Light therapy or phototherapy (classically referred to as heliotherapy) consists of exposure to daylight or to specific wavelengths of light using lasers, light-emitting diodes, fluorescent lamps, dichroic lamps or very bright, full-spectrum light, usually controlled with various devices. The light is administered for a prescribed amount of time
What is Heliotherapy?
Heliotherapy is the treatment of disease by exposing the body to sunlight.
A method of treating illness by exposure to the rays of sun.
Heliotherapy (also called climatotherapy) makes simple use of intentional direct exposure to natural sunlight to get the therapeutic benefits of the included ultraviolet radiation.
oThe use of heliotherapy began a long time ago when it was used in India, China and Egypt to treat diseases, including psoriasis.
Sun light is so called Electro Magnetic radiation – Energy of many different wavelengths emitted by the Sun. Such energy provides us with the heat and light we need, as well as, delivering damaging UV rays.
In addition to UV, Visible light & IR, Sunlight is composed of a host of other solar rays such as cosmic rays, gamma rays, x-rays, radio-frequency radiation; but these are present in too small quantities and have too low energy to affect our skin.
Electro – Magnetic Radiation
Cosmic Rays/ Gamma Rays/ X-Rays : Dangerous and potentially cancer producing but penetrates to earth only in significant amount. X-rays are used artificially in medicinal diagnosis
UV Radiation : Causes short & long term damage to exposed living matter, particularly causing in humans- sun burn, photo-aging and skin cancers.
Visible Light : Allows us to see, enables plants to create food molecules; lifts human mood-photophobia)
IR Radiation : Warms our bodies.
Radio-frequency Radiation : Has no known significant effect.
Why Sunlight is Important?
The energy from sunlight has been essential for the evolution of life on earth. Without sunlight human beings, plants and animals cannot survive.
Visible light needed for photosynthesis (through food chain)
IR light gives warmth, which we need to live
- all ages and both genders.
- Early morning and evening sun bath is the best.
- Bright sunlight is not advisable.
- 10 minutes to 15 minutes of daily exposure to sunlight is useful
Drink sufficient amount of water before sunbath and if needed during sun bath.
Heliotherapy has been used for:
Acne, psoriasis and other skin disorders
Muscular stimulation and relaxation
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Reducing body odor
Boosting the body’s immune system for the treatment of AIDS
Reducing bacteria count by as much as 50% from infections
Decontaminating blood transfusions
Irradiating the blood of cancer patients
Hyperbilirubinemia (neonatal jaundice)
One Research revealed that in,
Bright light therapy may ease Parkinson’s disease by reducing patients’ tremors.
Also in Alzheimer’s disease positive impact of light therapy on overall cognitive function is found.
Types of Sun Bath
1.General Sun Bath (Direct Sun Bath)
This type of Sunbath is popular in Western countries. They practice in seashore and on the banks of Rivers.
This bath should be taken after 1 to 2 hrs of sun rise with minimal clothing.
Lie down on the sand of seashore (or) lie down on bed sheet.
Before taking Sun bath drink sufficient amount of Water.
2. Indirect Sun Bath
Same way as General Sun bath, but in this type the whole body should be covered with thin white cotton clothes.
3. Localized Sun Bath
In this type exposure of Sun to positive area of the body for treatment, other parts of the body covered by a wet sheet. It is effective in respiratory diseases and neonatal jaundice.
4.Plantain Leaf Bath / Banana Leaf Sun Bath
Same as General Sun Bath, the body is covered with banana leaves and then exposed to sunlight.
Techniques Of heliotherpy:
This treatment is based on a photo-sensitive liquid that is injected to the body. this liquid is attached to the unhealthy cells of the body. When it is exposed from outside to strong light it become solid, and thus it kills the unhealthy cells.
The production of the hormone melatonin, a sleep regulator, is inhibited by light and permitted by darkness as registered by photosensitive ganglion cells in the retina.
During treatment, the patient’s eyes are to be at a prescribed distance from the light source with the light striking the retina. This does not require looking directly into the light.
Indications for Heliotherapy:
Common use of heliotherapy is associated with the treatment of skin disorders mainly psoriasis, sleep disorder and some psychiatric disorders.
Light therapy directed at the skin is also used to treat acne vulgaris, eczema and neonatal jaundice.
Light therapy which strikes the retina of the eyes is used to treat circadian rhythm disorders such as delayed sleep phase syndrome.
The sun has a broad immune-boosting effect.
It stimulates our pituitary gland – the master switch of our endocrine system. This produces hormones which determine the strength and speed of our body’s immune responses.
Beat depression and insomnia:
Beat depression and insomnia:
Our pineal gland controls our sleep/wake cycles by secreting the hormone melatonin which stimulates our body to sleep.
Many people need more sleep and are prone to depression especially during the winter because of increased melatonin production.
Sunlight keeps us awake by inhibiting melatonin production
Better sleep and a sunny day naturally enhance energy levels. For the same reasons people tend to sleep more in winter – increased melatonin – lack of sunlight makes us drowsy throughout.
Treatment of osteomalacia:
Osteomalacia is the softening of the bones caused by defective bone mineralization as vit D plays good role in bone mineralization.
Vitamin D is also needed for bone health. It stimulates and enhances absorption of calcium from our diet into our bones.
as it is mainly due to deficiency of vit D so it is treated with heliotherapy
To treat skin disorders:
psorasis and acne vulgaris are treated by light therapy because it increases the immune response.
reduces muscle spasm by improving circulation and promote relaxation due to heat of light therapy.
NEONATAL JAUNDICE :
- also known as hyperbilirubinemia
- heliotherapy is used to treat this because it breaks the bilirubin and maintain its normal amount.
Eczema Acne vulgaris
Contraindications for Heliotherapy:
There are few absolute contraindications to light therapy which are as follows.
(2)disorders predisposing to sun-induced cancers.
Systemic lupus erythmatosis:
because it is auto immune disease that can damage tissues of any part of body and this is treated by immunosuppressant as heliotherapy promotes immune response so contraindicated.
anti biotic and anti-inflammatory drugs increases the photosensitivity so contraindicated if person taking these medicines
because light will disturb the eye that is effected and heat can cause burn to diseased eye.
Risk Factors for Heliotherapy:
Ultraviolet light causes progressive damage to human skin. This is mediated by genetic damage, collagen damage, as well as destruction of vitamin A and vitamin C in the skin and free radical generation.
Ultraviolet light is also known to be a factor in formation of cataracts.
Side effects of light therapy for sleep phase disorders include jumpiness or jitteriness, headache, and nausea.
Some non depressive physical complaints (such as poor vision and skin rash or irritation) may improve with light therapy.
The same invisible ultraviolet radiation that treats psoriasis is also responsible for many undesirable skin changes as well. These same wavelengths of light can also cause skin aging, wrinkling, tanning, burning and skin cancer.