Sunbathing is Good For You
Cosmic Healing, Sunlight by Ken Rosen, M.S. L.Ac
For those of us who do not live in regions blessed by year round sunshine, sunbathing is considered a luxury, a rare comfort and maybe even a sin! We spend a lot of time and money on spa holidays in the sun, to get that glorious tan, but do we even realise the therapeutic benefits?
Heliotherapy or just plain sunbathing is more than a luxury but an essential means of cultivating mind and body wellness. The sun is the source behind all life's processes on the planet. How could our collective and individual wellbeing not be tied to the light given off the sun?
We constantly hear about the ageing effects of the sun and the fear of skin cancer. We lather ourselves up with chemical sunscreens to avoid sun damage but still feel the need to soak up light energy.
Big news happened in 2002 when scientists in Boston showed that small amounts of sunshine can greatly reduce the risk of breast, colon and prostate cancers. Now it is confirmed that sunlight, mostly feared for its risk of skin cancer, could in moderate amounts prevent many serious cancers.
Vitamin D the benefits
The light travelling from the sun affects the bio chemistry of the skin, namely in the synthesis of Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium metabolism in your body which relates to your bones, the densest, innermost part of yourself. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin so it can be stored for use during sun deficient periods. Vitamin D also plays an important role in checking infectious diseases and immune related disorders such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. While Vitamin D is present in small amounts is some foods, casual sun exposure for a short amount of time will easily meet Vitamin D needs. Vitamin D sourced only from food or supplement sources can turn toxic in the body. Sun derived vitamin D does not become toxic because of our body’s self regulatory mechanism.
Other Sunlight Benefits
We may not be able to name everything that sunlight does for our wellness. Among others, it has been found that people that practise sunbathing have dramatically lowered blood pressure, regulated blood sugar, lowered cholesterol, and increased white blood cell count. Specifically, heliotherapy has been clinically shown to be useful in treating TB, psoriasis and healing wounds, acne, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
The warm, nourishing feeling that we get from sunbathing may never be fully embraced by the medical establishment. Yet, we still like to take time out in the sun while on holiday or ducking outdoors at lunch to soak up some healing light therapy. So, enjoy the healing power of the sun, but also have a healthy respect for its strength.
Practical Sun Therapy on your Spa Holiday
• Always have respect for the power of the sun. Don’t try to jam all your sunbathing on into a short amount of time. Frequent short exposures are better than prolonged exposure. Start with only a few minutes, and then gradually build your tolerance.
• Expose your hands and feet first before exposing more sensitive parts of your body.
• The most beneficial time of the year to expose yourself to the sun is in spring and early summer. Early morning the sun is also at its most beneficial and harmless.
• Do not use soap for at least 20-30 minutes after sun exposure. It takes your body time to take in the light and synthesize Vitamin D.
• Stay alert so that you do not burn yourself.
Ken Rosen M.S. L.Ac.
Practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Specialties in Thai Medical Massage and Holistic Nutrition www.spatcm.com
Ken Rosen has been studying medicine since he was diagnosed with cancer over 20 years ago. After receiving a film degree from New York University, he attended Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and graduated with a master’s in the Science of Traditional Oriental Medicine.
Outside his private practice as a licensed acupuncturist and board-certified herbologist, Ken also taught classes in nutrition, diagnosis and Thai Medical Massage in New York. He moved to Thailand in 2006 to join Chiva-Som as a resident therapist. Ken has been published internationally, with numerous articles on Chinese medicine, cancer treatment and nutrition, and has presented at prominent conferences in the US and Asia.