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The flow of light into our bodies has always been known to rejuvenate and heal. Whether it’s a well-lit room or exposure to morning sunlight, there is something very positive and energizing about light. Probably that’s why heliotherapy was developed. Heliotherapy or light therapy (also known as phototherapy) is a treatment that uses exposure to sunlight or artificial wavelengths of light to cure numerous diseases and disorders. It mainly focusses on using the healing properties of natural light from the sun.
This miraculous therapy helps treat skin diseases such as psoriasis, acne vulgaris, eczema and vitiligo. It also effectively cures tuberculosis, non-seasonal depression and neonatal jaundice, apart from helping patients with Parkinson’s disease. Heliotherapy derives its name from Helios, the Greek god of the sun. Its development and use trace back to 1500 BCE, when a combination of sunlight and herbs was used to cure diseases. The ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks used sunlight to heal most illnesses. But what revolutionized this powerful natural therapy was the creation of artificial light sources that mimic the properties of the sun.
The first ever such source was devised by Niels Ryberg Finsen, a Faeroese physician who invented an ultraviolet lamp (the Finsen lamp) that was fitting for all seasons and could treat a number of diseases. Dr. Vishnu Vignesvaran, Medical Director, De’Naturals Hospital and Research Center, Chennai says, “The human body is designed in a manner that it synthesizes Vitamin D from the different colored lights of the sun. Each of these lights has its own wavelength, frequency and benefits.The sun is made up of a spectrum of lights, such as ultraviolet A and B and infrared.
Nowadays, a variety of artificial lights are combined for treatment.”
There are two types of heliotherapy – direct sun-bath and indirect sun-bath. In the direct sun-bath treatment, lubricants such as gentle oils and petroleum jelly are applied on the patient’s body before sun exposure. Indirect sun-bath is conducted in a room in which experts take a colored glass (blue, red or yellow), depending on the treatment, and let it reflect different lights. These lights are absorbed by the body, which then heal and cure.
These treatments help cure insomnia (because the lights can induce sleep), help in DNA repair and boost immunity. The duration of the therapies depend on the condition and nature of the disease or disorder. The treatments can be taken for anywhere between seven to 50 days, but shouldn’t be done for more than 40 minutes a day. handle with care.
As miraculous as heliotherapy is, it come with its own share of cons. Excessive exposure to these lights can cause genetic damage, collagen damage and the deterioration of vitamins A and C in the skin. It can also boost the generation of free radicals that can lead to premature aging and the unabated appearance of fine lines. Dr. Kapoor says, “If these light sources are used for heliotherapy under medical supervision, they are safe. If not, they can lead to skin cancer. If the treatments are overdone, they can lead to skin reddening, peeling, tanning and pigmentation.”
This therapy is mood altering too. So, if conducted incorrectly, it can heighten anxiety levels in patients, or cause a manic state. Even though these side effects are controllable, it is important to go to seasoned therapists or skin specialists because your body is precious. Nothing beats the goodness of nature. Prescription or not, get your daily dose of heliotherapy by soaking in some early morning sunlight. It invigorates the senses and harmonizes the body, mind and soul. Go au-natural and your body will thank you!
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