(PRWEB) January 31, 2006
Stop reaching for that bottle of pain relievers or anti-inflammatories whenever you have those aches and pain. Instead, Dr. Joseph Mercola, founder of the world’s most popular natural health website Mercola.com, recommends a simpler and safer prescription. He urges people to spend an hour in the sunshine daily.
And, because that isn’t always practical, he also recommends that everyone install full spectrum lights in their home and work environment. (Full spectrum lighting duplicates the full color spectrum of natural light, as well as ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths.)
According to Dr. Mercola, sunlight is an overlooked yet effective remedy for reducing pain and inflammation. Findings of one recent study published in the medical journal Psychosomatic Medicine demonstrated that post-operative spinal surgery patients who were exposed to increased amounts of sunlight experienced significantly less pain and stress — and needed less analgesic medication.
Some current researchers also theorize that ultraviolet (UV) exposure leads to the release of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are linked to pain relief and feelings of euphoria.
Of course, sunlight has been used therapeutically for thousands of years, long before the discovery of indoor full spectrum lighting. Healing with sunlight was popular in Greek and Roman times; there was even a special name for it: heliotherapy. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, long before the development of antibiotics, tuberculosis was successfully treated by putting people in TB solariums and exposing them to simple sunlight.
Unfortunately, according to Dr. Mercola, today’s population is virtually “starving for sunlight.” Conventional medical thinking has most people afraid to go out in the sun anymore. Contrary to popular belief, Dr. Mercola encourages common-sense exposure to outdoor sunlight, exposure that avoids burning.
Even those who do get out in the sun are unlikely to be receiving adequate exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, due to seasonal decreases in light, latitude, air pollution and smog, the use of sunscreens, and the prevalence of indoor work. For these reasons, Dr. Mercola encourages the use of full spectrum lighting — to make up for those “lost” outdoor rays.
Scientists have already confirmed that bright light triggers the release of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin, termed the “feel-good” chemical. In fact, one 2002 study reported in the prestigious medical journal Lancet demonstrated that serotonin production was directly related to the duration of bright sunlight. The study’s authors cited their findings as further evidence that the release of serotonin by the brain underlies seasonal affective disorder or SAD, a form of depression common in the winter. Treatment of these mood disorders with full spectrum light and light therapy has been proven highly effective, often achieving results equivalent to the use of anti-depressant drugs.
Not only do sunlight and its closest counterpart, full spectrum light, decrease pain and enhance mood, but they also decrease inflammation. The reason? Vitamin D, produced in the body with exposure to ultraviolet light, is a natural anti-inflammatory. This has been demonstrated by numerous scientific studies, which indicate that vitamin D lowers inflammation in conditions as diverse as heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
By the same token, critically ill patients have been shown to be markedly deficient in vitamin D, and have higher levels of C-Reactive Protein (CRP), a measure of inflammation in the body. Since our widespread sunlight deficiency corresponds to low vitamin D levels, Dr. Mercola cites this as another reason to supplement natural sunshine with full spectrum lights.
Sunlight and full spectrum lighting can be a great boon to anyone, but especially those who would otherwise be relying solely on expensive prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers, which are often loaded with potentially dangerous side effects.