Healing Sunshine – Sunbathing
From time immemorial, people knew that sunlight was both a healer and a reliable ally in the fight against disease. Widely used the rays of the sun as a tonic in ancient Hellas. The largest sports competitions of antiquity – the Olympic Games – were held, as a rule, in the hottest summer months. Exactly at noon, when the sun burned unbearably, the tanned athletes went to the start. They performed naked and had no right to cover their heads for protection from the scorching rays of the sun.
Hardening by the sun has become even more widespread in ancient Rome. As the excavations of the Roman cities showed, literally everywhere: on the roofs of houses, in baths, in gladiator schools – solariums were arranged – places for sunbathing. In the Roman Empire, special climatic stations were created, intended for sun-treatment. Patients were sent here to receive the necessary healing procedures.
The effect of magical ultraviolet rays on the body is unequal and depends on the wavelength. Some of them have a vitamin-forming effect – they contribute to the formation of vitamin D in the skin, the insufficiency of which causes a violation of calcium-phosphorus metabolism in the body, leads to the disease of children with rickets.
Others have a so-called erythema and pigment effect, i.e. they cause on the skin the formation of erythema (redness) and pigment causing tan. The shortest ultraviolet rays have a bactericidal effect that kills microbes.
Consider both. Ultraviolet rays are very sensitive to various kinds of obstacles. So, one layer of gauze holds up to 50% of all ultraviolet rays.
Gauze, folded in four, as well as window glass with a thickness of 2 mm, completely excludes their penetration.
When irradiated by the sun, part of its rays are reflected by the skin, the other part penetrates deep into and has a thermal effect. Infrared rays can penetrate the body by 5-6 cm, visible rays – by a few millimeters, and ultraviolet rays – only by 0.2-0.4 mm.
Sunlight has a truly amazing healing power. Its rays, primarily ultraviolet, act on the neuro-receptor apparatus of the skin and cause complex chemical transformations in the body. Under the influence of radiation, the tone of the central nervous system increases, the metabolism and blood composition improves, and the activity of the endocrine glands is activated. All this has a beneficial effect on the general condition of the person. Sunlight, moreover, has a detrimental effect on pathogenic microbes. Danish physiotherapist N. Finsen in 1903 used the sun’s rays to treat skin tuberculosis. For these studies he was awarded the Nobel Prize.
We must not forget that the positive effect of sunlight on the body is manifested only with certain doses of solar radiation. Overdose can cause irreparable harm – cause serious disorders of the nervous, cardiovascular and other vital systems of the body.
The most common reason for the abuse of the sun – the desire as quickly as possible and stronger tan, to get a beautiful skin color. Many believe that the darker the tan, the higher the biological effect of hardening by the sun. However, it is not. Sunburn is only one of the responses to exposure to sunlight, and it would be wrong to judge from it the general health effects of radiant energy on a person.
The skin darkens as a result of solar radiation because a special coloring matter, melanin, is deposited in it. There is always a small amount of this pigment in the skin. The enhanced formation of melanin occurs not only under the influence of ultraviolet rays, but also under the action of infrared radiation. Everyone knows that as a result of prolonged use of the heating pad, the skin darkens. Consequently, the formation of sunburn during solar irradiation also occurs due to the action of infrared rays. In addition, it has now been established that the healing effect of solar radiation is already manifested at such doses that do not cause intense pigmentation.
When hardening by sunlight it is necessary to ensure that the load increases gradually. They begin sunbathing with reflected solar radiation, then gradually move to scattered light baths and, finally, use direct solar radiation. Such a sequence is especially necessary for children and those who do not tolerate the sun.
Sunbathing is best taken in the morning when the earth and the air are less heated and the heat is transferred much more easily. In the middle of the day, the sun’s rays fall more steeply and, naturally, the danger of overheating of the body increases. In the summer in the southern regions of our country it is better to sunbathe from 7 to 10 hours, in the middle zone – from 8 to 11 hours, in the north – from 9 to 12 hours. In spring and autumn, the best time for sunbathing is from 11 to 14 hours