The Power of the Sun: Healing Benefits of Sunlight

There are many healing benefits of sunlight. But the sun has been blamed for many different health issues over the years rather than being the solution to many of those issues. As more and more people use sunscreen, skin cancer rates continue to rise. So is the sun our enemy or our friend?

Woman standing on the beach in the sun

Healing Benefits of Sunlight

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The Power of the Sun

Our bodies are designed to absorb light. When we absorb light from the sun different reactions occur within the body. These reactions help our bodies to heal and function properly.

There are so many healing benefits of sunlight. The sun is one of the most powerful healing modalities that we have available to us and it’s completely free!

If you understand basic biology then you understand that the sun is the ultimate source of all life on earth. Every single plant and animal on this earth needs sunlight. Why would human beings be any different?

Have you ever planted seeds indoors? If so, then you know how important it is to make sure the seedlings are exposed to light as soon as they emerge from the dirt.

Without light, they will grow really tall and leggy because they are quite literally reaching for the sun. They need the sun to survive.

If you want a plant to die all you have to do is deprive it of sunlight.

Everything on earth is dependent on the sun and the life-giving, healing benefits of sunlight. We are solar-powered creatures.

But before we talk about the amazing health benefits of the sun I want to first address the elephant in the room which is the belief that the sun is dangerous.

Is Sunshine Dangerous?

Some believe the sun is dangerous and you should always apply sunscreen and wear sunglasses whenever you are exposed to its “harmful” rays.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. In the past 10 years (2012 – 2022), the number of new invasive melanoma cases diagnosed annually increased by 31%. 1

Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer, increased by 95% from 2000 to 2013. 2

So which is it? Is the sun our friend or is it our foe?

Our ancestors spent all day outside – hunting, growing food, caring for livestock – without sunscreen or sunglasses.

Now, people spend way less time outdoors, they wear sunglasses, they apply sunscreen and more people are developing skin cancer than ever before.

Many experts suggest this is because the ozone layer is thinning which allows too much germicidal UV to penetrate the earth. And that is why more people have cancer now than before the invention of sunscreen.

But you may be surprised to learn there is no real evidence for this.

And actually, people groups who live in high altitudes or close to the equator where UV radiation is most concentrated very rarely get cancer.

I highly recommend the book Heal Yourself with Sunlight by Andreas Moritz if you want to learn more about UV radiation and cancer.

What Causes Skin Cancer?

The sun is blamed for skin cancer but what if it’s not the UV rays from the sun that are toxic but rather our own bodies that are toxic because of the things we put in it and on it.

Many people’s diets consist of highly toxic processed foods and foods high in PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids). Unlike our ancestors, our bodies are full of toxic substances.

Foods high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) like nut butters, nut milks, seeds, and vegetable oils can be really bad for the body when consumed often.

And many people are consuming these types of foods in very large quantities.

PUFAs are highly unstable and begin to oxidize when they are exposed to light, heat, and oxygen. So as you can imagine this is not good for the human body which is very warm and requires oxygen. 3

PUFAs also decrease vitamin E levels in the body. Vitamin E is so important. Its main role is to act as an antioxidant and decrease free radicals in the body that can damage cells.

PUFAs can increase your need for vitamin E by six times. So if you consume a diet high in PUFAs, I highly recommend trying to reduce your intake and also supplementing with vitamin E. 4

This is the vitamin E I use daily and recommend.

Not only do many people consume foods that are high in PUFAs but many also use skin care products made with PUFAs.

So knowing how bad it is for a body that is filled with PUFAs to be exposed to the sun, can you imagine the damage that can be caused when your skin is covered in PUFAs as well?

It’s an absolute recipe for disaster.

You want to steer clear of skincare products made of polyunsaturated fats. Instead choose products made with monounsaturated fats or even better – saturated fats like coconut oil, beef tallow, or cocoa butter.

You can read this post – What Are PUFAs & Why You Should Avoid Them – to learn more about PUFAs.

Potential Dangers of Sunscreen

A high-profile dermatologist named Dr. Bernard Ackerman denied that sun exposure causes melanoma and he also believed that sunscreen does not prevent melanoma. 5

Sunscreen use was popularized in the 1960s. But despite the widespread use of sunscreen over the past 60 years, skin cancer rates have increased greatly.

So what’s going on here?

Some experts believe that this is because people forget to reapply sunscreen when they are in the sun for prolonged periods of time or they don’t apply the sunscreen to every inch of their body that is exposed to the sun.

That might be an acceptable theory if it wasn’t for the fact that most melanoma occurs in areas of the body that are not hidden or easily missed.

Also, most melanoma cases are among people who spend most of their time indoors under artificial lighting.

Drs. Cedric and Frank Garland were strongly against the use of chemical sunscreens. They believed that although sunscreen may prevent sunburns, there is no actual evidence that they prevent skin cancer. 6

They actually believed that chemical sunscreen was the primary cause of the skin cancer epidemic.

Sunblock blocks UV rays and sunscreens are designed to absorb UV rays. Both are typically filled with highly toxic ingredients.

But sunscreen that is designed to absorb UV rays can be especially dangerous because some sunscreen ingredients can generate free radicals and reactive oxygen species.

This can indirectly cause DNA damage in your cells. This study suggests that sunscreen that is designed to absorb UV rays can increase the number of free radicals and oxidative stress on and in the body.

Most chemical sunscreens contain benzophenone which is a dangerous free radical generator. The EWG has a great article highlighting the dangers of sunscreen ingredients.

And remember if you are consuming a diet high in PUFAs, you are depleting vitamin E which is your body’s natural defense against free radicals.

God has given us a natural sunscreen called melanin. When your skin is exposed to sunlight melanin production increases. Melanin is your body’s natural defense from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

When you apply sunscreen, you’re creating an unnatural condition that your body does not recognize. And you are basically interfering with your body’s natural mechanism to cope with sun exposure.

So whether or not you decide to use sunscreen is ultimately up to you.

I am personally very concerned with the carcinogenic ingredients in most store-bought sunscreens and also with the fact that it blocks healing UV rays that our bodies need.

I no longer use sunscreen and I’ll be sharing different things I do to avoid sunburns and how you can safely get the sunshine your body needs further down in this post.

The Problem with Sunglasses

Something else I find absolutely fascinating is the potential harm sunglasses may also be causing. The sun is actually really important for our eye health.

When our eyes are exposed to sunlight it helps our body manufacture vitamin D. Which is actually not a vitamin but a hormone. Therefore I’ll be referencing it as such throughout this post.

Please do not stare directly at the sun.

Spending time outside in the early morning or evening when the sun is still out without sunglasses on can be extremely beneficial. You should try to expose your eyes to at least one hour of indirect sunlight every day.

There is also a theory that when your eyes are exposed to the sun, like your skin, it also sends a signal to your body to create melanin which prevents you from getting burnt.

I couldn’t find any studies confirming this so please take this with a grain of salt. I just find the theory very fascinating.

The takeaway from all of this is the sun is not your enemy, man-made toxic products are your enemy.

Heliotherapy 

Prior to the 1930s, before the discovery of antibiotics, sunshine was the preferred method of healing in the medical community throughout Europe.

Treating the sick with sunlight is called heliotherapy. Throughout the late nineteenth century and mid-twentieth-century heliotherapy was successful in treating many infectious diseases.

Dr. Niels Finsen was awarded a noble prize in 1903 “in recognition of his contribution to the treatment of diseases, especially lupus vulgaris, with concentrated light radiation”. 7

Dr. Rollier followed in the footsteps of Dr. Finsen and was successful in treating diseases like tuberculosis, smallpox, and lupus with UV light.

You can read more about his work here.

During the 1950s the pharmaceutical industry was beginning to grow and when Dr. Rollier died in 1954, sadly heliotherapy in many ways died with him.

But even still today the many healing benefits of sunlight are still being utilized in many medical treatments. For example, newborns who develop jaundice are often treated with filtered sunlight or phototherapy lamps. 8

Health Benefits of Sunlight

One of the reasons for the many health benefits of sunshine is that exposure of the skin to solar ultraviolet B radiation is a major source of hormone D. It is actually the best source of hormone D.

And hormone D is vital for a healthy body and a happy life.

I personally do not supplement with hormone D. You can watch this video to discover why.

The sun is the greatest and best source of hormone D. But with that being said, hormone D can’t be metabolized without sufficient magnesium levels.

So if you’re deficient in magnesium, which most people are, that means hormone D remains stored and inactive.

So although I do not recommend supplementing hormone D in any form, I absolutely recommend supplementing magnesium in the form of magnesium bicarbonate, magnesium bisglycinate, or magnesium threonate.

I actually make my own magnesium bicarbonate. I’ll be sharing how to do that soon.

If your magnesium levels are not optimal you will not experience all the amazing healing benefits of sunlight that are listed below.

Improves Sleep

Bright light can help to stimulate melatonin and serotonin in the pineal gland. Melatonin is the hormone that makes you sleepy. Melatonin can help regulate the circadian system and sleep patterns.

Your circadian system/rhythm is your body’s internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. It’s basically your body’s way of telling you when to wake up and have energy and when to fall asleep and be tired.

If your circadian rhythm is functioning properly then you should start getting tired in the evening when it is dark and you should start feeling awake and energized in the morning when it’s light out.

If you are exposed to a lot of indoor artificial light, especially artificial blue light that emits from your phone, computer, and tv and you’re not getting very much natural sunlight throughout the day, this can wreak havoc on your circadian rhythm.

One of the best ways to reset your circadian rhythm is to expose your skin and eyes to sunshine in the early morning. If you can watch the sunrise that is even better.

And avoid artificial light in the evening as much as possible and watch the sunset whenever you can.

As I mentioned earlier, exposure of the skin to solar ultraviolet B radiation is a major source of hormone D. Hormone D has both a direct and an indirect role in the regulation of sleep as well. It is involved in the pathways of the production of melatonin.

Improves Skin Conditions

According to the World Health Organization, sun exposure can help treat skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. 9

Improves Mood

The sunlight reacts with areas of the retina that triggers the release of serotonin. Low serotonin levels are very common in people with depression.

Making sure you get adequate sunshine daily can keep your serotonin levels normal and help boost your mood.

Increases Energy

Sunlight is the source of all energy on this planet. Because sunlight can trigger the release of serotonin, it can also help to increase your energy levels.

Low energy or fatigue is a common symptom of hormone D deficiency. Therefore, increasing your hormone D levels can help improve your energy levels as well.

Boosts Immune System Function

Optimal hormone D levels are vital for a well-functioning immune system. Hormone D has anti-inflammatory effects and boosts the production of immune cells.

Supports Liver Function

Hormone D deficiency is common in chronic liver diseases. Production of hormone D appears to help prevent a number of cancers and other liver problems.

Ultraviolet light can increase glycogen stores in the liver as well. Low levels of stored glucose (glycogen) can cause a sluggish liver. The liver is your main detox organ and it requires glycogen.

There are actually many more benefits of sun exposure such as supporting bone health, lowering blood pressure, and so much more.

Once again I highly recommend the book Heal Yourself with Sunlight by Andreas Moritz to learn more about all the different healing benefits of sunlight

Mindful Sun Exposure Tips

So with all of this being said please know I am not advocating for all-day sun exposure, especially during the hottest part of the day.

The sun is an amazing healing modality but it is also extremely powerful. Just like with all things, even good things, it’s all about moderation.

What I am advocating for is a minimum of 30 minutes of sunshine in the early morning or 30 minutes in the evening when the sun is starting to go down or preferably both of those.

If you can do more than that then by all means go for it. But please listen to your body. When you start to feel overheated and uncomfortable remember that is your body’s way of telling you it’s had enough.

But also remember a healthy body is going to react differently to sun exposure than an unhealthy body.

As I mentioned earlier, sun exposure can actually cause harm to an unhealthy/toxic body.

You don’t want to burn your skin and toxic bodies tend to burn more easily.

If you have a difficult time tolerating the sun or you burn easily you are going to need to heal your body from the inside out before you can experience the maximum healing benefits of the sun.

Some ways you can do that are by reducing your PUFA consumption, supplementing with magnesium, supplementing with vitamin E, avoiding skincare products made with PUFAs, and consuming a diet mostly consisting of whole foods that contain bioavailable nutrients and minerals.

I also highly recommend the D Minder app. This app will tell you the best time of day to get sun exposure based on your location.

If you live in a very hot climate where the UV rays can be very intense, it’s best to avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day which is usually between 11:00-3:00 pm.

If you have to be outside during that time be sure to wear a hat and long sleeves or sit in the shade. But please try not to force your body to remain outside when it is obviously uncomfortable.

Always listen to your body! It knows what it is doing.

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid pigment that occurs in trout, microalgae, shrimp, and other sea creatures. It is a powerful antioxidant. Some say it acts as a natural sunscreen when consumed internally.

I personally have never tried it but this study suggests it can in fact protect against UV rays.

It’s also important to keep your skin well moisturized before and after sun exposure. While applying coconut oil, shea butter, or cocoa butter to your skin will not prevent sunburn, they can help to nourish and support your skin.

You can read this post – How to Protect Your Skin From The Sun Without Sunscreen – for more mindful sun exposure tips.

Following Your Instincts

I know for some people this information might be difficult to wrap their mind around. You may want to believe that the so-called experts know what’s best but remember they do get things wrong from time to time.

In the 1940s and 1950s, thousands of surgeons were used in cigarette advertisements assuring the public cigarettes were safe. 10

In the 1960s and 1970s, many doctors recommended diets high in polyunsaturated fatty acids because they claimed it reduced heart disease. But studies later showed that a diet high in PUFAs actually increases total death rates and cancer rates.

So I’m not saying all doctors and scientists are bad or always wrong. But what I am saying is they are not infallible and they do make mistakes.

You are ultimately responsible for your own health – no one else. And you have to decide what is best for you.

The good news is God has given you the ability to critically think and instincts that help you to know what’s best. The bad news is for a lot of us those instincts have been buried underneath the views and opinions of experts that think they know what’s best for us more than we do.

Plants and animals are intuitively drawn to the sun. When the weather outside is sunny, you can’t deny that most people would rather be outside than sit inside under artificial lighting.

Just like plants and animals we are naturally drawn to the sun. It’s only because we have been told it’s bad for us that we try to avoid it.

I know this was a lot of information to take in but I encourage you to really think about these things especially if you are someone who goes out of the way to avoid the sun.

The information I’ve presented here is just a tiny fraction of the information that is available on the healing benefits of sunlight. If you’re not fully convinced that the sun is our friend, not our enemy, I highly recommend reading and looking into the work of Andreas Moritz and Dr. Bernard Ackerman.

And although I don’t 100% agree with everything these men have written and said regarding the healing benefits of sunlight, I do find the work they have done to be very intriguing and eye-opening.

And if you are a Christian I highly recommend reading the series from Vaughn Lawrence about the healing benefits of sunlight. You can check out all three parts below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

God designed our bodies to function a certain way and when we stray from his design it can have negative impacts on our health. If you want to heal your body then you need to align your eating and lifestyle habits with God’s natural design.

Sources:

  1. Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics
  2. Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics
  3. Dietary oxidized n-3 PUFA induce oxidative stress and inflammation: role of intestinal absorption of 4-HHE and reactivity in intestinal cells
  4. Vitamin E function and requirements in relation to PUFA
  5. New York Times
  6. New York Times
  7. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1903
  8. Mayoclinic
  9. World Health Organization
  10. When Cigarette Companies Used Doctors to Push Smoking

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