Heliotherapy. It is the use of solar radiation for therapeutic purposes.
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- 1 History
- 2 Actions of solar radiation
- 3 Beneficial effects of heliotherapy
- 4 Correct practice of heliotherapy
- 5 Contraindications
- 6 Source
Heliotherapy originates from ancient civilizations, as they have had a preference for the solar gods. Greek civilization systematizes heliotherapy (gymnastics: gynimus = naked), practicing heliosis on the seashore or heliotherapy on the terrace of the houses. Hippocrates points out that the action of the sun is linked to the weather. Pliny points to the sun as a maximum remedy. Avicenna recommends the cures of the sun as resistance before the diseases.
Actions of solar radiation
- Increase in local temperature by action of infrared rays .
- Increased peripheral circulation.
- Tissue turgor and solar erythema , depending on the type of skin (from white to black).
- Release of vasodilator substances.
- Intense sweating
- Increased tissue metabolism.
- Analgesic action.
- Skin pigmentation
- Transformation of provitamin D, enough with one hour a day.
- Bactericidal and regenerative action on wounds and scars.
- Elevation of body temperature.
- Tendency to hypotension.
- Increased leukocytes and red blood cells.
- Increased metabolism.
- Increased stimulation of the thyroid and sex glands.
- Improves muscles.
- Regulatory effect of the vegetative nervous system.
- Accelerates prehepatic bilirubin malnutrition.
- Local: erythema, burns, vesicles, dehydration, desiccation and degeneration of the skin.
- General: dermatitis, eczema and urticarias.
- Eyepieces: glare, conjunctivitis and blindness.
- Insolation: due to excess radiation.
- Heat stroke: due to lack of water, inappropriate clothing and increased exercise.
- Cancer development: beware of indiscriminate sunbathing and people who have nevus.
Beneficial effects of heliotherapy
- Anti-rickets effect: sunlight favors the production of Vitamin D , which we need to absorb calcium from food and strengthen bones. Since the skin is not totally opaque, the light reaches the blood that circulates through the capillaries located in the most superficial layers. And it is precisely in the skin where the so-called provitamin D is found, which is converted into vitamin D by the action of the sun’s rays. It is not necessary to sunbathe excessively, as a small amount of vitamin D is sufficient.
- Stimulating effect on the mind: light induces optimism, makes life look more positive and prevents depression and sadness. Sunlight has, in this sense, the same effects as artificial light, but there is no doubt that the dose of light in an open environment, in the field, directly from the sun, is always more pleasant than in a closed room and from an artificial light source. The stimulating effect of light on the human mind has been widely demonstrated and, in fact, exposure to light is already part of the treatment guidelines for some patients with depression.
- Stimulating effect on the skin itself: direct exposure to sunlight causes slight irritation of the most superficial layers of the skin, which dilates the capillaries found on the skin surface; Thanks to this, the blood circulating through the skin increases. In its minor form, this irritation gives rise to the so-called solar erythema. We must not forget that this irritation caused by the sun’s rays that act on the skin can be a double-edged sword, since while on the one hand it improves blood circulation in the skin, on the other it can damage the cells of the epidermis. , drying them out and causing them to age prematurely. It is known that people whose profession has required them to be in the sun for long hours have more wrinkled and aged skin.
Correct practice of heliotherapy
- Avoid the hours of greatest solar intensity. Mainly in the summer months, avoid the hours around noon and take advantage of the first hours of the morning or the last hours of the afternoon, when the sun is not so intense.
- Begin exposure to the sun gradually. At first, no more than 15 minutes and gradually increasing the exposure time as the skin becomes covered with the brown color, which is its natural protection against ultraviolet rays.
- Be especially cautious and cautious with children. They like to play in the sun and can easily receive an excessive dose of light, much higher than they need and is convenient for them. Children’s skin is especially vulnerable, so exposure times should be shorter than for adults.
- Sunbathing should never leave you feeling tired, but should be stimulating and not exhausting. Therefore, if you feel tired at the end of the sunbath, it is a sign that the dose of heliotherapy has been excessive.
- Protect yourself. The head must always be covered and the eyes protected with sunglasses. This is an extremely important rule.
In fever, vascular disorders, sensitive diseases such as lupus erythematosus.