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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. lonization 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 good naturedness 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.
Sunbaths before and after childbirth increase the mother's ability to nurse her baby and improve the quality of the milk, while they tend to prevent tiredness, backache, nausea, loss of appetite, emotionalism and hysteria during pregnancy.
Sunshine is even essential to the production of good milk. Hess showed that milk from cows fed on pastures in the sunlight maintains the health and growth of young animals, whereas, milk from cows maintained out of the sun and fed on fodder will not maintain life and growth. The American Review of Tuberculosis, Vol. XIII, No. 2, Feb. 1926, says: "Something also may be accomplished in this direction (the prevention of rickets) by improving the hygienic condition of milk cows. At present many of these furnishing the best grade of milk are kept throughout the year in sunless barns, are allowed a very limited amount of exercise, and receive little or no fresh green fodder."
It seems not to have occurred to them, as it did to Taylor, that the nursing mother would also be benefited by sunshine and that it would enable her to supply more and better milk for her child, so that she would not be forced to depend on the cow to mother her offspring.
It is notorious that the clad races and especially those who live in the cities and are in the sun but little, are unable to supply their children with milk that will sustain them. Babies that are themselves light-starved and that are fed on milk from light-starved mothers or light-starved cows are at a double disadvantage.
Drs. Binbury, Chisholm and McKillap, of England, report that in 50% of cases of mothers who lose enough blood at childbirth to be left weakened, sunshine means the saving of a failing supply of breast milk.
Mellanby says: "The antirachitic action of whole milk has been found to vary greatly according to the diet of the cow and the degree of exposure to sunlight. These facts have been worked out by Luce, who found that, when the cow was pasture-fed and exposed to sunlight, 2.6 cm. of its milk had approximately the same antirachitic action, when tested in rats, as 15 cm. of milk of the same cow when fed on a diet of white maize, gluten meal, oats and barley and mangolds, and kept in a dark stall."
Not vitamins alone, but minerals, are concerned in this problem. Milk from pasture-fed cows is not only richer in vitamins, but contains much higher percentages of phosphorus and calcium and fifty per cent more citric acid. Cows and mothers can produce perfect milk only when given green foods and exposed to the sun. Young animals fed exclusively on milk from cows fed in the shade on dry fodder lose weight and die. Similar animals fed on similar quantities of milk from cows that run in the pasture, getting both sunlight and green foods, grow and thrive.
Dr. Taylor declared: "Nursing mothers, especially need these hygienic influences (sunlight) to maintain the purity and vigor of their system that they may not lay the foundation for lasting disease in their offspring, for the child is sure to suffer, even sooner than the mother, the grievous consequences of her physiological errors."
The subjection of a pregnant woman to daily sunbaths will benefit both her and the developing foetus, and I am convinced, will also do much towards lessening the pains that now make childbirth a harrowing ordeal in so many cases. Sufficient sunshine during pregnancy will not only produce better general health in the mother and better development in the child, but it will prevent the loss of so much blood by the mother. Girls brought up in the sunshine, properly fed, and normally active, should develop so well that normally painless childbirth should be the rule instead of the now rare exception. It is worthy of note that those mothers who are in the sunlight the least are the ones who have the most difficult deliveries in childbirth. The unclad races have the easiest deliveries.
Sunlight is also especially important during puberty and adolescence, when profound internal reorganizations are taking place.
After a fast or a wasting illness, when it is desired to build up a lot of flesh, sunlight will aid in building the best kind of flesh.
It is asserted by some that sunshine enables the body to manufacture vitamin A. The theory has been advanced by Saleeby that the skin is an organ of internal secretion and that as suggested by Sheridan Delepine, under the influence of sunshine it contributes to the making of hemoglobin. He insists that in the pigmented skin, under the influence of sun-light, very active chemical processes are occurring.
If this view proves correct, it will justify Graham's attachment of so great importance to its effects upon the skin. Others think they have found that by the aid of sunshine the body manufactures a substance called cholestrin which is essential to calcium metabolism. Whichever way we turn the emphasis is on nutrition.
We can no longer relegate to an inferior position an element of hygiene which has so important and so necessary an influence on health and growth. Yet, "noon lulls us in a gloomy den, and night is grown our day."
After reviewing the evidence possessed in his day, Trall declared "these facts show us that light, and an abundant supply of it, is indispensable to a due development of all organized bodies." This statement expresses the fundamental difference between the ortho-bionomic use of sunshine and its medical use.
Due to the fact that sunshine is an essential of healthy nutrition, being necessary to growth, development and repair of tissue, it is of value in all states or conditions of the body. It is not a specific "cure" for one or two so-called "specific diseases," as the medical profession teaches. It is a hygienic, not a therapeutic agent, and is needed as well in health as in conditions of impaired health. It is needed by the healthy, growing, developing child, the pregnant or nursing mother, the chronic invalid, the convalescing patient, the athlete, and by all who desire to maintain or regain health. It is an important aid in building and maintaining health and we should not wait until we become sick to make use of it.
Trall and Taylor studied sunlight as food--not as an essential in certain states of impaired health, but as an indispensable elemental condition of continued active life and normal development and function. It is this difference in viewpoint of the two schools that accounts for the difference of application. Hygienists lay great stress upon sunshine--to the medical man it is of small importance.
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.
Sunlight dominates the chemistry of the blood. People who do not get sunlight do not have the same richness and redness of blood as do those who secure plenty of sunlight. It is not merely that their skins are etiolated (pale and white), but one may appropriately say that their blood and inner tissues are also pale. There is not a tissue nor a function in the body that is not benefited by regular and judicious sun-bathing. Many experiments both in this country and England have shown, to use Saleeby's words, that "without any amelioration of a thoroughly vicious and defective diet, the amount of phosphorus in the blood will be doubled after a week or two of daily exposure, lasting a few minutes only, to sunlight. Some chemical process is thus begun, some ferment, or internal secretion, or 'hormone,' constructed which enables the body to take and keep and use, from the diet, what it would otherwise have to go without. And the children at the school in the sun, most inexpensively and simply fed without medicine or cod-liver oil, flourish and grow strong and straight, and remain so, doubtless because these mysterious and as yet unexamined vital processes are set going in their bodies by the prime source of all life and health."
Quinke and Behring have shown that the oxygen consumption of living cells, is vastly greater in light than in darkness. Light, by increasing the chlorophyll in plants, and hemoglobin in animals, both of these being oxygen carriers, exerts an enormous influence on the metabolic processes of oxidation, reduction and synthesis.
Sunlight greatly increases the body's consumption of oxygen. Through added numbers of red cells and increase in their hemoglobin, the oxygen carrying power of the blood is increased. Indeed, sunlight benefits the ailing human body in the same manner that it influences impoverished plant life--in both cases it increases the oxygen-carrying matter--hemoglobin or chlorophyll.
Heitel found that the double spectrum line of oxygen in the coloring matter of the blood is diminished by the action of light, to the single band of reduced hemoglobin. Light acts on the one hand to disrupt the oxygen molecule from its loose connection with the hemoglobin, and on the other hand, to facilitate its combination with oxidizable food substances. Behring and Meyer pointed out that this process consists in activating certain oxidation ferments present in the blood (peroxidosis).
A few minutes of exposure daily to the sunlight will double the quantity of phosphorus in a baby's blood in a fortnight. The circulation of the blood itself is improved while blood-pressure is lessened. The power of the blood to build and repair tissue is increased, and its coagulating power greatly improved. Sun baths are indispensable to hemopheliacs or "bleeders."
Dr. James C. Jackson says that "a man who lives out in sunlight will grow thin in flesh but full in nerve. His muscles will diminish, but as they diminish his nerves become increased in size and strengthened, and their action on the muscles is such as decidedly to strengthen these; so that when one comes to look at him and judge of his strength by his apparent bulk, if he does not understand and fully appreciate the effect of living largely in the sunlight, he will greatly misjudge his muscular capacities."
In view of our greater knowledge of the influence of the sun upon the muscles, we are sure that what Dr. Jackson mistook for a decrease in muscular size coincident with an increase in strength and endurance, was, in reality, a loss of the fat in the muscles. It is not likely that the nerves increased much, if any, in size, but it is certain that they improved in quality and condition and increased their control over the muscles.
Describing tubercular patients, which he saw at Rollier's place, who received no exercise, and whose bodies were warm, though nude, while the air was quite cool, Saleeby says: "This would seem to be a puzzle, for these patients have, in many instances, never moved a muscle--practically speaking--for months; they have not even had their muscles innervated (sic) by the farradic current; they have not been massaged. But always the muscles are firm and well developed under the warm skin. 'The sun is the best masseur,' said Dr. Rollier to me; and one realized that the stimulant light, playing upon the nude skin in the cool air, induces and maintains that condition of tone in the muscles which, indeed, moves no points but is yet a form of muscular activity essential for the production of bodily heat and for the proper posture of the bodily parts. Hence we understand how plaster of Paris is here as utterly unknown as the knife. The tone of the muscles, thanks to the nude skin and the reflex response to the light, is enough to keep the recovering young spine, for instance, in proper position, and to form what Rollier calls the 'corset musculaire.' One sees very little fat on any of the patients. Their condition is more like that of the trained athlete, and one's ideas as to the importance of fat in tuberculosis go by the board."
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