Sunlight is possibly the most powerful natural broad spectrum drug.
The medical doctor and author, Dr. Auguste Rollier, was the most famous heliotherapist of his day. At his peak, he operated 36 clinics with over 1,000 beds in Leysin, Switzerland. His clinics were situated 5,000 feet above sea level.
The intensity of ultraviolet light increases by 4 percent for every 1000 feet of elevation above sea level. So at 5000 feet, the sun’s UV intensity is increased by a whole 20 percent. The strategically placed clinics allowed his patients to catch a lot more UV light. Dr. Rollier used this UV light to treat diseases such as tuberculosis (TB), rickets, smallpox, lupus vulgaris (skin tuberculosis), and wounds.
He followed in the footsteps of the Danish physician Dr. Niels Finsen, who won the Nobel Prize in 1903 for his treatment of TB using ultraviolet light. In a span of 20 years, more than 2,000 cases of surgical (bone and joint) tuberculosis were treated, and more than 80% were discharged as cured at Dr. Rollier’s clinics.
Rollier found that sunbathing early in the morning, in conjunction with a nutritious diet, produced the best effects. The patients (many of them children) were gradually exposed to the sun’s rays until the whole body could be bared. In winter the whole day could be spent in the sunshine and dry, cold air. In summer however, exposure was limited to the morning hours only.
More than 100,000 lives were lost each year from tuberculosis, the ‘White Plague’, as it was then called. The miraculous complete cures of tuberculosis and many other diseases made headlines at that time.
What surprised the medical community most was the fact that the sun’s healing rays remained ineffective if the patients wore sunglasses. [Sunglasses block out important rays of the light spectrum which the body requires for essential biological functions. Note: your eyes receive these rays even if you are in the shade] By the year 1933, there were over 165 different diseases for which sunlight proved to be a beneficial treatment.
However, with the death of Rollier in 1954 and the growing dominance of the pharmaceutical industry, heliotherapy sadly fell into disuse. The gentle effectiveness of cure by sunlight was ignored and soon forgotten.
By the 1960s, manmade ‘miracle drugs’ had replaced the medical fraternity’s fascination with the sun’s healing powers. By the 1980s the public was increasingly bombarded with warnings about sun-bathing and the risks of skin cancer from exposure to sun. People were alarmed and even terrorized by the strong lobby of the sunscreen industry that put financial gains far above social health and wellbeing.
Today, the sun is considered the main culprit precipitating skin cancer, certain cataracts leading to blindness, and aging of the skin. Only those who take the ‘risk’ of exposing themselves to sunlight find that the sun actually makes them feel better, provided they do not use sunscreens or burn their skin by way of overexposure.