…the cold, hard truth.
Without the sun, there would be no life. The sun is a cosmic catalyst that gives life to nature, we are nature, the universe experiencing itself. Solar rays renew green leaves to transform carbon dioxide into oxygen. Sunlight ripens fruit, guides the growth of trees, sustains the life of soil, sends messages to the petals to close at dusk and awaken at dawn beyond the design of human time. Sunlight induces and maintains muscle tone, oxygenates the blood, and penetrates into the deep layers of our skin, cells, bones and soul, enhancing the quality of flow of energy through the body through merging with the vibrational field and evoking the juice of life.
Sunlight is medicine; what we evolved and coexisted with, way before carcinogenic sunscreens and excessively toxic, solitary, stagnant indoor lifestyles with widespread vitamin D deficiency came into fruition in the past 100 or so years along with a modern day, twisted fear of the sun. Safe sunlight exposure is the easiest, cheapest and simplest way to improve the quality of your life.
Ancient Egyptians raised newborns to greet the sun’s rays and shaved their heads from childhood to be indurated by the action of the sun while ancient Greeks embraced the benefits of heliosis with the sun regarded as a divine power. Therapeutic sun exposure via sunbathing and sungazing at specific times has been a cost-free, guru-free practice throughout several cultures including Mayan, Aztec, Egyptian, Native American, Greek, Tibetan, and Yogic and Daoist philosophy, with many people practicing today to reap the sunlight benefits.
Ancient Romans considered sun exposure so important that they had right-to-sunlight legislation, solariums on their homes, famous open air Roman baths, and sunning terraces in their cities (there were no windows in primitive Roman houses so all natural light and fresh air poured in via an opening in the ceiling). The original Olympic athletes were required to sunbathe to let the sun strengthen their muscles and nerves. More than 2,000 years ago, Herodotus the Greek historian linked sunlight deprivation to brittle bones and wrote that the “sun feeds muscles”. Even Diogenes the Cynic enjoyed sunbathing!
Ancient physicians affirmed sunlight to be the “best food and medicine” in the world. Modern microbiologists advocate the sun as the best disinfectant (and let me tell you, line drying laundry out in the sun in Canada to remove stains and smells changed my life). Hopefully you’ve also noticed that our animal friends also instinctively seek the sun.
Swiss heliotherapy pioneer Dr. Auguste Rollier along with 1903 Nobel Prize winner Dr. Niels Finsen experienced, observed and applied the healing properties of natural light. Rollier built solaria hospitals in the fresh air of the Swiss Alps with walls of windows, southern balconies, and retractable roofs to maximize his patients’ exposure to the sun (especially morning sun) on their bare bodies. Even in the winter, the whole day could be spent in the sunshine. In the summer, exposure was limited to morning hours until solar noon. After a few weeks, patients were usually well enough to go home with the added benefit of a natural, glowing tan, but this was ineffective if the patients wore sunglasses as they disrupt the sun’s dialogue with the cells and retinas. He pointed out that every mother is careful to put potted plants out into the sun—why not also the children?
Not only does sunlight have a great impact on the psyche, but the nutrients and cascading physiological processes created from the sun on bare skin go far beyond just the benefits of bioavailable vitamin D.
We have forgotten our innate invocation for cosmic pollination with the arousal of blood, hormones and skin by the warm wavelengths of creation, igniting the deep layers of our skin, hormonal secretions, and our cells, animating our vitality and energizing T cells central to innate human immunity, right down to the marrow of our bones.
Our bodies and bones need the sun, and our skin is literally designed for sunlight. When you devote more energy towards the sun, giving this relationship and communion the time and energy it deserves, you experience a union with the divinity of life, reaping the benefits of life’s most rewarding exchanges.
“…BUT WAIT. WHAT ABOUT SKIN CANCER?”
The catch is, sunburns can cause skin cancer, but natural sun exposure itself doesn’t inherently cause skin cancer. Several studies have confirmed that appropriate and careful sun exposure actually helps prevent skin cancer.
There is no doubt that skin can be vulnerable to sunburn, and repeated sunburns cause damage and raise your risk. When we work with our environment and lifestyle rather than against it, we can gradually build our personal tolerance to sun exposure to reap its benefits, including the REDUCED risk of many other major cancers. A study found that occupational sun exposure (outdoor workers who spend lots of time in the sun on a regular, consistent basis) is actually associated with lower rates of melanoma than people who work indoors.
Those with the greatest risk of melanoma are not those with the greatest cumulative sun exposure. One study found that malignant melanoma is far less likely for adults and children who work and play outside. Another study showed that melanoma is far more common for those who work indoors, especially on covered parts of the body. Dr. Bernard Ackerman, the founding father of the field of dermatopathology (the study of skin diseases) substantiated that “there is no proof whatsoever that sun exposure causes melanoma.” Our skin is designed to be (wisely) exposed to the sun’s rays in a cosmic relationship, an energy exchange offering revitalizing, illuminating nourishment for bodily functions.
A 1982 study at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine published by The Lancet demonstrated that fluorescent light exposure from indoor work creates twice the incidence of melanoma than outdoor work in the sun. Office workers exposed to high levels of artificial lighting during the day with minimal exposure to sunlight had the highest risk of developing melanomas and mutations in their cells. Lack of sunlight and our culture’s epidemic lack of vitamin D3 are linked to cancer in more than 2,500 studies.
The sun was embraced for a few decades at the turn of the century, but the days of sunshine being the arbiter of health and healing waned with the onslaught of the Industrial Revolution and in our current culture’s consumption of sunscreen. Most Westerners and those in industrial modern societies spend 97% of their day indoors, driven by patterns of fear, self sabotage, atomization and separation, void of natural light, bathed by artificial blue light, permeated by nnEMF, eating a diet high in unfiltered tap water, deep fried pesticides, fake meat and antibiotics, fortified (with unbound toxic iron filings that accumulate in your organs and tissues if you’re in the US, UK, or any country with iron fortification programs in place), hybridized (hyper gluten) modern wheat, and industrial rancid carcinogenic PUFA seed and vegetable oils, but low in nutrition, while not moving enough, sleeping enough or having enough fun.
The sun has come to have been demonized by doctors, dermatologists, authority figures, skincare corporations, the media, society, and parents alike—for good reason in this context. To add insult to injury, in pursuit of “healthy, beautiful” skin, people avoid the sun while conditioned with the fear of wrinkles and inject fillers into faces, apply chemicals to acne, spraying on fake tans filled with DNA damaging dihydroxyacetone, and even going to toxic tanning beds. Don’t even get me started on nasty skin whitening creams and sunscreens! All of this is also a precursor to common modern and chronic conditions that can be reduced and managed with the appropriate consciousness.
Could a lack of sunlight actually be the bigger health concern? We’re always trying to take it back to our ancestral health, and without a doubt they had cultivated a thriving relationship with nature and the sun, without chemical sunscreen or many of the modern factors involved.
Let the sun shine in
Sol est remediorum maximum.
The sun is the very best remedy.Pliny the Elder
This will be difficult for some to grasp, but the sun is actually good for your health. Vital, even. In fact, insufficient sun exposure has become a real public health problem. It is a travesty that fear is preventing modern people from reaping countless and unfathomable sunlight benefits, and even from having more fun than they could ever imagine, even into older age. This isn’t to say that we should all immediately go nude at the beach from 10 am-2 pm at solar noon, though if we are wise and prudent, we can enjoy a healthy and happy relationship with sunlight benefits, our ancient friend.
Exposing your bare skin and face/eyes to natural morning sunlight consistently is actually non-negotiable. The skin is a solar powered battery.It modulates your genes, informs your DNA, programs your circadian rhythm, and informs our physical bodies in ways not yet completely understood by science. Indeed, sunlight definitely can play a role in causing skin cancer through sunburns, but it isn’t so black and white; safe and conscientious sun exposure actually reduces skin cancer and many other cancers. It is true that our skin can be vulnerable to sunburns and visible damage, yet our interaction with the sun doesn’t have to be “all or none”.
Safe and conscientious exposure to sunlight also reduces risk for many other types of cancer, heart disease, and many other health issues including hyperinsulinemia, leaky gut, impaired mitochondria, and not enough protein/muscle mass. Safe and conscientious sun exposure has a dramatic impact on many aspects of health, and even has positive effects on the microbiome according to the Crimean Medical Institute and the Crimean Observatory. We likely have yet to discover many other ways that energy cycles in the solar system affect life on earth.
Sunlight facilitates cholesterol sulfate on bare skin that is essential for the health of all cells; it’s required for healthy hormone function, to downregulate inflammation in the brain, and to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Cholesterol sulfate supplies oxygen, sulfur, cholesterol, energy, and a negative charge to all tissues. Sulfate is synthesised from sulfide in skin and red blood cells utilizing energy in sunlight. Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase (eNOS) performs the magic, the skin is a solar powered battery.
Sunlight also helps the skin produce vitamin D3 sulfate. Sulfur, cholesterol, and the vitamin D produced in our skin from sun exposure protect our DNA from radiation damage that contributes to cancer and are necessary for maintaining optimal cellular health. Sulfur and cholesterol become oxidized upon exposure to high frequency rays in sunlight, acting as antioxidants to take the heat.
Vitamin D3 from man-made oral supplements is unsulfured and fat-soluble, which is helpful, but isn’t bonded to sulfur to make vitamin D3 sulfate which is water soluble and moves freely in the bloodstream, providing a healthy barrier against bacteria. Vitamin D3 sulfate is synthesised in the skin where it forms a crucial part of the barrier that keeps out harmful bacteria and other microorganisms such as fungi. If we avoid the sun, we miss out on this natural protection.
90% of most people’s time is spent indoors where the air quality and chemical off-gassing of most materials exposes us to chemical and biological contaminants, allergens and carcinogens. Reports of indoor moulds and/or dampness are consistently associated with increased respiratory symptoms and a myriad of other issues. Typically, more time is spent indoors in very hot or cold climates (especially in snowy Canada here), and as a result, exposure to airborne substances is more closely related to indoor rather than outdoor pollution, and economically disadvantaged households tend to be more vulnerable to poor air quality from roadways and industry. This makes it so much more important to seek the sun, open your windows 24/7, experience the elements, and get outside! This crucial balance you can strike with the elements in a Daoist style health practice is accessible to anyone willing to pick it up.
I think it’s useful to check in and ask ourselves: why have skin cancer rates been increasing as people are spending more and more time indoors? The sun remains the same, but we sure have changed.
Skin cancer risk is increased by sunburn, not sun exposure in itself. As long as you don’t burn, your risk of skin cancer is not increased.
The Sunscreen Lie
Sunscreens are hazardous to both our health and the vitality of the oceans. They increase estrogenic activity, accumulate in fat tissue, generate free radicals, increase cellular damage, cause indirect DNA damage, absorb UVB rays but let most UVA through, block production of vitamin D, contain carcinogenic ingredients and toxins that inhibit the skin’s respiration cycle, and disable the skin’s warning system (sunburns). Sunscreens and sunglasses prevent the dialogue between the sun and our cells. There is no proof that sunscreens prevent basal cell carcinoma and no evidence that sunscreens prevent melanoma. Melanoma occurrence has been found to decrease with sun exposure, and increase with sunscreen use.
Health institutions, beauty corporations and the media have propagated the fear of sun exposure. UVB rays do cause burns after extended exposure to the sun, and synthetic suncreams do prevent sunburns. But SPF anesthetizes the skin by disabling our skin’s early warning protection—the sunburn—and creating a false sense of security against overexposure to the sun, allowing the undesired penetration of isolated UVA while UVB is blocked. (Receiving hours of direct sunlight through a window, for example when driving, separates the UVB and overexposes skin to UVA. Many drivers have one arm more freckled than the other, or more wrinkles on the side of the face closest to the window.)
- Conventional sunscreen is problematic because it prevents the creation of vitamin D. Despite being in the sun, many of the sun’s benefits are nulled due to the cream blocking out the sun’s UVB rays necessary for creating vitamin D.
- Conventional sunscreens only block UVB and not UVA rays. UVB rays are most notorious for causing skin cancer, sun damage, and sunburns. However, over the long term, this creates an imbalance (of UVA to UVB) with chronic exposure to UVA rays which also causes cancer. Sunscreens end up creating a whole new mechanism through which humans develop sun related cancers. Current studies suggest that isolated UVA damages DNA.
- Conventional sunscreens are a cocktail of carcinogenic, cancer-causing chemicals which get absorbed directly into the bloodstream and accumulate in your tissues and organs—amplified when you go out in the sun that opens up the pores so you can sweat in the heat, increasing absorption of the chemicals even more while inhibiting the skin’s intelligence and cellular respiration process. These chemicals are now being recognized as agents that generate free-radicals and intensify dis-ease, altering cells and increasing carcinoma risk. They accumulate in our lipid layers and poison you with oxidized amino acids, xenoestrogens, and damage DNA.
It’s time to stop blaming the sun for what vegetable oils, toxic skincare, cosmetic and personal care products, tap water, sunscreen chemicals, unfiltered tap water, pesticides, inflammation, petroleum based clothing, blue light from technology, artificial light, mismatched circadian rhythms, poor sleep, nutritional deficiencies, carcinogenic indoor tanning beds, and compromised lipid barriers from toxic harsh personal care, chemical exfoliants, oversanitization, soaps and tap water did.
The most notoriously toxic sunscreen ingredients:
- Oxybenzone (a powerful free-radical generator that is actually non-carcinogenic until exposed to sunlight)
- Octinoxate (Octyl methoxycinnamate)
Our skin’s pores are like little portals into your bloodstream, tissues and organs, and these chemicals bake into our bodies as we soak up the sun. Applying conventional sunscreen on your skin means these toxins are entering directly into your bloodstream while blocking your skin’s ability to breathe, inhibiting the skin’s cellular respiration process from inhaling oxygen and exhaling toxins and carbon dioxide. Conventional and luxury makeup and skincare are certainly not exempt from this poisoning process: even worse if the makeup/skincare contains sunscreen. Additional toxicity occurs with spray can sunscreens which release these toxic compounds into the air, entering the lungs and affecting everyone around you.
Sunscreens cause indirect DNA damage responsible for mutations because the photons are not efficiently converted into harmless heat. This understanding led to new research like in the 2007 study at the University of California San Diego that reviewed 17 studies of sunscreen use and melanoma and concluded that there is a significant correlation between sunscreen use and skin cancer. Also, in 1998, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that children who were frequent users of sunscreens had a significantly higher chance of developing moles and freckles.
Studies also confirm that the synthetic sunscreen chemicals of oxybenzone, octinoxate, benzophenone, and butylparaben wash off swimmers’ skin in the water, killing and bleaching coral reefs. An estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen wash off annually into the world’s oceans, endangering the symbiosis of sea life. Studies also suggest that oxybenzone is an endocrine disrupter among marine animals such as shrimps and clams.
To receive that the Sun is giving us, we should have a relation to it…Beinsa Douno
Visit the Environmental Working Group website: EWG.org. You can type in your product or an individual ingredient, and they will clearly map out the potential health risks.
Benefits of safe sunlight exposure for health: it’s time to stop fearing the sun
Getting more sun daily with safe and responsible amounts of exposure while avoiding burns is the fastest, cost-free way to improve your health. We revere Mother Nature’s medicine chest (she just works). After a day outdoors, our hearts are expanded and we feel healthier.
There is a soaring rate of vitamin D deficiency in North America due to the fear of the sun: nearly 75% of teens and adults are vitamin D deficient and this has been rising over the past two decades. Lack of sunlight disturbs optimal cell growth, and research links a vast amount of health issues including multiple sclerosis, heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer to low levels of D which is designed to course through the body, facilitating various bodily functions.
Vitamin D repairs organs, boosts immunity, lowers insulin levels, reduces blood pressure, boosts neuromuscular function, and interacts with over 2,000 genes. The sun, via vitamin D, lets the cells know when it is time to die in a healthy process called apoptosis. Failure of apoptosis is one of the reasons behind cancerous tumour development, where cells pile up in a disorganized body system. Vitamin D along with vitamin K2 is essential for proper absorption of calcium and other minerals for the bones and teeth. It promotes efficient neuromuscular functioning and plays a role in anti-inflammatory processes. Thousands of vitamin D receptors are found on our skin and in almost every single cell and crevice of our body, including where the sun doesn’t shine, and when they’re brimming with the sunshine vitamin, this prevents the gene expression of countless ailments.
Sunlight benefits on bare skin go far beyond vitamin D and will most likely ease any suffering you might be experiencing.
- facilitates vitamin D hormone production (responsible for immune system functions)
- nitric oxide production (not only a messenger in the cardiovascular system and responsible for relaxation of vascular muscle but also involved in the innate immune system)
- cholesterol sulfate production
- circadian rhythm
- improves mood & sleep
- promotes weight loss
- supports bone health
- heals skin issues
- promotes eye health
- happy, balanced hormones
- balances cholesterol
- improves brain function
- makes serotonin and melatonin which regulates aging and reduces neurodegeneration through energy metabolism, epigenetics, autophagy and circadian rhythm pathways
- drastic impact on dopamine function, increases dopamine
- lowers blood pressure
- lowers blood sugar
- regulates basal metabolic rate
- benefits thyroid
- repairs DNA, optimizes gene expression
- improves oxygenation
- decreases lactic acid, lowers blood glucose
- insulin metabolism
- supports neurogenesis
- proper central nervous system function
- classic effects on calcium and bone homeostasis, including teeth remineralization with the aid of consumption of raw organic grass fed milk, cheese, and grass fed and finished, pasture raised bone broth
- the ultimate skincare
- reduces risk of type 2 diabetes
- prevents/reduces seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — I have experienced the benefits myself
- ameliorates symptoms of Alzheimer’s
- improves the way you process energy and food; digestion
- stimulates mitochondrial light conversion to energy when working out
- improves immune system; boosts and regenerates immunity
- organizes our biochemical processes
- increases muscle tone
- relaxes nerves
- increases oxygen of blood and tissues
- supports eye health
- reverses mitochondrial dysfunction
- antiseptic against pathogenic bacteria
- necessary for normal cell division
- positive impact on the gut microbiome
- reduces cancer risk (yes, you read that right: reduces cancer risk)
- Sunlight specific: disinfectant and antiseptic, produces essential cholesterol sulfate, produces vitamin D3 sulfate, fills the vitamin D receptors in our skin and almost every cell of our body with essential vitamin D3
Sunlight benefits for health throughout the day
Properly aired and sunlit, skin becomes velvety, supple tissue, absolutely immune from anything of the nature of pimples, acne, and incapable of infection. Sunshine is the finest cosmetic. Skin, well-pigmented in response to sun-bathing, becomes firm and strong, but at the same time delicate and soft. Followed by a filling out of the exposed skin and a smoothing away of wrinkles results from sunbathing. Increased beauty is the outcome.—Sunlight and Health, written by an English physician in 1929
Still not convinced? Studies over the past 10-15 years have linked the timing of UV exposure to DNA repair and skin carcinogenesis and implicate a role for the body’s circadian clock in UV response and disease risk.
Sunlight on bare skin and reflecting into bare eyes, even on a cloudy day or in the shade, programs mitochondrial function and DNA, activates your immune system and hundreds of analogs in your physiology, and sets you up for an energized day and a deep restful sleep by informing your circadian rhythm.
All sunlight is 42% infrared light. Infrared light, along with cellular water, plays a vital part in charging your body and creating energy. This light stimulates collagen, increases bone healing and heals wounds, and is also why you may have seen so many people in the health and wellness realm doing infrared light therapy by basking under an indoor infrared light, such as a Joovv. I’m not into the concept of “anti-aging”, but this type of infrared light also reduces wrinkles and scars, and has improved my own skin texture.
I actually believe my early life propensity for tooth cavities (and therefore brittle bones) was caused by a severe lack of natural sunlight and depleted vitamin D in my own lifestyle—yep, I was truly a malnourished basement dweller who felt uncomfortable in my own skin, I know the shadow side quite intimately.
One of the most powerful health supportive recommendations I’ve discovered is to try to get up with the sunrise, watch it and expose your eyes, skin, and brain to the benefits of sunlight, directly exposed to the elements and nature. Morning sunlight is a must in your life. It can calibrate your biological clock, program your whole day, prepare your body for evening/night (circadian rhythm), prepare your body for UV light later in the day, wake you up better than coffee, boost serotonin (focus/mood), and help you manage or reverse any existing conditions. No supplement comes close.
Try to get outside as soon as possible after waking – the first light you see should not come from an artificial source such as a tech screen or lightbulb, it should be light from the sun! Sunrise is a great time for watering your garden barefoot and enjoying your favourite coffee, remineralized lemon water, or tonic herb beverage. Sunrise is great for your teeth, gums and muscles. “Downloading” morning sunlight through your bare skin and bare eyes changes your biochemistry – by simply being outdoors and looking at the light reflected off of objects, or looking at the sunrise in the sky.
Your eyes and skin are solar panels, and when you charge them correctly, you power your entire body. This early morning sunlight nourishes your brain, sets your circadian rhythm, activates certain hormones, preps your mitochondria, and activates your immune system through increased circulation of T-cells.
8-10 am (morning sun)
Morning sun (8-10 am) actually changes your brain in that infrared light from sunrise primes neurotransmitters and the immune system. Sunrise contains little to no UV (UVA rich sun), so expose as much skin to the morning sun as you can. I like to “charge” myself up in the morning sun as often as I can. Morning sun is probably the most important out of any time in the day when it comes to getting your dose of sunlight.
Catch enough infrared light early in the morning and you’re less likely to burn later in the day. Infrared light around sunrise plays a critical role in how we utilize sunrays found throughout the day and preconditions our skin to protect us from the UVA + UVB that comes out later around 10 am that is critical in making nitric oxide (a substance created from our nasal sinuses and exercise) which drastically increases mitochondrial energy, memory, and anti-aging, and lowers blood pressure by liberating the nitric oxide from your blood vessels. UVA light also triggers the production of serotonin and dopamine and releases endorphins along with a small opiate effect. The end result? You feel good and also have greater potential to sleep better later.
Exposing your bare eyes to morning light (no sunglasses or eyeglasses in the way) wakes up the cells. Sunglasses raise your blood glucose when outside in the sun, creates hypoxia in your retinas, and increases your ROS/RNS. They block out important rays of the light spectrum that the body requires for essential biological functions. Eyes do receive these rays even in the shade or under cloudy weather, but just not when wearing shades. Both sunscreen and sunglasses interfere with the dialogue between the sun and our cells. Try to use sunglasses only when absolutely necessary!
Solar noon is the time of the day when the sun is at its highest point in the sky at the time when the most UVB light reaches the area you’re in, making it easier to get in your vitamin D, vital for your innate immune system. Vitamin D is only generated by UVB rays, which come from the sky most powerfully at solar noon (during periods of the year when the sun is strong enough).
You can use an app like DMinder (free) to track how much vitamin D you are generating based on your location, how much skin is exposed, and the time of year. It can even estimate the time you can stay in the sun without getting a sunburn, but I would first and foremost pay close attention to how my body is feeling so I can seek cover based off of that. If you have more natural melanin, you generally need more time in the sun to generate vitamin D.
Go outside at solar noon briefly and soak up the sun on as much bare skin as possible, ensuring that you don’t burn, while building up your vitamin D levels. Currently, about 20 minutes as I write this in the summer is the maximum for me before I start to feel like it’s too much (I’ve gained a nice tan without burning this year). If you’re just beginning, even just 5 minutes may be enough. Always equip yourself with a wide brim hat, sun shirt, and spend the majority of the time in early morning and evening sun on hot summer days.
Solar noon/midday/afternoon is the time when you ought to be most careful. Your personal tolerance is as much as you can get without burning. If skin starts to feel warm, immediately seek shade.
Get outside even briefly in the afternoon for the fresh air and bright outdoor sunlight to your face. Even the shade is brighter than inside your house or workplace and the sunlight, no matter how diluted, will act as a wireless charger from the sun to your brain and body. This will help synchronize your circadian rhythm.
Now’s a crucial time to soak in safer rays. Just about all of the UV light is gone and we’re back to the same kind of light present around sunrise, with a lot of red light and brighter light that dims over a short period of time, triggering your brain and body to start going into rest and regeneration mode and improving your immune system by increasing the synthesis of melatonin not only in the pineal gland but the cells and mitochondria, improving sleep quality, regulating numerous aspects of cellular function, regulating gene expression, and acting as an antioxidant in cells.
Infrared light penetrates as much as 10 inches into the body, benefiting not only your skin, but your entire body. Infrared light from both sunrise and sunset stimulates increased ATP production in mitochondria by stimulating cytochrome C oxidase, and the resulting increase in ROS signalling in turn increases antioxidant production across the board in both cells and mitochondria.
Ancient cultures and many people today practice sungazing around this time, staring into the sky at the setting of the largest star in the solar system. The radiant energy enters the eyes via the cornea, passing through the optic lens, focusing on the retina, travelling down the optic nerve to the middle of the brain, nourishing and activating the hypothalamus, pineal, and pituitary glands, the control center of the physical body, triggering vital electric, magnetic, chemical reactions. This activation harmonizes the hormonal and nervous systems, creating increased energy and vitality, enhanced cognitive function, improved sleep and calmness via melatonin and serotonin production, and a plethora of other health benefits.
Be safe – only practice sungazing if you feel called to it, or when it is safe to look at the sun within the hour after sunrise or within the hour before sunset when ultraviolet levels are at zero. I’ve found that even just looking at the sky with the light reflected into the clouds has been beneficial for me. Start slowly and acclimate your eyes to the sun. Start during one of the safe hours for twenty or fewer seconds, then add 10-20 seconds to your sungazing practice every day. After years of indoor living and screen time, you may have to cover one eye with your hand and alternate eyes so that you can take in the light without squinting. This practice has been reported to increase vision strength and even eliminate or reduce the need for prescription eyeglasses when combined with neurotrophic herbal medicines and proper nutrition. After a few months you will likely experience less tension, fewer worries, a more balanced spirit, and increased vitamin D.
Nature heals, being in nature is the act of coming home. Let the elements feed your skin and spirit. Greet it with self knowledge, wisdom, and a well nourished body, and all will be well. Going barefoot on the earth at the same time also balances your charge with beneficial negative ions, grounds you, and keeps you balanced, reducing inflammation and creating white blood cells. Getting in the dirt feeds our good bacteria and allows the skin to absorb vital B-complex vitamins that promote longevity. Your body has an innate ability to heal and regulate itself. Remember what you loved doing as a kid, and do more of it! Just do whatever you can to avoid getting sunburnt throughout the process, and seek cover when your skin starts to feel warm.
The action of sunshine in the outdoors on the body is of such a nature that sun-baths have a triple significance—as a healing agent in the cure of dis-ease, as a preventative to dis-ease by building up body resistance, and as a sheer pleasure-giving tonic which increases the feeling of well-being.Edgar Mayer, MD
Sunlight benefits for health: circadian rhythm
A major issue in modern times is the prevalence of and exposure to artificial and indoor light that disconnects us from nature’s cycles and rhythms. This certainly includes blue light from tech screens, which tricks our brains into thinking it’s daytime 24/7 and that we should be awake, not asleep at night. Light quality is part of a nutritious diet and plays a massive role in overall health.
There’s no doubt you’ve heard the news that blue light exposure (especially at night) is now up there with cigarette smoking, sitting for long periods of time, and constant airline travel when it comes to increasing your risk of or triggering flare ups of chronic ailments. Scientists worldwide are now warning of the dangers of night-time exposure to artificial, blue light which has deleterious effects on circadian rhythm, gene expression and metabolic health, with a toll on our hormones, sleep, moods, energy levels and cellular healing during deeper sleep. Evidence has shown that poor sleep and mitochondrial dysfunction lead to many health issues such as cancer, depression, autoimmune conditions, and other conditions. Actively getting full body sunlight exposure with sunlight benefits (and reflecting into the retinas) is one way to mitigate the ill effects of artificial light, despite the skin cancer myths.
Blue light blocking glasses also help protect the quality of your sleep, which is the foundation of health, required to recharge and repair your mitochondria, the powerhouse of your every cell. Wearing them can help preserve your body’s circadian rhythm and protect melatonin production so you can sleep well, repair and heal, helping you adapt optimally to the physical world.
Blue light blocking glasses greatly enhance my sleep. I experience less eye strain when staring at screens and have found that I’m calmer in general. Blue light blockers help me become more tired at night (as it should be!). I highly recommend investing in your health, protecting yourself from blue light, and getting a pair. This pair is even big enough to fit over my prescription glasses. Looks goofy, but totally worth it.
Avoid the blue light blocking glasses with the lighter coloured frames as they work less effectively.
- Unplug/set timer to turn off wi-fi to reduce the invisible signals passing through your body, disrupting your sleep and affecting your immune system (yes, indeed wi-fi is a threat to human health and promotes oxidative stress, sperm/testicular damage, neuropsychiatric effects including EEG changes, apoptosis, cellular DNA damage, endocrine changes, and calcium overload)
- Turn off phone/put it into airplane mode
- Reduce blue light exposure prior to sleep, keep area dim by using a salt rock lamp or beeswax candle to cleanse the area of toxins (the red light that emanates from both can improve your mitochondrial function)
- Eliminate technology devices at least 1 hour prior to sleep
- Wear a sleep mask or place heavy curtains over your window
- Proper sleep posture (sleeping on your side promotes optimal glymphatic drainage)
- Deep breathing
- Morning sunlight
- Daily exercise
- Optimal nutrient intake (omnivorous, organic local diet)
- Wake and sleep at consistent times over a period of time to get the most out of your sleep and establish the rhythm your body needs to function optimally and repair cells
A salt rock lamp makes for a great diffused source of light, and natural beeswax candles can clear the air of toxins and create beneficial negative ions in your living space.
Solution for sun safety: zinc oxide
Non-toxic sunscreens without harmful chemicals do exist! There is an ingredient called zinc oxide which blocks out both UVA and UVB rays, so that you’re not promoting a UV imbalance and promoting cancer like you would with conventional sunscreens.
You’ll want to look for non-nano zinc oxide as the particles are too large to enter the bloodstream, providing great protection, similar to clothing itself. Ensure that the sunscreen formula you choose does not contain any harmful chemicals, as there are many toxic sunscreens that do contain beneficial zinc oxide. Living Libations is one of my favourite non-toxic brands. Read the ingredients carefully, and conduct a search on EWG’s Skin Deep database to vet the brand if needed.
If you do use zinc oxide, ensure you also give your skin enough time in the sun without any barriers to reap the full health benefits.
Solution for sun safety: wise interaction with the sun
Sunlight is a key that unlocks the nourishing energies that sustain our life. If we do not properly respect any powerful force of nature, we can certainly put ourselves in harm’s way, but this thinking overlooks the intuitive wisdom of the many historic peoples who understood that responsible sunlight exposure is vital to our health. If you’re new to the sun as I was (which is pretty blasphemous in itself), work up exposure to personal tolerance based on your sun experience.
Start with early mornings (before 10 am) and evenings only, then if you’re feeling it, about 10-20 minutes around solar noon or more can be implemented. Always check in with how you’re feeling and only use this advice as a general guideline. Even 5-10 minutes with a gentle walk will suffice.
This has changed my life:
- First recover integrity of the skin’s outer layer by creating a protective tan in the spring with phased-in exposure. Melanin produced in the spring prevents sunburn in the summer.
- Be safe and don’t burn yourself! Use UV protective clothing, a hat, and/or shade when you feel like your skin has had enough or close to burning. Your body will know.
- Eliminate processed foods and all industrialized PUFA vegetable and seed oils, go organic where possible. What we ingest determines our skin’s response to sunlight. Ditch alcohol, or just have a glass of biodynamic European red wine once in a blue moon (most US wine is contaminated with Glyphosate).
- Include sun supportive anti-inflammatory foods in an SPF diet such as wild chaga or tomatoes, sunshine grown superpowered foods, ethically pasture raised animal foods (healthy saturated fats)
- Hydrate properly with filtered, clean, remineralized, structured water. Spring water is the best! (Wildcrafted shilajit, fulvic/humic or trace minerals, least polluted sea salt and magnesium chloride are all great options in terms of remineralizing. Create properly filtered, restructured and remineralized water.)
- Block with clothing, hats, non-nano zinc, and shade
- Enjoy sunrise and sunset
- Start tanning in spring, tan to personal tolerance in morning hours until solar noon (8-10 am), slowly but surely
- Gradually build melanin 5-20 minutes a day (if you have more natural melanin, you may need more time. Your body will tell you when enough is enough—if your skin starts to feel warm, seek shade).
- Build reserves for winter
- Avoid soap and unfiltered tap water after sunning – Dr. Bronner’s and handmade, non-toxic soaps are the only ones I mess with
- Antioxidants and iodine – great sources of iodine include seaweeds, dulse, nori, and seafood, especially shrimp
- Topically use botanical oils in sun and after sun. Natural coconut oil is SPF 5, apply a layer to skin before and after sun exposure. Frankincense oil has also been great for me.
- If you ever go overboard and skin turns red, use fresh aloe vera leaf gel and immediately seek cover!
- Use a non-nano, all natural sunscreen for longer periods in the sun, such as this one by Living Libations, or plain coconut oil if you feel the need.
- Check out the D Minder app in order to track how much vitamin D you are generating based on your location, how much skin is exposed, and the time of year. The app can help you seek peak hours wherever you’re located.
And here is a quick summary of Dr. Auguste Rollier’s methods for his own patients that you could consider implementing in daily life:
- Full body sun exposure should be built up slowly (i.e. gradually increase the amount of time you spend outside from around 20 mins to a few hours a day.) The important point being to never allow your skin to be burnt.
- Sun exposure should be predominantly in the morning. Ideal times 8am to 10am. Midday Sun to be avoided if possible. Dr. Rollier found that the morning Sun had better healing effects than the afternoon or evening Sun.
- Exposing the bare back to the Sun gives the most health benefits. It is also useful to remove glasses or contact lenses when exposing yourself to the Sun (please do not stare directly into the Sun!).
- Higher altitudes provide stronger Sunshine which accelerates the health gains – providing you do not allow your skin to be burnt.
- Drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet, plus proper breathing and exercise are all part of restoring (and keeping) your body in optimum health.
Remember that the sun’s rays are energy, and this energy will be used positively by our mind and body if we allow it be received and absorbed properly.
Your tolerance can grow over time depending on your inflammation levels, nutrition and lifestyle. Note that sunblock/sunscreen/sunglasses of any kind will actually inhibit the production of Vitamin D from cholesterol sulfate.
Solution: sun harmonizing foods that support skin cells from within
Many of the skin issues that are referred to as “sun damage” are actually a manifestation of modern malnutrition. The most valuable way to promote skin health and avoid sunburns, boosting your skin’s resilience, is through diet. A healthy diet also promotes a better tan and more supple skin texture. Critical nutrients dissolve in our body water so that they are in a form that can feed our cells. A big reason why I didn’t feel comfortable in the sun as a younger person was that my diet was almost complete garbage. Well nourished skin responds better to the sunlight than mineral deficient skin, eliminating and reducing sunburns.
Avoid synthetic processed foods, pesticides and factory farming from most grocery stores. Trans fats, plasticizers, bromide, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, colour and flavour additives, and fluoride commonly found in these foods create reactions in our bodies that trigger collagen breakdown, inflammation, age spots and hyperpigmentation. Medications, chlorine, oral contraceptives, antibiotics, diet soda and coffee can all increase sensitivity to the sun. Rampant rancid carcinogenic polyunsaturated fatty acids, vegetables of soy, cottonseed, corn, canola, and Mazola found in every processed food product impairs intercellular communication, damages DNA, suppresses immune functions, and is all linked to wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.
Look for healthy fats from both properly raised, grass fed and finished animal foods, fruits and vegetables. Saturated fats are our friends: raw cheese, grass-fed dairy and butter, animal fats, coconut, avocado, and cacao butter, for example. These are satiating and great for your skin, mind and body.
Ditch processed foods, grains, bleached flours, inflammatory industrialized PUFA vegetable and seed oils, additives, preservatives, flavours, fake meats and most restaurant foods which cause our cells to oxidize more quickly, creating more rapid sunburns.
Sun-ripened, seasonal foods are more nutritious and support the skin in the sun. There’s no need to calculate calories or micrograms of nutrients—just indulgence and supporting your body with simple, wholesome foods brimming with nutrients and sunshine. I personally eat 99.9999% organic whole foods (once there was a bit of conventional chili in some pre-made kimchi but I wasn’t too hung up over it). Aim for organic, local, biodynamic, seasonal. Get to know your farmer and buy directly from them—the food will be fresher, more nutritious and protective, and more special.
- wild local chaga mushroom
- wild caught salmon (Alaskan is best with the least toxins)
- tomatoes (especially heated)
- wild local chaga supplement
- raw unprocessed cacao
- matcha/green tea
- leafy greens
- liquid chlorophyll
- bell peppers of all colours
- mineral water
Skin cells must be strengthened and nourished internally with real food and spring water or clean, filtered, restructured and remineralized water to receive the full blessing of interacting with the sun. Water contains minerals that inform the skin’s cells, intrinsically entwined with the mineral content dictating the water content in each cell and how receptive the skin is to water, providing for cell function and efficiency of cell-to-cell communication. We can create an internal SPF with an antioxidant-rich rainbow diet of sun-grown foods, herbs, fruits, luscious plants and properly raised animal fats brimming with nutrients, resulting in our internal sunscreen from the inside out. Chlorophyll also helps our mitochondria thrive.
- Click here for my remineralized, structured water recipe.
- If you’re in Canada, click here for a Travel Berkey water filter from Conscious Water (affiliate link).
According to Dr. Gerald Pollack, professor of bioengineering, the right types of water play a role in the functioning of cells. Water carries an electrical charge which is why we were taught as kids to keep electrical appliances away from the bathtub. Pollack describes water that is structured in our cells as a battery that can hold and deliver energy. Our cells are exposed to energy as near-infrared light, aka UV sunlight. When light hits the water in your cell, water is split into positive (H+) and negative (OH-) ions, which happens to be the same first step as plant photosynthesis. This split is potential energy stored in a cellular battery. Seek the sun and nourish yourself with leafy greens and chlorophyll that provides nutrients for your cells! We may be more like the plants than we thought.
Researchers in the UK have demonstrated a 30% increase in sun protection after eating a tomato-rich diet. 16mg of lycopene, the red antioxidant found in tomatoes, seems to be the key. I also tend to crave heated tomatoes during the warmer months.
Enjoy these foods at regular times under daylight before the sun sets for best protective effect and optimal digestion. Please comment below this article if you’d like to recommend any other foods that work for you!
Sunlight benefits for health: My experience
Sunburn of any kind is a sign of internal oxidative stress. With my current lifestyle and patterns of emotional processing, cooking meals with solely tallow, ghee and coconut oil (no seed oils, PUFAs or deep frying) using all organic foods including grass fed and finished bone broth, and filtering both drinking and shower water, I personally do not experience sunburns even after consistent lockdown days enjoying 20-30 minutes outside at a time in the morning and from 10 AM-2 PM (peak sunlight hours) including evenings – with zero sunscreen, skincare, or makeup. Completely bare.
I no longer experience prominent PMS, mood swings, and depression from growing up living an indoor lifestyle while malnourished with an irregular circadian rhythm, excessively watching computer screens and eating foods like those sprayed with pesticides, factory farmed dairy, seed oils, grains, and refined sugars/candy, and even from a whole foods organic plant based diet while doing full time indoor desk work.
I’m also extremely fair skinned with freckles and feel that I need to be particularly careful, yet I have a nice, natural, semi-golden tan for the first time in waking memory. Without sunburns involved.
My skin texture and moisture has also improved massively in tandem with my omnivorous organic high quality diet. I also like to spray my upper body and back of neck with generous magnesium chloride before getting out into the sun which helps with vitamin D production when applied transdermally, along with reduced inflammation, and it’s simply refreshing and relaxing. N=1 as living proof! Click here to check out my magnesium article, which should be considered the twin article to this one. Magnesium also helps to induce neurogenesis and restoration of nerve cells.
When I think of all of the sunlight benefits, I remember some of the best days of my life as a kid, puttering around at the cottage with my cousins, playing in the waters, boating under the sun all day, and biking on the trails, knowing that it’s never too late to live with a beginner’s mind, undo all the programming, fear and societal conditioning, and rediscover a sense of pure, unfettered life enjoyment, community, growth, service, earth connection, creativity, open mindedness, and childlike wonder well into older age.
You deserve to play. You deserve to live a joyful, fulfilling and adventurous life with self love and self care, and there are no limits to how GOOD you can feel in this lifetime! After all, it’s impossible to pour out of an empty cup.
Normalize feeling good, and remember to have some fun with it.
Why pills don’t work: Vitamin D supplement drawbacks
Man made vitamin D pills are tricky to navigate, and they don’t offer the full spectrum that you need from the actual sun. They are incomparable to the actual sun’s rays, and scientists and pharmaceutical companies have yet to come up with a perfect sunlight vitamin. So many are often spiked with nasty food colourings, additives, fillers, flavours and artificial sweeteners. I believe that since there are so many beneficial processes and analogues of vitamin D that are created from the interface and dialogues between the sunlight and our cells, we can’t just replace sunlight with a supplement and stay indoors. Sunlight itself has much more benefit for the immune system and the whole body than just vitamin D production.
Supplemental fat-soluble vitamin D3 is viable yet it is only when sun fuses with skin that the vitamin D produced by our bodies hgets stored in our cells as a rainy-day fund. It is the skin that is designed to generate vitamin D in response to sunlight, not solely through digestive intake. It’s also unclear whether supplemental vitamin D ever reaches the upper layers of the skin (the keratinocyte layer) that plays an important role in immunity as a germ fighter and protector from sun overexposure.
Supplementation of Vitamin D pills actually creates something called a functional deficiency. Consuming vitamin D as a supplement by itself blocks the receptors for other fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A and K. Taking a simple vitamin D supplement has actually been linked to weaker bones. Isolated Vitamin D supplements have even been linked to cancer. A vitamin D supplement competes with other vitamins, which opens the floodgates of imbalances and dis-ease. As an example, you need vitamin K to absorb calcium, so if your vitamin D supplement is preventing the absorption of vitamin K (and thus the absorption of calcium), your bones become weaker as a result.
Vitamin D is only generated by UVB rays, which come from the sky most powerfully at solar noon (during periods of the year when the sun is strong enough). Exposing your bare skin to the sun at this time of day (for a short amount of time) is the optimal way to get your daily quota of vitamin D.
If you’re in Canada like I am, or if you live in a place where you can’t get UV light year round, it may be wise to supplement vitamins D3+K2 carefully during the fall/winter season. I’m a big fan of the Surthrival D3+K2 Daylight Concentrate which also contains shilajit, a great source of trace minerals otherwise missing and depleted from most agricultural soils and filtered water. Pasture raised eggs, raw cheeses and unpasteurized milk, pasture raised, grass fed and finished meats and grass fed butter are great whole food sources to get you through the long winters. UV-B lamps like Sperti are also an option, and generally more recommended than most supplements. My advice would be to try stocking up on all of the sunlight benefits during the warmer months since vitamin D goes into the body’s storage to resource you through the winter months.
Sunlight benefits for health: Bioactive Vitamin D from foods
Daily sunlight exposure with sufficient cholesterol, magnesium, and riboflavin intake is what matters for bioavailable Vitamin D and the immune system. This also trickles down to bioavailable vitamin D year round from regular intake of low mercury wild caught seafood, and grass fed and finished animal foods ethically pasture raised in the SUN. Though food sources are less plentiful than actual sunlight exposure, it certainly won’t hurt to include both in your life.
Let food be your medicine. Let medicine be your food.Imhotep, the “original father of medicine”, even before Hippocrates: scribe, chief lector, priest, architect, astronomer and magician
Cod liver in particular (not just cod liver oil) contains the cofactors magnesium and riboflavin necessary for vitamin D production into its active form. Pasture raised eggs are great as well – notice the emphasis on pasture raised in the sun, which eventually translates to vitamin D in your food, empowering you. Low cholesterol may actually increase the risk of vitamin D deficiency since UVB light converts cholesterol into vitamin D3, which is carried to your liver and then your kidneys to transform it into active vitamin D (Dr. Steven Lin).
Why are ethically sourced animal foods so important? The sun’s rays turn a chemical in your skin into vitamin D3, which is carried to your liver and then your kidneys to transform it into active vitamin D. This chemical is cholesterol, and low amounts of sunlight affects cholesterol profiles in the blood.
Structural similarities of cholesterol and vitamin D and their common precursor led researchers to wonder whether a high level of blood cholesterol within a population might be a manifestation of sunlight deficiency. In the US, the death rate from coronary heart disease decreased with the increasing altitude of residence. These rates are more common on the Atlantic fringes of northwest Europe—the British Isles and northern Scandinavia. Studies have also indicated that the mortality risk of an individual also changes with migration to that of the new place of residence, often higher with increasing distance from the equator (less sun). ⠀
Research has found a significant positive relationship between baseline vitamin D and total cholesterol level to pro-vitamin D3 which is then transported to the skin, mainly the epidermis, where it is isomerized to pre-vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) by UVB radiation. Research has also found a significant positive relationship between baseline vitamin D and total cholesterol level.
Artificial fortification of vitamin D is common in many foods during the manufacturing process. Synthetic vitamin D2, which isn’t even the right kind of vitamin D, is common in conventional milk, baby formula and cereal products. D2 is way less biologically active than D3, and is inefficient at binding with our valuable vitamin D receptors leaving room for bacterial ligands to invade our vitamin D receptors. Opt instead for organic, healthy fats and fresh-pressed essential fatty acids, direly depleted in the North American diet.
Foods cofactored well with the sun include:
- wild caught seafood on a species appropriate diet (not farmed and fed GMO corn and soy) – the benefits greatly outweigh the drawbacks of any ocean microplastics or negligible toxins that can be detoxified. Think salmon, scallops, shrimp, bivalves like oysters, mussels, cod liver, and small fish like sardines and mackerel that accumulate fewer toxins. Do some research to properly source seafood wild caught in waters with the least toxins. DHA in seafood serves the integral function of capturing light that’s been lifted to the UV spectrum and released by vitamin A (cofactor) bound to light receptor proteins. The dense electron clouds of DHA capture the energy of re-released light and transfer it to a neural impulse. DHA is also within the retinohypothalamic tract to optimize the neural signal from melanopsin/vitamin A in ipRGCs to the suprachiasmatic nucleus, converting the timing, energy and information from the sun as the main zeitgeber (regulator, synchronizer) in the Circadian clock, entraining the body to the Earth’s natural 24-hour light/dark and 12-month cycles, rather than being indoors on screens all day. DHA transforms light into electrical energy and is what facilitates sight in every eye that we see in nature. Its presence goes all the way back to the Cambrian explosion, with not a single organism replacing it. Seafood and sunlight, at least a few times a week. Even more important if you live somewhere without frequent sunlight exposure.
- grass/hay fed AND finished, pasture raised or wild caught animal foods – nose-to-tail consumption, not just muscle meats, ethically sourced. The animals should be treated like gods, basically.
- raw, unpasteurized, grass/hay fed milk, including cheese, ghee and kefir, goat’s is more bioavailable and tends to pose less issues than cow’s, ethically sourced, A2 cow’s and water buffalo’s can be nice too
- pasture raised/wild eggs – chicken, quail, duck, ostrich, etc.
- the rainbow of organic fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices
- avoid fake food as you’d be killing yourself faster than the planet would like. We can dismantle Big Food and Agriculture, pesticides and monocultures by connecting more to our nature and seeking out evolutionarily compatible nutrition rather than rejecting it or burying our heads in the sand.
- If you’re in southern Ontario, use code ROOTTOSKY15 for $15 off your first order at Wild Meadows Farm. I order from them all the time, and they’re one of the few high quality sources of animal based foods I trust around here.
With all of the biochemistry and nutrition puzzle pieces I’ve picked up over the years, I have come to conclude that living by the sea with purpose on an off-grid biodynamic farm/fishery sort of community while doing wild foraging/hunting and barefoot beach runs, surfs, swims and meditations in the mornings and evenings free of fear is one of the healthiest and most enjoyable lifestyles one could possibly dream of.
Get to familiarize yourself with light, earth, air, the basic ingredients that help bring you back to wholeness. The physical and spiritual benefits are endless. Responsible exposure to sunlight is vital for health, and historic peoples understood this very clearly. Bottom line: sunburns are best avoided, but avoiding the sun completely is even worse.
The sun is high above us shining down upon the land and sea, making things grow and bloom. Great and powerful sun, we honour you this day and thank you for your gifts. Ra, Helios, Sol Invictus, Aten, Svarog, you are known by many names. You are the light over the crops, the heat that warms the earth, the hope that springs eternal, the bringer of life. We welcome you, and we honour you this day, celebrating your light, as we begin our journey once more into the darkness.
*Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that the content of this article is not to be taken, interpreted, or construed as medical advice and is presented for informational purposes only. I am not a medical professional. Always consult with a trusted health practitioner such as a naturopath, TCM/Ayurvedic practitioner, Neuro-Training kinesiologist or functional medicine doctor when embarking on lifestyle adjustments.
Magnesium: the miracle mineral (my twin article to go with this one)