March 5, 2011

012 Light and Health [19 May 2009]

Sunlight plays an additional role in our health besides regulating our circadian rhythms and producing Vitamin D in our skin. Certain wavelengths, particularly UVA, work through the pineal, pituitary and hypothalamus glands to have a profound effect on many areas of health.

Light therapy is well known as an alternative treatment for a type of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

John N. Ott is a pioneer researcher of health effects of light. His early books Health and Light (1973) and Light, Radiation and You (1982) chronicle his exploration of the subject. An excerpt from his 90 minute video can be seen at (or search YouTube for John Ott)

Ott and other light-health researchers have found:

  • normal fluorescent lighting produces increased levels of stress-producing hormones ACTH and cortisol which explains the agitated behavior of children sitting all day under such lighting in school
  • children in classrooms with full spectrum lighting have less behavior problems, can concentrate better and learn faster
  • in one Florida study several extremely hyperactive children with learning disabilities completely calmed down and overcame their learning problems in the full-spectrum classroom
  • teachers reported more energy, fewer headaches and reduced frustration in full-spectrum classrooms
  • workplaces that switch to full-spectrum lights report improved employee morale, greater productivity, reduced errors and decreased absenteeism
  • staff at a Chicago restaurant featuring black lights (ultraviolet) remained extraordinarily healthy for over 20 years (with no cataracts!)

Incandescent and normal fluorescent lighting provide only a few wavelengths compared with the full spectrum light from the sun. Window glass and eyeglasses filter out the beneficial UVB rays.

So what can you do to make sure that you are getting the full spectrum light that your body needs for optimum health? Changing all your lights to full-spectrum fluorescents would be expensive but you could change a few in areas where you spend a lot of time. Spend an hour every day outside during daylight without your glasses (or contacts). Wear sunglasses only when necessary.

Sunlight is an essential nutrient. Ensure you are getting your daily dose.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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