skin over time, causing said damage via OXIDATIVE STRESS.   A very cool study from a 2016 issue of the International Journal of Food Science & Technology (Harnessing Food‐Based Bioactive Compounds to Reduce the Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation: A Review Exploring the Link Between Food and Human Health) essentially suggested that on some level, food can be your sunscreen. 

“Appropriate exposure to sun is beneficial to humans and living organisms. However, excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can lead to photoageing, severe health risks and even death. Nowadays, the health risks of excess UV exposure have greatly increased due to the significant changes of global climate and human lifestyle as well as the thinning of the stratospheric ozone (a natural and effective filter for solar UV radiation). Therefore, protecting against UV radiation‐induced damage is a serious challenge.

Research needs to address the understanding of the mechanisms underlying the UV‐induced damages and also explore the potential use of natural substances to combat the harm caused by UV radiation. Plant‐based substances have been found to exert significant protective effects against UV radiation. This review explores the most recent hypothesis of natural bioactive compounds (such as flavones, peptides, polysaccharides and terpenoids) as potential protective agents against UV radiation.”

Bottom line, if undertaken with some wisdom and common sense, time with EARTH, WIND & FIRE (grounding, fresh air, and sunlight) can be a cornerstone of both health and recovery.  In fact, it’s been a part of my “UNIVERSAL CURE” post from day one.  If you like our site and feel others need to be spending some time here, be sure and show us some love on FACEBOOK.  Liking, sharing, or following is a great way to reach the people you love and care about most!  Enjoy your day; I’m off to THE RIVER with my wife for a day of improving my health!


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