HELIOTHERAPY – OVERVIEW & BENEFITS OF SUN BATH THERAPY
Sunlight is a form of energy which is beneficial for all the living creatures on earth, representing the fire element (Agni) among the panch-mahabhuta. It is most essentially required by all the plants and animals in the universe to survive with different purposes. The importance of sunlight can be understood from vision of eyes to the act of photosynthesis concluding as the most essential thing for sustenance of life. A lack of bright light and sun rays may lead to various medical disorders. As it is mentioned in Vedas that health is given by SUN God, so people worshipped him to procure health. In this article we will discuss sunbath therapy or heliotherapy, procedures of doing it in different ways with its health benefits.
Heliotherapy is the use of natural sunrays for the treatment of certain diseases. It is a form of phototherapy. Its other names are climate therapy and solar therapy. Sunlight exposure improves overall health of the body, improves life expectancy, enhances the immune system, controls infections, improves mental health etc. In Ayurveda, it is mentioned in one of the methods of niragni swedana and one of the methods of doing langhana kriya. It is effective in the treatment of psoriasis and other skin conditions as the sun rays emit ultraviolet radiations but it should be done when the sun rays are mild not at peak, as sharp rays can cause various skin conditions.
TYPES OF SUN BATH THERAPY-
- Basking in the morning
- Mild sunbath
- Walking sunbath
- Louis kuhne’s sun bath
- Trunk pack sun bath
- Whole pack sun bath
- Sun gazing
Basking in the sun – This type of sunbath should be done in mild sun in morning & later in evening, ideally in morning. It can be done while sitting, walking or lying down on the ground. Head and face should be shaded from the sun in the beginning with the help of banana leaf, any other leaf, or with white or green wet cloth.
TIME- One should practice basking until a pleasant feeling of warmth is felt.
Mild sun bath – This bath is taken when the sun rises high in sky & heat is mild i.e. within 3 hours after sunshine. The patient should lie down on a bed sheet spread on the ground & wear minimal clothes or covered with a thin cloth or shawl. Face should be covered with wet cloth. Continue till the body gets warm well. Then the body should be covered with wet cloth dipped in water.
TIME- starting from 15 minutes can be gradually increased up to 30 minutes.
Walking sun bath- walking in warm sunshine when the sun is quite hot with your head and face covered by wet cloth.
Trunk pack sun bath- this type of sunbath can be taken in a spinal tub. Tub should be placed in the sun. Place a wet porous thick cushion covering back from neck to the hip while keeping head side in shades. When he lies down, a wet sheet is taken to pack around the trunk with edges overlapping. Then cover the whole body with banana leaf, when the pack gets dried, the cloth should be drenched in cold water.
TIME- Patient may lie down till he feels relieved.
Indication- Diarrhea, Dysentery, Colic and cough.
Kuhne’s sun bath- This bath is only preferred to strong patients. It is taken in the same way as a mild sunbath. But a dry cloth is used to cover the body and wet cloth is used to cover diseased parts, eye & face. It continues till the sweating starts. Then the sweat should be wiped off with wet cloth followed by a cooling bath.
TIME- Not more than 50 minutes.
Sun gazing – For defective eyesight, gazing with open eyes through a green leaf daily for 5-15 minutes.
STEPS TO FOLLOW DURING SUNBATH THERAPY-
BEFORE TAKING SUNBATH
- Wash head, neck and face
- Only half the stomach must be filled
- Drink two glasses of water
AFTER SUNBATH THERAPY
- Do not take food immediately.
- Bath with cold water after ½ hour and wipe all body parts with a wet towel.
- Spinal bath for 15 minutes.
METHOD TO DO SUNBATH THERAPY-
- All parts of body should be exposed
- Period of sunbath must be divided four times
- ¼th left side
- ¼th right side
- ¼th front side
- ¼th back side
DURATION OF SUNBATH THERAPY-
Varies according to the physiological condition of the person. Time should be increased gradually. Duration should not exceed 1 hour.
PRECAUTIONS TO BE TAKEN DURING SUNBATH THERAPY-
- Head must be protected while taking a sunbath– either by keeping it in shade or by covering it with a wet cloth.
- Do not take a bath in strong sunlight.
- If headache or any other trouble occurs, the duration of sunbath should be reduced the next day.
INDICATIONS FOR SUNBATH-
- Acne vulgaris
- Neonatal jaundice
- Psychology depressants
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lower back ache
CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR SUNBATH-
- Angina Pectoris
- Cardiac disorders
- Chicken pox
- Hyper vitamin D
BENEFITS OF SUN BATH THERAPY-
- Melanin production
- Stimulate metabolism
- Positive effect on general health
- Improve condition of gland and secretion
- Vitamin – D formation
- Sunlight soothes nerves and boosts mood by increasing production of endorphins and serotonin.
HOW SUNBATH HELPS TO FIGHT BACK THE DISEASE?
- It increases blood circulation.
- Skin diseases– Sweating eliminates the toxic substances through skin.
- Main source of vitamin D – Pro vitamin D7, 7 dehydrocholesterol is transformed into pre vitamin in outer skin.
- Insomnia – In light therapy bright light strikes the retina of the eye used to treat the circadian rhythm.
- Mood disorders – It immediately increases brain serotonin, mood, alertness, and cognitive function.
- Neonatal jaundice- Neonatal jaundice also called Hyperbillirubinemia. Neonatal jaundice light is blue.
- Muscle health- Affect calcium handling involves the sarcoplasmic reticulum and calcium signaling in muscle cells.
- Increases immunity
PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF SUNBATH THERAPY IN DAILY LIFE ROUTINE-
Outdoor activities –
- Biking or riding bicycle
- Outdoor yoga
Outdoor locations to do activities –
- Fitness courts
Outdoor sports –
- Table tennis
Strategies for increased light exposure in the home
- Keep doors and windows open in the early morning.
- Keeping aside curtains from windows to allow sunlight in the house as much as possible.
- Having breakfast near a window where sun rays fall.
- Painting walls with light shade colors.
WHAT AYURVEDA TOLD ABOUT SUN BATH THERAPY?
Many ayurveda acharyas had mentioned about atapa sevan (sunbath therapy) under niragni sweda .” व्यायाम उष्णसदनं गुरुप्रावरणं क्षुधा| बहुपानं भयक्रोधावुपनाहाहवातपाः||६४||स्वेदयन्ति दशैतानि नरमग्निगुणादृते”|६५| which are vyayam (exercise), ushana sadana (living in warm place/house), guru pravarnam (wearing thick clothes or covered by a blanket), shudha (fasting), bahupana (drinking alcohol), bhaya (frighten), krodh (anger), upnaha(hot bandage), atapa (sunbath).which benefits in various diseases like kasa, shwas, pratishyay, karnshool, shirshool, ardit, pakshaghat, anaaha, vibandh, mutraghat etc. As well as it is also mentioned in 10 types of langhanas (fasting) which benefits like enhancing immunity to fight back various disease, cleanses toxins from body, detoxify body, feeling of happiness and relaxed etc. When the sunrays fall on retina it helps to increase ability to focus, concentrate and improves eye sight as well.
As for, as we have seen, sunbath therapy not only enables society to recover from various diseases but it prevents the onset of disease in a young, therefore contributing in the formation of healthy generations who are more resistant both morally and physically. This alone justifies considering heliotherapy as one of the most fertile acquisitions of Modern medicine.
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