Who can measure the value of this first gift of the Creator—He who Himself "is the source of life and light and joy to the universe. Like the rays of light from the sun, blessings flow out from Him to all the creatures He has made."—E. G. White, quoted in Principles of True Science, p. 615. By creating light before calling living matter into existence, God taught us that light and life go together.
The sun, "switched on like a mammoth arc light in the heavens," floods the earth with its life-giving, health-producing rays. This luminous orb, ninety-three million miles away, not only determines days and seasons and furnishes light and heat to this earth, but it also supplies invisible rays, pulsations of energy, which are absolutely essential to the life and health of every human being.
From earliest times the value of sunlight has been recognized. The ,ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans regarded the sun as the source of life and worshiped it as god. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, recommended the preventive and curative powers of sunlight. Micah, one of the Hebrew prophets, recognized its healing qualities as shown by the figure of speech he employs in Malachi 4:2, "But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings."
Today, as one doctor states, "Sunlight has been scientifically studied, its properties investigated, its effects tabulated, and its use standardized, until it stands as one of our foremost agencies in the prevention and treatment of disease."—L. D. Campbell, Decalogue of Health, p. 16.
Sunlight contains two important rays. The one, the infrared, or long heat wave, simply heats the body and stimulates the circulation, thus bringing more blood to the surface. This aids the body in absorbing the second ray, which we hear spoken of as ultraviolet.
Ultraviolet rays are short chemical rays, the ones responsible for the rich tan acquired by beach bathers. Within normal limits, these rays not only tan the skin but also increase body resistance to disease, especially colds and upper respiratory infections. They aid in the healing of wounds and bones, promote the increase of blood cells and hemoglobin' and aid generally in the promotion of health. In short, sunshine is a real tonic!
We are familiar with the effect of sunlight on the skin in the production of sun tan. This effect is more than skin-deep, however, because it converts a substance in the skin into vitamin D. This vitamin is absolutely necessary if the body is to make use of the minerals, iron and calcium, in the growth and development of bone. In fact, children who do not receive adequate vitamin D develop a deficiency disease known as rickets, which results in serious bone deformity. Sunlight and cod-liver oil are the only natural sources of vitamin D in adequate quantities.
Foods contain vitamin D only as it is absorbed from the sun's rays or from artificial irradiation. That is why doctors advise that babies and growing children receive vitamin D in some form regularly during the growing period.
We can acclaim the value of sunlight, but are we profiting by it in terms of maximum health and vitality, or are we "sun dodgers"?
True it is that our twentieth century mode of living has forced many to an indoor existence.
They leave the sunlit skies of open country, with its abundance of fresh air and sunshine and wholesome exercise, to work behind walls that close them off from the ideal pattern of life. Often the only means of light is an artificial system' and even if large windows do permit natural light, they still filter out the beneficial rays of the sun.
We know what happens to a plant that is shut away from the light. It soon becomes pale and sickly, and dies. Men, women, and children are like plants. They cannot live and thrive in darkened rooms. Sunless living is responsible for much of the disease in the world today. Caleb Saleby says, "Restoration of sunlight to our malurbanized millions, now blackened, bleached, and blighted in slums and smoke, is the next task of hygiene in our country."—Id., p. 15.
Divine hygienic instruction also substantiates this:
"If we would have our homes the abiding place of health and happiness, we must place them above the miasma and fog of the lowlands, and give free entrance to heaven's life-giving agencies."—Ministry of Healing, p. 275.
"Remove your heavy curtains, open the windows, throw back the blinds, and enjoy the rich sunlight, even if it be at the expense of the colors of your carpets."—Counsels on Health, p. 196.
"The sunlight may fade the drapery and the carpets, and tarnish the picture frames; but it will bring a healthy glow to the cheeks of the children."—Ministry of Healing, p. 275.
We should bask in "the light of heaven's great ultraviolet lamp" at every possible opportunity.
Regular sun baths taken two or three times a week during late spring, summer, and early fall will fortify the body to better endure the confinement which is sometimes necessary during the winter months. Utilize every day of sunshine. Let the baby have regular sun baths, send the children out to play in it, and arrange for invalids to absorb its rays. Sunlight is the greatest disinfectant we have. There is no better way to clean a room, even after communicable disease, than to wash it thoroughly with soap and water and expose it to the direct rays of the sun.
Sunlight not only increases the red blood cells and their hemoglobin content, but it also increases the white blood cells and antibodies—the chief body defenders against infection. "At Cornell University it was observed that treating students with ultraviolet rays reduced liability to colds 40 percent in those particularly susceptible to colds."—TV. W. Krueger, Fundamentals of Personal Hygiene, pp. 201, 202.
Sunlight is a powerful force, and it must be used with discretion even in the promotion of health, because it is capable of doing harm as well as good when carried to excess. In the actual treatment of disease, the use of sunlight must always be under the direction of a physician.
Do you know at what season of the year we have the highest death rate? It is in March, which is preceded by the long winter months in which there is very little sunshine, and in which physical forces are at lowest ebb. On the other hand, the lowest death rate of the year is in September. That month is preceded by the long clear summer days during which the human race has built up its vitality by maximum amounts of vitamin D. An old proverb rightly has it, "Where the sun enters, the doctor does not."
"Come out in the sunshine! 0 gather its wealth! There's joy in the sunshine, and beauty and HEALTH. Why stay in the shadow? Why weep in the gloom? Come out in the sunshine, and let your soul bloom."
Campbell, L. D.: Decalogue of Health, Pacific Press, Mountain View, California, 1936.
Krueger, W. W.: Fundamentals of Personal Hygiene, W. B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, 1941, 3d ed., revised.
Life and Health Library, No. 1, Review and Flerald, Takoma Park, D. C.
White, E. G.: Counsels on Health, Pacific Press ; Ministry of Healing, Pacific Press ; Principles of True Science, College Press, Takoma Park, D. C.
William, J. F. : Personal Hygiene Applied, W. B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, 1937, 6th ed., revised.