Sunshine as medicine (it’s not just the vitamin D!)
My mind was blown by this You Tube clip with new science on the massive benefits of sunlight exposure for viral infections & pretty much EVERYTHING ELSE (warning, it’s about 2 hrs long, & probably only of interest if you have some basic training on how the body works & love your science).
I’ll summarise it quickly here - but highly recommend a listen if you’re a science / nature / health geek too! I felt so compelled to get some extra sun that I actually moved out into the warehouse carpark to listen to it / write this blog! It’s mainly about ‘Near Infrared Radiation’ (NIR) & intracellular Melatonin production - which are super relevant for any type of inflammation, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, hypertension, MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s…you name it, sunshine is medicine for it. Yes, even skin cancers (will explain more later - you can keep your hat on!) READ ON
Sunshine = Melatonin = Medicine: Regular, controlled sun exposure is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, because it stimulates the production of melatonin in your mitochondria. We used to think that melatonin was only produced in our brains, by the pineal gland, to circulate in our bloodstream & help put us to sleep at night time. That’s true, & a good sleep is HIGHLY medicinal, but it turns out that’s only a small part of what melatonin does for us! 95% of our melatonin is used in our cells to fight inflammation & oxidative stress!
Intracellular Melatonin: When we spend time outdoors & are exposed to ‘Near Infrared Radiation’ (NIR) from the sun, our body produces melatonin inside the energy centres of our cells (the mitochondria), & this acts as a powerful antioxidant to mop up free radical damage, calm inflammation & heal damage. Amazing. And free!! And only good side effects providing you don’t get burnt!
Sunshine For Covid and other viral infections: When assisting recovery, the main focus is on anti-inflammatory & antioxidant support. Supplements like NAC, resveretrol, astaxanthin etc are great, but Melatonin also covers these actions beautifully. And sunshine exposure ramps up our Melatonin production! Many of the vitamin D studies showing worse Covid outcomes in lower sun areas / winter vs summer, are likely not just about the vitamin D, they will also be reflecting the anti-inflammatory & anti-oxidant benefits derived from NIR.
How To Use Sunshine As Medicine:
- Get up as early as you can & get sunlight straight away (this helps to set your circadian rhythm into a good pattern for sleeping well & feeling energised through the day, staying metabolically healthy). If there is no sun where you live - you can buy a ‘dawn simulation light’ or an SAD light to use. You’ll feel sooo much better mentally-emotionally from morning exercise too (the light & the actual movement).
- Spend time in sunlit ‘green spaces’ whenever you can, ie out in parks, fields, in nature. Get out of the concrete jungle if that’s where you spend most of your time. Take up gardening, hiking, lawn bowls…even mowing the lawn! Anything outdoors in the sun with plants! Plants like grass & trees actually radiate NIR up towards us very effectively, so even sitting outdoors in the shade of a tree on the lawn is AMAZING for the NIR health benefits. Sickly / elderly folks will benefit immensely from being wheeled outdoors under a tree (don’t let them burn or get hot / cold obviously)! Back in the ‘old days’, before much was known about the immune system & sickness, they knew from observation that sun was highly beneficial for patients - google images for ‘outdoor hospital beds’ or ’Tuberculosis sunshine’ etc.
- You can wear clothes in the sun if you’re worried about skin damage / have a history of skin cancer. You won’t get much vitamin D that way, but you’ll still get NIR & all the benefits from intracellular melatonin production, even through your layers. If you can feel the warmth coming through your clothing, you know the NIR is penetrating into you & that melatonin is being produced. NIR can apparently penetrate into our body to a thickness of between 1 & 8cm, so even your bones & organs can benefit from more than just vitamin D! Note - obesity makes it trickier for NIR from the sun to penetrate as deeply (extra insulation to get through), but being overweight means inflammation is going on in your body, so DEFINITELY, get regular sunshine to assist with weightloss from an anti-inflammatory / anti-oxidant / metabolic support point of view. No diet or exercise involved weightloss support strategy! You’re welcome :)
- If you have been for a really tough workout or have sore muscles, get some sun (better still, do it before you actually start to feel sore). Melatonin can help mop up all those free radicals generated from intense activity / raised metabolism. Don’t get burnt though, or you’ll just add to the free radical damage load! Same with when you are sick - get sun if your body feels like it, but don’t burn.
So…move to the country (somewhere nice & green, close to the equator), take up gardening & nature walking, take sun bathing breaks & regular beach holidays…..or at the very least, if none of that is possible for you, make a point to go outside on your lunch break & on your days off! Get some sun! We are designed to spend a LOT more time outdoors than we currently do, our bodies thrive in the sun!
Get your device addicted kids to at least migrate outdoors, even if you can’t actually prise the thing from their hands! Getting out in the sun is now always on my list of ‘how to get healthier,' but now it’s definitely moved up a few places!!
If this article resonated, you may be interested in these anti-oxidant / anti-inflammatory products:
Astaxanthin - all round antioxidant / anti-inflammatory protection, studied with promising results for covid recovery support / minimising severity, also specific for skin, muscle, joints, connective tissue.
DefenCell - all round antioxidant / anti-inflammatory protection formula, sulphorophane + supportive co-factors, sulphorophane has been studied / is relevant for covid recovery.
Rest - gentle formula to help support falling asleep & staying asleep, contains homeopathic melatonin, GABA, 5HTP.