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The arrival of incandescent lamps and other electric sources of light at the beginning of the 20th century paved the way for medical treatments that, if no replacement, at least formed a welcome
of all times
It is undisputed that a strong relation exists between the sun and our health. The human race can not survive without light and warmth and the sun is the main supplier of both. Ever since our earliest history we honour the sun as a source of life,
fertility and healing. It is assumed that already the old Egyptians build structures that allowed the entrance of filtered light for treatment of some specific diseases and some 2500 years ago it was Hippocrates of Kos who, during his lessons in medicine, explicitly mentioned the sun as a beneficial source of healing. Nowadays the offer of light-, infrared and ultraviolet therapies is extensive but that has not always been the case...
a token of poverty
At archeologic excavations around the Mediterranean it is not uncommon to come across the remains of Roman solaria or, as the Greek called them, helioses, especially on the houses of the better
situated in the classic world. Houses with galleries that were situated in such a way that a place in the sun was easy to find, were another a clear sign that the beneficial use of sunlight was common to their former habitants. From the Middle Ages on however, a change in life-style with regard to sunlight could be noticed. More and more a sun-tanned
skin became associated with poverty and harsh labour and a white, untainted skin became the hallmark of the upper class. Ultimately even unnatural tricks were applied to obtain this sign of prosperity.
In the 17th and 18th century for instance, it was customary for women as well as men to powder their faces with a white blend of carbon dioxide salt and lead oxide which in many cases finally caused serious lead poisoning. In the 19th century the lead oxide eventually was replaced by the less dangerous zinc oxide but at the same time the hype of avoiding the sun became greater than ever. Sunlight was shut out from the houses, women were kept out from the sun and even the practice of drinking vinegar as a way to obtain a distinguished
paleness was not uncommon. The finishing touch was to be found in thin blue lines of make-up that gave the impression of veins shining through a pale skin.
a token of prosperity
The end of the 19th century marked the beginning of a period in which numerous inventions and discoveries caused a significant change in medical insights. A change of view on hygiene and the self-healing capabilities of nature resulted in an ever-increasing
popularity of treatments by natural remedies while the introduction of electricity offered the opportunities to assist nature were necessary. Well known are the papers and sanatoria of Friedrich Eduard Bilz, according who a combination of treatments with sun-, water- and fresh air formed a remedy against a diversity of diseases. But also in medical science an aimed exposure to natural sunshine (helio therapy) was accepted as an effective method of treatment for diseases like bone- and lung tuberculosis and rachitis or rickets. The treatments were carried
out in sanatoria on the beach or in the mountains and step by step
the sun-tanned face lost his image of poverty. When finally the leading fashion designer Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel in 1926 returned from a holiday with an obvious tanned skin, the turnaround was complete and men and women of all classes of society indulged themselves with sun bathing. In the years before WWII the interest in natural sunlight reached a
temporary climax in the form of sun bathing, open-air schools and UV transparent windows. In the second half of the 20th century the trend was towards frequent and long lasting sun bathing, completed with an intensive artificial UV-treatment during the winter period. When it became clear however that an excessive exposure to UV-
addition to traditional sun bathing. The first domestic applications were basically incandescent lamps and gas discharge lamps, sometimes optimised for an increased yield of infrared- or ultraviolet radiation. Further developments led to a range of more or less specific sun substitutes. The positive influence attributed to these sun substitutes on
body and mind is comprehensive and the degree of scientific evidence is very diverged. Only a few however, shall deny the positive influence of a certain amount of natural or artificial sunlight on some specific diseases and light-, infrared- and ultraviolet therapies have rendered their service over the years.
radiation also contained a serious risk for developing skin cancer, the hype ceased somewhat.
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The overview of acknowledged- or supposed healing radiation as listed below is indicative and incomplete. Consult your physician or at least read the instruction manual of your light source, your heat-lamp or your sun-lamp carefully before deciding to apply it for any therapeutic purpose.
1450, 1320 and 1064 nm
1400 - 1000 nm
1000 - 800 nm
1064 - 488 nm
780 - 620 nm
700 - 670 nm
670 - 650 nm
700 - 640 nm
and blood circulation.
640 - 600 nm
600 - 555 nm
555 - 485 nm
affords mental relief.
485 - 430 nm
595 - 585 nm
485 - 460 nm
460 - 455 nm
420 - 405 nm
400 - 320 nm
320 - 290 nm
337 - 126 nm