Heliotherapy – Wellness

Introduction – Heliotherapy

Heliotherapy means use of sun rays (Helio means sun) to treat various ailments of the body. Various methods have been developed to use the sunlight by different inventors. Exposure of body to the sun causes incidence of electromagnetic waves coming from sun on normal or affected body parts. This leads to numerous benefits.

Sunlight

Sun light is an Electro Magnetic radiation. It contains energy of many different wavelengths emitted by the Sun. Such energy provides earth with the heat and light needed for life as well as delivers some harmfulultraviolet rays.

In addition to UV light, visible light & Infrared light, the sunlight is also composed of a combination of other rays such as cosmic rays, gamma rays, x-rays, radio-frequencies and radiation; but these are present in very small quantities as well as have too low energy to affect the skin.

Physiological effects of sunlight:

  1. Sunlight is the only reliable source of Vitamin D. Exposure to natural sunlight for 15 minutes per day on the hands and face is sufficient to obtain the recommended daily allowances (RDA) of Vitamin D.
  2. Exposure to sunlight increases the ability of body to metabolize cholesterol. This can lead todecrease in blood cholesterol level.
  3. Exposure to sunlight is postulated to have similar effects to those of exercise. These effects are reduction in blood pressure, lowering of resting heart rate and increase in the cardiac output.
  4. Sunlight decreases the symptoms of sadness, insomnia and carbohydrates cravings collectively known as seasonal affective disorders.
  5. Heliotherapy is also effective in skin lesions such as psoriasis and also in arthritis. UV light therapy can cure many patients of psoriasiswithin 2 to 3 months.
  6. Exposure of sunlight may play an important role in the prevention of certain cancers of breast, ovaries and colon. Vitamin D produced by exposure of Sunlight helps in reducing the occurrence of fatal breast cancer.
  7. Exposure to the sunlight increases several components of blood.
  8. Direct exposure to sun light for 15 minutes stimulates lymphocytosis.The UV rays produce a special Cutaneous Reflex to produce this effect. Lymphocytes in turn increase the immunity to bacterial infection.
  9. Exposure to controlled UV light for about 10 minutes, at least once in a week is postulated to reduce the frequency of colds.

Techniques of Heliotherapy:

There are various ways in which sunlight can be utilised for healing and well-being of body. Some techniques are discussed as follows:

Sun Bath:

Features:

  • Sunbath can be taken by people of all ages and both genders.
  • Having sun bath in early morning and evening is considered beneficial.
  • Bright sunlight is not advisable during sun bath.
  • For maintaining normal body functions, 10 to 15 minutes of daily exposure to sunlight is recommended.
  • Drink copious amount of water before and during the sunbath.

Types of Sun Bath:

Direct Sun Bath

  • This type of Sunbath is taken directly at the seashore and on the banks of Rivers.
  • This bath should be taken after 1 to 2 hours of sun rise. Clothing should be minimal.
  • This bath is taken by lying down on the sand of seashore or on a bed sheet.
  • Sufficient amount of water should be taken before the bath.

Indirect Sun Bath

In this type, the whole body should be covered with thin white cotton sheet or clothes except the head and eye which should be covered by a wet pack.

Localised Sun Bath

Various methods have been developed to use the sunlight by different inventors.
In this method, affected areas of the body are exposed to the sun. Other parts of the body are covered by a wet sheet. It is effective in treatment of respiratory diseases and all joint diseases.

Leaf Sun Bath

This is same as General Sun Bath, but the body is covered with some large leaves like banana leaves and then exposed to sunlight.

Photodynamic therapy

This treatment consists of injecting a photo-sensitive liquid into the body. This liquid gets absorbed in unhealthy cells of the body. When the body is exposed to strong light from outside, the liquid turns into more solid composition and thus, kills the unhealthy cells. One of such treatment is using blue light with aminolevulenicacid for the treatment of actinic keratosis. But the benefits and risks of this treatment is yet to be confirmed.

Light boxes

The production of the hormone melatonin is inhibited by light and increased by darkness. These signals are sent to the brain by photosensitive ganglion cells present in the retina. Melatonin is a sleep regulating disorder. The reverse is true for serotonin, which is important in mood disorders. The level and timings of secretions of these hormones can be modified by using a light box. This box provides very specific types of artificial illumination and darkness to the retina of the eye. This therapy can be utilised for sleep-related and mood disorders.

- Links of interest: Twitter Wellness

This article is not medical advice nor a substitute to professional health advice. Always consult a doctor.


 

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