Herbert M. Shelton’s "The Health Benefits of Sunlight"

If sunlight is so necessary to the perpetuation of life, and the production of normal development, it is equally necessary to the preservation of health and the prevention of "disease." If it is as necessary to life and health as are food and air, the body must inevitably be weakened and "diseased" in its absence. It fills an important need in the organism and its place cannot be filled by anything else. The highest degree of health cannot be attained and maintained without it.

It is essential to the restoration of health and hastens recovery in all forms of illness. I agree with Saleeby, who declares: "Every Sanitarium which is not essentially a solarium must today be called a tragic farce."

Etiolated plants are structurally weaker, possess less resistance to weather changes and to "disease" influences. They are unable to fructify and often unable to put forth leaves. "Etiolated" animals are the same. Their bones are more delicate, tissues less firm and resistant; they are short-lived, subject to "disease" and possess less resistance to weather changes. Plants grown in the dark lack color, and are unable to flower and fructify. Some of them, like the potato, are unable to put forth leaves. They are of very poor quality, breaking easily, and short-lived. Every cell and fiber in the plant and animal body is strengthened by the sun's rays. People who live in-doors out of the sun, are pale, weak and flabby. Every home should have a solarium.
Herbert M. Shelton in Fasting and Sun Bathing

The Health Benefits of Sunlight

excerpted from The Hygienic System: Fasting and Sun Bathing by Herbert M. Shelton, D.P., N.D., D.C., D.N.T., D.N. Sc., D.N. Ph., D.N. Litt., Ph. D., D. Orthp., Vol. III, published by Dr. Shelton's Health School, San Antonio, Texas


THOUSANDS of sickly nurslings, pining away in the slums of our manufacturing towns, might be saved by an occasional sun-bath. Aside from its warmth and its chemical influence on vegetal oxygen, sunlight exercises upon certain organisms, a vitalizing influence which science has not yet quite explained, but whose effect is illustrated by the contrast between the weeds of a shady grove and those of the sunlit fields, between the rank grass of a deep valley and the aromatic herbage of a mountain meadow, as well as by the peculiar wholesome appearance of a "sunburned" person or a sun-ripened fruit.



"Life is a sun-child," says Dr. Oswald; "nearly all species of plants and animals attain the highest form of their development in the neighborhood of the equator. Palm trees are tropical grasses. The python-boa is a fully developed black snake; the tiger an undiminished wild cat. With every degree of a higher latitude, Nature issues the representatives of her arch-types in reduced editions--reduced in beauty and longevity, as well as in size and strength."--Nature's Household Remedies, p. 79.

This statement was made in 1885 and, although Hygienists had been employing the sunbath in this country for over thirty-five years at the time Dr. Oswald's statement was made, the practice was still frowned upon by the medical professions and all who employed sunbaths were denounced as charlatans, quacks and ignorami. People who took sun-baths were called faddists, extremists, fanatics a nd other pleasing names. Indeed, these names were still being applied to sun-bathers in 1911, when the present writer began taking sun-baths.

Sunbathing antedates recorded human history. Savages, "primitive" peoples, little boys and animals instinctively seek to avail themselves of the benefits of sunshine. There has never been a time when mankind has not enjoyed its influence and only a false ascetic pattern of life and the monastic ideals ever, even for a time, deprived part of the race of at least occasional use of the sun.

During recent years the wearing of very scanty clothing, shorts, abbreviated bathing suits, etc., by both sexes, young and old, has served to give the youth of today the advantages of sunshine. The rise of nudism has also contributed to this effect. Today on our school grounds we see boys and girls at play with large parts of their bodies exposed, while smaller children run around in their sun-suits.

Due recognition for these radical changes in our ways of life and our attitudes toward the body is not being given to those men and women who fought and suffered for a hundred years to bring just this thing about. Today children are reaping the benefits of the struggles of the Hygienists and are being lied to about to whom credit belongs.

Before present practices could come into vogue, people had not only, to be told of the value of sunbathing but they had to be educated out of their prudish notions about the body and its various parts. Much work remains to be done, but we must not overlook the great work done by those who have gone ahead.

Before discussing the modern phase of sunbathing I deem it in order to give a brief account of the practice in ancient times.

Evidence of the use of the sun as a health restorative and preservative measure, may be found in every period of history, in all peoples, savage or civilized. Positive evidence of the hygienic use of the sun is found in the history of the Egyptians and other peoples. The Babylonians, Egyptians and Assyrians had their sun gardens; the Greeks their helioses; the Romans their solaria.

Akhenaton, of Egypt; Zoroaster, of Persia; Hippocrates, of Greece; each and all elevated the sun to the dignity of a god and a force. The great sanitarium of Hippocrates, on the Island of Cos, was equipped with a large solarium for the use of the sun. The Roman thermæ were all equipped with solaria for those taking sun-baths.

Pliny says that in these hot-houses the sun is very helpful. Hippocrates extols the exsiccative (drying) action of sun-light. Herodotus gives extensive instructions for the use of the sun-bath, emphasizing its effect in strengthening the muscles and nerves. Antyllos describes at some length the effects of sunlight, his description comparing well with those of modern users. Philostratus tells us that the Olympian athletes were required to take sun-baths.

Celsus, Pliny the younger, Galen, and Cicero, are among the Roman writers who describe the use of the sun-bath. "Sol est remediorum maximum"--the sun is the best remedy--declared Pliny. The flat roofs of the southern houses were esteemed as solaria by the Romans. In Rome, Pliny the younger, tells us of Vestricus Spurina, that as soon as the hour of the bath had come, he went to walk completely naked in the sun if the air was calm, then played with a ball a long time.

The old German epic poem, the Edda, tells us that Germans used to carry their sick, in the springtime to the sunny mountain slopes, in order to expose them to the sunshine. Certain Germanic tribes placed their feverish children in the sunlight on the tops of their houses. On the shores of the Bay of Gascony, sunlight is still employed in rheumatism. The Incas of Peru treated "syphilis" with sun baths. In Haiti similar procedures are still employed.

Man was originally a nude animal. He first learned of the kindness of the sun, when, migrating into the temperate zones, or following earth's change of climate, he felt the sting of cold and the bite of cloudy, inclement weather. He learned the warming and cheering power of the sun and came in time to worship the sun as a god. Sun worship antedates recorded history. At one time or another, the whole human race has worshipped the sun. At the time of the discovery of America, the more advanced Indian tribes of both continents were sun worshippers.

It is asserted that the first Egyptian temple was erected to the sun god and that the Egyptians employed the sun bath over five thousand years ago. This temple was erected in a city called On, which was east of the Nile. Later, the name of the city was changed to Heliopolis--City of the Sun.

Religion and philosophy alike taught that the sun is the source and creator of life, and there are yet many who hold this view. In the third century, A.D., Mithraism, or sun worship, came very near becoming the universal religion. It was so like Christianity in every essential respect that it became its chief opponent.

The final triumph of Christianity and its extreme reaction against everything "Pagan," practically ended the sun-bath, so widely employed by well and sick alike in ancient times, just as it destroyed the Roman thermæ.

The Ancients, as disclosed by Herodotus and Antyllos, knew that "the sun feeds the muscles," and the Romans made use of its effects in strengthening and enlarging the muscles in training their gladiators, to whom they gave sun-baths. Ancient physicians declared the sun to be "the best food and medicine in the world."

Between the Ancient world and the Modern, there was interposed the Middle Ages, or Dark Ages. There was a thousand years reign of anti-natural madness that practically destroyed all that was of value in ancient civilization and preserved for us chiefly its worst or least desirable features. During this millenium of madness, the only physicians who employed the sun-bath were among the Jews and Arabians.

The modern phase of sunbathing had a dual origin--one of these in Europe, the other in the United States. I shall discuss the European phase first.

Arnold Rikli, who died in 1907 at the age of 97 [his correct data seem to be 1823-1906], is regarded as the originator of the modern practice of sun-bathing. For over half a century he prescribed sun-baths in his institution established at Veldes [Bled] in Krain [English: Carniola], on the Adriatic Sea, in 1855. This institution in Austria attracted patients from all over the world.

Rikli wrote seven books about his methods, of which the principal ones were translated into the Spanish, French and Italian languages. It would be a reasonably safe guess that Loncet, Finsen and Rollier were all acquainted with the work of this "irregular" or nature cure practitioner.

F. Thedering, M.D. (Germany), Dr. Liek, A. Monteuius, M.D. (France), Laurason Brown, M.D., Saranack Lake, N. Y., each give Rikli credit for his work, although Dr. Brown attempts to hide his true character by calling him a physio-therapist.

Waldvogel, of Bohemia, in 1755, had advocated sun-bathing; but he had few or no followers; while Madame Duhamel, at Berck, exposed tubercular children to sunshine as far back as 1857, believing that sun-bathing would hasten recovery. Dr. Lahman employed the "Sun and Air Cure" in his institution in Germany, as did Bilz in his famous institution; Bilz employing it as early as 1872-73. Sun-bathing has continued to grow in popularity in all parts of Europe and has been adopted by both the Youth Movement and the Nudity Movement.

In America, the first advocate of sun-bathing was Sylvester Graham, who declared, while discussing the evils of clothing in "Lectures on the Science of Human Life."--p. 638: "My object is not to advocate bodily nudity in society; although I cannot doubt that morality would be greatly improved by it, in the course of two or three generations, if in all other respects mankind conformed to the true laws of their nature;

"If man were always to go entirely naked, the external skin, the anatomical structure and functional character and relations of which we have fully contemplated, would be preserved in a more healthy and vigorous state, and perform its functions more perfectly, and thereby the whole human system in all its properties, powers and interests would be benefited; the circulation, and particularly the venous circulation which is near the surface, would be more free and unobstructed; respiration, or breathing would also be more free, full and perfect; voluntary action would be more unrestrained and easy; the bones be less liable to disease and distortion; all the muscles of voluntary motion would be better developed and more powerful; in short the anatomical development and symmetrical proportion, and the physiological power, and functions of every part in the whole system, would be more perfect, and, as a natural consequence, the sensual appetites would be more purely instinctive, and exert a less energetic and despotic influence on the mental and moral faculties, and imagination would be deprived of its greatest power to do evil."

Following close upon Graham's heels, Dr. Trall placed great emphasis upon the power of sunlight, both in health and disease. He discusses it at great length in his Hydropathic Encyclopedia, p.p. 304-307 (Vol. 1). He declares that "abundant sunshine" should "be allowed special prominence in the remedial plan" in "Cachexies--scrofula, in its various forms of humors and tumors, glandular enlargements, white swelling, cutaneous eruptions, fever sores, rickets, lumbar abscesses, hip disease, otitis, ophthalmia, etc., as well as plethora, scurvy, elephantiasis, cancer, etc."

In his Water-Cure for the Millions (1860) Trall says: "The importance of light as a remedial agent, is not sufficiently appreciated. Many persons who live in elegant and expensively furnished houses so darken many of the rooms, in order to save the furniture, as to render the air in them very unwholesome.

The scrofulous humors which prevail among those inhabitants of our cities in rear buildings and underground apartments, sufficiently attest the relation between sunshine and vitality. Invalids should seek the sunlight as do the flowers--care being taken to protect the head when the heat is excessive, exposing the whole skin in a state of nudity, frequently, to the air, and even to the rays of the sun, is a very invigorating practice. For scrofulous persons this is particularly serviceable."

Although others had suggested the use of sunlight in rickets before him, credit for the discovery of its value in this condition is given to Huldschinsky, who in 1919, "definitely proved that sunlight could prevent and cure rickets." A reading of Trall's works would show any unbiased student that he was nearly seventy years ahead of Huldschinsky in making this discovery.

Dr. Geo. H. Taylor, Trall's co-worker, in a book published in 1860, under the title, The Swedish Movement Cure and reproduced in 1883 under the title, Health by Exercise, lays great stress upon the value of sunlight, both in health and in disease. He particularly emphasizes its value in scrofula (tubercular adenitis) and its great service to nursing mothers.

"It is wonderful," he says, "and delightful to see how soon a pale, attenuated, miserable child, after being freely exposed to the sunlight for several hours every day, will begin to improve, and the symptoms here described (scrofula) to disappear. Even scrofulous swelling of the glands of the neck, or other parts of the body, will quickly succumb under the magical influence of sunlight and pure air."

In his Weak Lungs and How to Make Them Strong (1863), Dr. Dio Lewis devotes a brief chapter to sunshine in which he says: "I have assisted many dyspeptic, neuralgic, rheumatic, and hypochondriacal people into health, by the Sun-Cure. I have so many facts illustrating the wonderful power of the sun's direct rays in curing certain classes of invalids, that I have seriously thought of publishing a work, to be denominated, the 'Sun-Cure'."

Dr. Lewis presents a few cases illustrating the results of exposure to the sun, including the case of a lawyer suffering with partial paralysis, constant pain in the loins, and other symptoms. He directed the man to lie in the direct rays of the sun coming through a window, daily, beginning with ten minutes a day and increasing the exposure to a full hour. "His habits were not essentially altered in any other particular." The man made a complete recovery in six months.

Lewis says: "Seclusion from sunshine is one of the misfortunes of our civilized life. The same cause which makes potato vines white and sickly, when grown in dark cellars, operates to produce the pale sickly girls that are reared in our parlors. Expose either to the direct rays of the sun, and they begin to show color, health, and strength."

Dr. James C. Jackson devotes twelve pages to sunlight in his How to Treat the Sick Without Drugs (1868), in which he says: "I do not know of any man in this country who has made as constant use of it (the sun) as I have." He describes seventy-five to one hundred and twenty-five persons taking sun baths at one time for periods ranging from twenty-five minutes to three hours, even to four or five hours, for sixty to ninety days in the summer season. His patients were not nude, but were "clad in as light colored clothing as the patient may be able to wear."

He says: "The effect on the persons is quite as astonishing as the sight to the new observer is strange. Many of these persons who have failed under the application of the best tonics and anodynes soon become so strengthened and innervated as to be able to sleep, not only when they go to bed at night, but also while taking their sun-baths."

Again: "Therapeutically considered it (sunlight) is to be regarded as one of our most powerful remedial agents, and has, in my estimate, come to fill so important a place in Nature's materia medica as to give me great confidence in being able to use it in the treatment of certain diseases with a success which challenges my highest satisfaction."

Dr. Benedict Lust says that "the first sun-baths given in America were at Butler, New Jersey, at the Youngborn, in 1897."

While, as seen above, Dr. Lust is in error, the fact is that the sun-bath has been employed continuously in this country for a hundred years or more.

It is only since World War 1, that any considerable attention has been given to sun-bathing by the medical profession and there yet remains much opposition to it in medical circles. Most medical writers on the subject attempt to show that sun-bathing was an old medical practice. However, it is false to say that the instinctive sun-bathing of savages and the sun-bathing of the sun-worshippers of ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, Peru, etc., was a therapeutic practice or that it belonged to or was a discovery of the medicine men of the past.

Now that the medical profession has partially recognized the value of sunlight, they forget the work of those they formerly denounced and derided, and tell us that Dr. Loncet, of Lyons, France, made the first series of observations as to the effects of sunlight in disease in the decade of 1890-1900.

Dr. Neils Finsen, of Denmark, who experimented with sun rays and also with artificial light is given much credit. In 1890 a Dr. Palm, of England, contributed an article to The Practitioner in which he discussed the value of sunlight in the prevention and correction of rickets.

In 1911 Dr. Rollier, a French physician, began following Loncet's methods, and continues his work to the present. Many physicians, among them Sir Henry Gauvin, of England, and Dr. Hess, of this country, have plunged into this field with earnestness and zeal. Today sun-bathing has attained respectability despite the fact that it is not yet understood by its medical supporters.



Scientists have made many efforts to define light and many more to determine what it is. So far no fully satisfactory definition has been formulated and no one would be so dogmatic as to claim he knows what it is. We shall devote no space to recounting any of the hypotheses that have been invented in an effort to explain light, but shall view its physical properties only.

Light is a composite entity, which may be broken up, by means of a prism, into the color band of the spectrum--red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. These different colors represent different rates of vibration of the light rays. From red to violet the wave lengths decrease, while the rate of vibration increases.

Sunlight contains, in addition to the color rays, a number of other rays, the "vibrations" of which are not perceptible to our ocular sense and are therefore invisible.

Today it is known that there is a continuity from one end to the other of the spectrum from waves of electricity miles long at one end to the recently discovered Milikan waves, at the other, which are shorter even than gamma rays. These long electric rays vibrate only a few times a second, while gamma rays, which are only three-hundred millionth of a millimeter in length, vibrate one hundred thousand billion times a second.

Expressing these smaller waves in centimeters or even in millimeters quickly brings us to exceedingly small fractions, so that smaller standards have come into use, such as millimicrons, equalling a millionth of a millimeter, or an Angstrom Unit (A.U.), equalling a ten millionth of a millimeter. An Angstrom unit measures approximately 1,250,000,000th of an inch. This is to say, it requires 10,000,000 of them to equal the diameter of a human hair of average thickness.

The visible or color spectrum is composed of rays that vibrate from 8100 A.U. (red) to 3900 A.U. (violet). These are the rays of light visible to the eye and give us sensations of light, color and heat. They possess chemical and heating power. Their heating power is greatest at the red end of the spectrum where they blend with the infra-red rays, while their chemical activity is greatest at the violet end, where they blend with the ultra-violet rays.

To the right of the violet band is a group of very short rays called ultra-violet rays, ranging in sunlight from 2900 A.U. to 3900 A.U. To the left of the red band are invisible rays, of longer wave-lengths than the visible red--the infra-red rays.

Waves between the length of 3900 A.U. and 2900 A.U. are classed as waves of middle ultra-violet. These rays are highly destructive and do not reach us from the sun; being, fortunately for us, filtered out by the atmosphere. No rays shorter than 2900 A.U. reach us from the sun. Shorter rays must be produced by artificial radiation. The infra-red rays run as big as 600,000 A.U., but there is no extension of the ultra-violet end of the sun's spectrum beyond 2900 A.U. even on the tops of high mountains.

The invisible rays of the sun seem to be the most beneficial to our bodies--the infra-red, below the lower (red) end of the spectrum, and the ultra-violet, above its upper (violet) end, are the rays to which the greatest importance is attached. As will be seen later, however, the complete solar-spectrum, with all its colors and shades so blended and proportioned as to produce white light, is needed for ideal growth and development.

It is estimated that the amount of ultra-violet in the sun's total radiation is, upon entering earth's atmosphere, 5%; visible (light) rays, 52%; infra-red rays, 43%. Due to atmospheric conditions, the amount of ultra-violet energy reaching the earth's surface is only about 1% with the light constituting 40%, and the infra-red 59%. The amount varies with locality, season, altitude, cloudiness, etc., of the atmosphere. Enough sunlight passes through clouds and fog to vitalize plant and animal life.

Infra-red rays are absorbed by carbon dioxide, and water vapor in the atmosphere. While water vapor is transparent to ultraviolet rays, smoke absorbs both these and the visible rays, particularly violet, blue and green. Glass is opaque to rays of shorter wavelengths than 3000 A.U.

The Use of Sunshine


Dr. James C. Jackson wrote: "I think it may be said with perfect truth, that no living organism, of whatever species, whose subject has a brain, a pair of lungs, stomach, bowels and back-bone, can ever be equal in the exhibition of capacities, if it be kept in shaded sunlight, to what it would be if permitted to follow out its own habits in unshaded sunlight.

Superior qualities are uniformly found existing in animals of the same species as these live in unshaded sunlight. This is just as true of humans as it is of animals; whoever lives habitually in the sunlight grows strong. This is not only true of the body itself in its various parts, but is true of the intelligent and responsible faculties which reside within the body.

If women lived in the open air as much as men do, they would have capacities as much greater than now as men have now greater capacities, than they would have if they lived in homes like women."--How to Treat the Sick Without Medicine.

The manner in which sunlight is used to produce the effects that follow is not well understood, and many theories, some of these very ridiculous, have been offered to explain its use. That it is used in some way similar to the uses of vitamins seems certain to me. I look upon it as a catalyzer and its action that of catalysis. A catalytic agent or substance is one which possesses power to instigate a chemical reaction without itself being transformed or destroyed in the course of the process.

Most of the chemical changes with which the chemist is familiar require something to "touch off" the reaction. Thus explosives require a jar or a shock to cause them to explode. Hydrogen and oxygen gases, if mixed in the dark do not unite. If mixed in the light they unite explosively. Photography is based entirely upon the power of light to instigate chemical change or reaction. That plants and animals make use of this power of sunlight is certain.

Sunlight is vitally important in the nutritive processes of both plant and animal life. Perhaps we cannot call it a food, but we can, at least, call it an accessory nutritive factor. Its office would seem to be somewhat like, if not identical with that of the vitamins. Take away sunlight and all life upon earth would perish. In the tropics, where the sunlight is most abundant, life exists in greatest profusion. In those portions of the earth where nights are longest and days are shortest, and where long winters prevail, life is either absent altogether or it consists of poorly developed forms.

Under the influence of light, plants both excrete and absorb oxygen. The absorption of oxygen goes on continuously; but its excretion takes place only when the plant is exposed to light. The plant leaves absorb carbon dioxide from the air. They employ the carbon in producing starches and sugars and release the oxygen which may again be used by animals.

Light enables plants to assimilate carbon dioxide and convert it into plant substances. The carbon dioxide is transformed into formaldehyde and this in turn is polymerized to sugar by the action of light. A carbohydrate is thus formed by plant metabolism under the influence of light.

Photosynthesis is the manufacture of carbohydrates out of carbon dioxide and water in the chlorophyll-containing parts of plants exposed to sunlight. Both chlorophyll and xanthophyll are associated in the process of photosynthesis; chlorophyll being the most important. The radiant energy acting in the synthesis of carbohydrates has been shown to be located in the visible spectrum. Red, orange and yellow light rays are considered most important light rays in plant assimilation, blue and violet show the least synthetic energy.

Green leaves chiefly absorb the red rays and only absorbed rays are chemically active. It has been said that, "It is the red rays which make a green world; it is red rays which make life possible; and the rosy cheek is in truth on fire with the red light hidden in the green leaf."

The starch of fruits and some plants, like cane and beets, is converted into sugar in the ripening process. This conversion requires the action of light. Heat will accomplish part of the work, but the perfection of these sugars requires the work of ultra-violet rays.

Sunlight is essential to the production of both the green coloring (chlorophyll) of the leaves and the many colors of the flowers, stems, leaves and fruits. The beautiful colors of flowers cannot be produced or perfected without light.

Sunlight helps plants to tear down compounds and to synthesize new ones. Both phases of catalysis are represented in its work. It aids them in transforming one of its products into another. The chemical effects of light are related to the processes of photo-synthesis, photolysis, photopolymerisation, photo-oxydation, and reduction, photoisomerisation.

An examination of a leaf in the early morning reveals little or no starch. After a few hours of exposure to the sun's rays, plenty of starch will be found in it, the quantity increasing with the length of exposure to the sun. If two pieces of cork or cardboard are pinned closely to opposite sides of the leaf, the covered part of the leaf will be much whiter, in a few days, than the rest; and if the rest of the leaf is left exposed to the sun's rays, a test with iodine will show the presence of much starch in the healthy green part, while the paler or covered part contains little or no starch.

A plant kept in darkness grows colorless, flaccid and stunted. Given sunshine, it soon regains its color and unfolds bud, leaf, flower and fruit. Moss, mould and fungi are all that can grow in a cave. Deprived of sunlight, the plant dies outright or puts forth a sickly, colorless growth. If any rays of light chance to filter through the coverings of the plant, the plant will bend towards the light in its effort to receive the little understood, but nonetheless actual benefits of the light. If it fails, it soon withers and dies. The pale colorless plant deprived of sunlight, is said to be etiolated.

The stalk of a potato that sprouts in the cellar will be as white as chalk and as tender as bleached celery and the substance of the potato will be exhausted without a new vegetable being formed. Put the potato out-of-doors, where it will receive sunshine, and it will put forth green leaves, its stalk will become thick and strong, it will grow and produce more potatoes.

Etiolation is the change in appearance and structure of the plant caused by growth in absence of light. Chlorophyll is lacking in etiolated dicotyles and monocotyles, and its absence makes the yellow pigment, carolin (formerly called etiollin), evident. Red light, free from blue or violet rays, produces all the etiolation, except lack of chlorophyll. The more refrangible portion of the spectrum is the important portion in determining growth and structural modification in plants. Etiolation is not limited to monocotyles and dicotyles, but appears in gymnosperms, ferns, mosses, algæ and fungi.

Plants turn their leaves and flowers to face the sun, and some of these, like the sun-flower, follow the sun around, seemingly in order to have the largest possible area exposed to its radiations. Bonnier subjected Alpine plants to dim light and high humidity and converted them into arctic plants.

I quote the following from Rational Diet, p.p. 25-26 by Otto Carque: "Of the many experiments which have been made so far to demonstrate the beneficial effects of sunlight, that of John Blayton is the more remarkable and significant. In order to determine whether the indirect or diffused daylight, perhaps during a longer period of time, has the same effect as the direct sunlight, he selected twelve bean plants of the same variety and in the same state of development. Then he planted them in such a way near one another, that six always had full direct sunlight while the other six received only the diffused daylight. In October, the pods were harvested and the weight of those exposed to the sun's rays was found to be in the proportion of 29:99 that of the dried beans 1:3.

"This result was to be expected, but in the following year, when all the plants grown from the same seed received the full amount of sunlight, the surprising fact was ascertained that those which had been raised in the shade only yielded half the amount of the previous year's harvest, while in the fourth year, they blossomed but did not mature. The deprivation of sunlight during one summer weakened the stock in such a degree that the species became extinct after four years."

This series of experiments reveal that the absence of sunlight has a harmful effect upon the germ-plasm and is thus an actual cause of racial degeneracy. We are dealing with a more important element of Natural Hygiene than has heretofore been realized.

The greater part of a seed of a plant constitutes a lunch-basket for the baby plant that lies as an embryo or germ in one end of the seed. Mature plants take the raw materials of the soil, water and air, and, with the aid of sunshine, produce their own food.

Quite an equipment of roots, green leaves and other organs are necessary to do this. The tiny plant, just emerging from the seed, or coming up through the soil, is not so equipped, so that a few days must elapse before it will be able to produce its own food out of the raw materials, and thus be self-supporting.

The seed is a store-house of food for the embryo plant, just as the egg is a storehouse of food for the embryo bird, and just as the bird could never develop, except its food be prepared for it in advance, so, the little plant, if left without food to carry it through its embryonic stages, would die. It is, therefore, supplied with enough previously prepared food to enable it to construct its own food-securing roots, leaves, etc.

When we consider that one squash plant in the garden requires fifteen miles of root and that each corn stalk in the field requires about a thousand feet of root to extract the calcium, sulphur, iodine, potassium, sodium, magnesium, etc., from the moist soil around them, we get some idea of the great amount of root structure required to take up the soil elements for food.

View, then, the immense surface these and other plants expose to the sun and air, in the form of leaves, to take the elements from the air and to convert the soil elements and the elements from the air into plant substances and we begin to understand why plant-seeds are lunch baskets for the "embryo" plants resting in one end of them. Until their leaves are developed, so they can make use of sunshine, they are not able to utilize the elements of the soil.

Dr. Trall pointed out that "in some of the lower animals the process of metamorphosis is arrested by deprivation of the solar influence. The tadpole, for example, instead of developing into the frog, either continues to grow as a tadpole, or degenerates into some kind of monstrosity; and the specimens of human monstrosities, developed abnormally, in consequence of the absence of a due degree of 'Heaven's first-born,' are neither few nor far between in the underground tenements of large cities."

Colors of animals, butterflies and birds, as well as the development of the eyes of mammals, are determined by light.

Complete absence of light not only results in blindness in animals, but even in eyelessness. The young of blind fish and crustaceans have normal eyes, but mature forms may be entirely eyeless. Light is responsible for pigmentation in animals and for changes in color.

The animal body does not assimilate calcium in the absence of sunlight. The noted physicist, Eddington, has shown that the ultraviolet rays of the sun are capable of ionizing sodium, calcium, and perhaps hydrogen, magnesium, silicon and iron. Sodium is only singly ionized while calcium is doubly ionized by these rays. Ionization is a splitting up of the atoms into their constituents. (Double ionization is the splitting off of two ions.). I do not know how much this ionization of calcium and sodium, by the ultra-violet rays, has to do with the use of these and other elements in the body, but suggest that further study of the subject may be productive of results.

Chickens raised in the sunlight produce harder and thicker shells on their eggs. Chickens, geese and other birds raised in the dark put on fat more rapidly. Calcium does not seem to be "laid down" in the absence of sunlight. Children born in the Spring and Summer, and dying in the Winter, show less rickets than those born in the Fall.

A few years since, some experiments were performed on rats at the Johns Hopkins University. Eighteen rats were fed a diet which was known, from previous experience, to produce in rats, rickets, which resembles in every way the same "disease" in man. Twelve of these rats were sent to New Haven, Conn., where they were exposed to the sunshine for about four hours daily for about two months. The other six rats were kept in Baltimore and raised in well-ventilated, but poorly lighted rooms.

At the end of the period the rats were all killed and examined. The report states that in the rats exposed to the sun no evidences of rickets were found. Their condition was normal with the exception of the bones, which were more delicate than in rats of a corresponding age which had been raised on a more satisfactory diet. An abundance of fat was present. The rats raised in Baltimore, away from the sun, presented but scant fat, as well as evidence of rickets.

Are we to conclude from this experiment that sunlight can be made to take the place of a proper diet? Shall we conclude that the sun's rays supply the lacking food elements? Not at all. We can only claim that rickets is due to a combination of "causes," among which is lack of sunlight. It is evident that the required food elements were present in the diet but that the rats out of the sunshine were not able to extract and assimilate them. The other rats under the beneficent effects of the sun's rays were enabled to extract the food elements and assimilate them.

The phosphorus and calcium content of an infant's blood rises and falls with the seasons, there being less in Winter and more in Spring and Fall. Dr. Hess, of Columbia University, has pointed out that in New York City, rickets reaches its peak in March--that is, at the end of Winter after months of deprivation of sunshine.

As previously pointed out, it was known to the ancients that "sunshine feeds the muscles." Today every athlete employs sunbathing as a regular part of his or her training. For it not only adds to the size and qualities of the muscles, it increases the calcium in them and adds to their enduring powers. The firmness of the athletic muscle requires calcium in considerable amounts. Such muscles contain far more calcium than flabby ones. After exercise their calcium content is diminished. Muscles subjected to proper sun exposure grow larger, firmer, and have their contractile powers enhanced even without exercise, due partly to the increase of lime in them, and partly to improved nutrition in general.

Milo Hastings tried raising a thousand chickens in an airy, sunless building, by feeding them an abundance of green food — lettuce, rape, chard, etc. He says: "I nursed and nourished those thousand chicks most carefully and never once let them out of doors; but I fed them green leaves galore and far more abundantly than any outdoor chicks would have been able to provide for themselves. My chicks thrived for a few weeks and then began to spraddle and sprawl, and developed bow-legs aplenty. One hundred of them died from their mal-formations and inability to get around to their food. Then I turned the rest of them out of doors, and they recovered promptly, and the weak legs grew strong, though the worst of them remained twisted and bent at ridiculous angles."

The skin that has become weakened by clothing serves as a less effective barrier to infectious matter from the outside.

Medical books list about twenty different forms of skin inflammation, about forty different varieties of hypertrophies, thirty-five atrophies, several forms of neurosis, several varieties of skin hemorrhages, about sixty to seventy kinds of new growths, and many parasitical affections. These skin "diseases" appear almost wholly among the much clad denizens of the hot house condition we proudly term civilization, and are seldom, some of them never, met with among the unclad races. George Wharton James, author of What the White Man May Learn From the Indian, says:

"While there is no doubt that the uncivilized and unclothed Indian occasionally suffers from a few forms of skin disease, I can abundantly testify from my thirty years intimate association with the tribes of the Southwest, that amongst those who have been least in contact with civilization, there is so little skin disease as to make it inappreciable.

For many years I scarcely saw a skin disease amongst them, and when the skin would be torn or injured in any way, as I have often seen it, by their falling from a horse, by riding through the forest after deer and catching the projecting limbs of trees, etc., the rapidity with which the wound healed was both surprising and enlightening.

It was enlightening in that it revealed to me the advantage, from this standpoint at least, of their life over mine. When my skin was torn there was a good deal of pain and it took a long time to heal, and yet I was far healthier than many white men. Yet what to me was a severe skin wound they regarded as a trivial affair, paying little or no attention to it, and the rapidity with which it healed justified their scornful laugh at my warnings that they take care of it lest greater evil ensue."

Mr. James also says: "I have never seen an Indian with a poor head of hair or with dandruff or any other disease of the scalp."

In general the pigmented skin is more resistant to infections and pathological causes. Even nipples that are covered with a delicate, lightly pigmented skin are more liable to become sore from sucking. During pregnancy the nipple aerola becomes pigmented to lessen the disadvantages incident to nursing. A good coat of tan also increases resistance to both cold and heat.

A skin, well-pigmented in response to sun-bathing, tends to become firm and strong, but at the same time delicate and soft, almost silk-like in texture. Sunshine is the finest cosmetic. Increased turgor, followed, in a short time by a filling out or padding out of the exposed skin and a smoothing away of wrinkles results from sunbathing. Increased beauty is the outcome.


Saleeby says: "That a properly aired and lighted skin becomes a velvety, supple, copper coloured tissue, absolutely immune from anything of the nature of pimples or acne, incapable of being vaccinated (meaning its resistance to infection is greatly increased--Author), and its little hairs usually show considerable development.

When the visitor touches such a skin in the cool air, he is surprised to find it quite warm. The sun was not shining when I did so first, and the patient was, of course, perfectly nude except for a loin cloth. Evidently plenty of heat was somehow being produced in that little body, with so large a surface to cool, relatively to its mass."

The increased resistance to infection and to "disease" influences seen in the skin extends also to the internal organs. Dr. Trall declared that "nearly all forms of disease are more severe and unmanageable in low, dark apartments." With an insufficiency of light, the blood fibrin and the red corpuscles become diminished in quantity. The serum or watery portion of the blood is increased, inducing leukemia, a condition characterized by a great increase in the number of white blood corpuscles. A total exclusion of sun-light induces the more severe forms of anemia, a fact emphasized by Trall, originating from the impoverished and disordered state of the blood.

Cancer is less prevalent in the sunny regions of the earth. Inhabitants of southern mountain slopes are stronger and healthier than those living on the northern sides. Tenement house districts, in the large cities, to which sunlight has no access, have the greatest infant mortality and are the chief breeding places for rickets and tuberculosis. Pneumonia is most prevalent during dark, cloudy weather.

Trall declared that "diseases of all kinds, from the most trifling toothache, quincy, or rheumatism, to the severest attack of fever, scrofula, or consumption, are much less manageable in low, dark apartments. And it is notorious that during the prevalence of epidemics, as the cholera, the shaded side of a narrow street invariably exhibits the greatest ratio of fatal cases."

Dr. Carl Sonne experimented with the light bath on guinea pigs to determine its action on diphtheria toxin in the body. He, of course, employed experimental "diphtheria," that is, cultures of the supposed diphtheria bacillus.

His findings, however, are of value for the introduction of this material into the body means the introduction of powerful toxins. He found that the bath tends to the rapid destruction of the toxin. Saleeby describes the results thus:

"The destruction in the course of a single light bath lasting two hours, without the production of any fever (rise in the general body temperature) is as great as that caused by a fever of 40 degrees C., lasting several days and nights. The possible significance of this remarkable result for the treatment of such disease as diphtheria will be evident to the reader.

The germicidal power of sunlight is well known. It is the greatest of all disinfectants and antiseptics. Drs. Trall and Taylor both emphasized its powers in these directions. However, even in allopathic circles, where the germ theory is strongest, the idea is growing that light is less valuable in killing the germ than in raising the body's resistance to it.

In 1876 Downes and Blunt discovered the bactericidal power of violet light, although sunshine had long been used to disinfect "contagious" garments. There is now much effort to show that sunlight works by killing pathogenic bacteria and Finsen has attempted the treatment of lupus with artificial light.

However, sunlight has proved most valuable in rickets, anemia and a few other conditions in which bacteria are not assumed to act as etiological factors, while investigations have shown that the rays of short wave-lengths employed by Finsen have such feeble penetrating power that one bacterium shields another and that it is practically impossible that many of the well-entrenched "bugs" can be reached and destroyed by the rays.

Drs. Hill and Eidinow attempted to show that the ultra-violet rays cause the production of bactericidal substances. Dr. Eidinow found that sufficient ultra-violet insolation to cause erythema will increase the bactericidal power of the blood and it is now claimed that the Finsen lamp is more effective in the treatment of lupus if supplemented by general ultra-violet radiation.


As might have been expected, any influence which produces such marked effects upon nutrition and occasions such profound changes in the superficial as well as the deeper tissues of the body, as does sunlight, exerts a wholesome influence upon the mind. It is a matter of common observation that on dark, cloudy days, people are more subject to worry, ill-temper, moroseness, the "blues," etc., and that as soon as the skies become clear again and the sunshine returns, happiness and goodnaturedness return. But the sun's influence strikes deeper than this.

Dr. James C. Jackson noted nearly eighty years ago that "the more a man lives in sunlight, other things being equal, the more vigorous will his brain be; the more vigorous this, the more energetic and competent to their office will his mental faculties be."

A class of boys from the slums of London were taken to the garden of a private home on Clapham Common, where they studied and played all day attired only in very short "shorts" and no shirt. At the end of six weeks, in the feeble light afforded them by smoky, foggy London, they showed an increase in mental capacity and alertness.

Comparisons were made of physically defective children of London with physically defective children who had received light treatment at the Lord Mayor Treloar Cripple's Hospital at Alton. Both groups were mentally retarded because of their afflictions, and both were about the same age, eleven years. The London children had had more schooling. The mental retardation of the London children averaged 1.95 years while that of the Alton children averaged 1.14 years.


Sunshine stimulates the growth of hair. Under its influence, breathing becomes deeper and slower; sleep sounder, blood-pressure is diminished, and urinary excretion is increased. Ulcers, sores, skin diseases, etc., heal more rapidly under its influence. The skin itself is rejuvenated by such bathing. Sunshine aids in building good teeth. It undoubtedly aids in preserving the normal alkalinity of the blood and should prove an effective aid in restoring normal alkalinity.

There is not a tissue or function in the body that is not favorably affected, either directly or indirectly by sunshine. The sun's rays enable the animal, as they do the plant, to analyze compounds and to synthesize new ones. Sunshine is an essential catalytic agent in both plant and animal life.

The benefits to be derived from sunshine apply to all periods of life, but are greatest during periods of development and rapid gains in flesh. Not enough emphasis has been placed on its value to the unborn child.

The unborn child is supplied with food, water and oxygen from the mother's blood. Sunlight aids in skeletal development of babies before birth and aids in the production of milk after birth.


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