The superbugs are among us. Should we return to the use of sanatoria?
By Marc Sorenson, EdD
First of all, one should know that sanatoria are secluded hospitals. In addition, they usually specialize in healing through good food, fresh air and sunlight. Some scientists are now suggesting that we reestablish the use of sanatoria for healing. They feel that sanatoria may be just the answer we seek for the prevention and healing of infectious diseases.
Interestingly, sanatoria were used effectively in the early 20th century (before antibiotics) and were really large outdoor solariums (sunrooms). These facilities allowed patients to be in natural surroundings, and in some cases, to expose themselves to direct sunlight. To demonstrate the efficacy of these facilities in curing tuberculosis (TB), consider the following history of Dr. Aguste Rollier:
Should we use sanatoria for healing TB?
First of all, records of 1,129 TB cases showed solariums cured 87% of “closed cases” and 76% of “open cases. “Among 158 patients with tuberculosis of the hip, 125 were cured and 102 “regained complete recovery of articular function.” Dr. Rollier also had other successes. “During a time just following World War I, 1,746 of 2,167 tubercular patients under his care completely recovered. Furthermore, the only failures were among those who had allowed their tuberculosis to enter its most advanced stages.”
Superbugs arrive from Peru.
In 2009, the first case of drug-resistant TB arrived in the US from Peru. It was nearly 100% resistant to antibiotics. Consequently, it could cause an immense killer epidemic with the return of TB. There seems to be no answer to the “superbug” causing it. Or is there an answer? Could the sun provide a solution to this health threat? The superbugs are upon us like a bad horror movie. When they start to take over the earth, there will be few cures. But, UV light from the sun, or sun lamps, are remedies that still exist. Therefore, we would be well-advised to have our defenses set up in advance by enjoying daily sun exposure.
Another more recent historical perspective regarding sanatoria and sun exposure.
I recently happened across research that should be of interest to those who love the Sun. It gave a historical perspective of TB in the city of Bern, Switzerland. In addition, it showed how Bern wiped out most of its TB problems. Especially relevant is the fact that the city used lifestyle changes, not drugs. And, those changes included greater access to sun exposure. The authors studied TB incidence during the period from 1856-1950. There were three areas of the city assessed for their historical TB problems. One was known as the Black Quarter, where during 1911-1915 there were 550 cases of TB per 100,000 people. The second was the City Center with 327 cases per 100,000 people. The third area was the Outskirts, with 209 cases per 100,000 people. There were three living conditions correlating closely to TB:
- The number of persons per room. A higher number predicted a greater risk of TB.
- A greater number of rooms without sunlight predicted a greater risk of TB.
- A greater number of windows per apartment predicted a diminished risk of TB
Consequently, the country worked to address these problems by reducing room crowding, providing open-air schools and building sanatoria. As a result, TB risk dropped from 330 cases per 100,000 in 1856 to 33 per 100,000 in 1950—a 90% drop! Also, I expect that health care cost dramatically decreased.
With the superbugs gaining strength each year, maybe we should reestablish the use of sanatoria?
Another thought: sun exposure probably works as well with many other diseases as it does with TB. Hence, the day may come when sanatoria, especially solariums, may be the only choice for curing infections. Finally, why not sunbathe daily in a non-burning fashion? In addition, sunlamps (in the absence of sunny days) could be valuable to the the health, because they also produce some of the same types of healing light (UVB and UBA) as the sun. Safely and regularly embrace the sun to protect your health!
 Greenhalgh I, Butler AR. Sanatoria revisited. Sunlight and health. J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2017;47(3):276-280.
 Clark, W. Treatment of Bone and joint tuberculosis with Tuberculin and Heliotherapy. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 1923;5:721-39.
 Fielder, J. Heliotherapy: the principles & practice of sunbathing. Soil and Health Library (online) http://www.soilandhealth.org/index.html
 Zürcher K, Ballif M, Zwahlen M, Rieder HL, Egger M, Fenner L. Tuberculosis Mortality and Living Conditions in Bern, Switzerland, 1856-1950. PLoS One. 2016 16;11(2):e0149195
By Marc Sorenson, EdD Sunlight Institute…
I recently happened across new research that should be of interest to those who love the Sun. It gave a historical perspective of TB that showed how the city of Bern, Switzerland wiped out most of their tuberculosis (TB) problems by using lifestyle changes, including a greater accessibility to sun.
The authors studied the TB incidence in Bern during the period from 1856-1950. There were three areas of the city that were assessed for their historical TB problems. One was known as the Black Quarter, and in 1911 -1915 there were 550 cases per 100,000; another area was known as the City Center and had 327 cases per 100,000; a third area was known as the Outskirts, and had 209 cases per 100,000.
There were three living conditions that correlated closely to TB:
- Number of persons per room. A higher number predicted a greater risk of TB.
- A higher number of rooms without sunlight predicted a greater risk of TB.
- The number of windows per apartment predicted a diminished risk of TB
As the country worked to address these problems by improving living conditions, reducing room crowding, building open-air schools and building sanatoria, TB risk dropped from 330 cases per 100,000 in 1856 to 33 per 100,000 in 1950—a 90% drop! Sanatoria, by the way, were secluded hospitals that healed through good food, fresh air and sunlight.
The researchers concluded their paper with this statement: “Improved living conditions and public health measures may have contributed to the massive decline of the TB epidemic in the city of Bern even before effective antibiotic treatment became finally available in the 1950s.”
This is an important paper. It shows that natural methods, including sun exposure, were highly effective in decimating TB. Sanatoria may be needed again, as the superbugs, including TB superbugs, are now highly resistant to antibiotics.
When the people avoid the sun, they set themselves up for disease. Instead, embrace the sun, but don’t burn. It is one of the best methods of disease prevention known to man, and it doesn’t produce any superbugs; in fact it kills them!
 Zürcher K, Ballif M, Zwahlen M, Rieder HL, Egger M, Fenner L. Tuberculosis Mortality and Living Conditions in Bern, Switzerland, 1856-1950. PLoS One. 2016 Feb 16;11(2):e0149195
 Moisse, K. Drug Resistant TB could bring back Sanatoria. ABC News October 2011.
By: Dr. Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–
Remember as you read this blog, that sunlight is the only natural way to increase vitamin D levels. Supplements are a substitute! New research points out that vitamin D supplementation has the ability to profoundly reduce inflammation in response to tuberculosis (TB), as measured by inflammatory markers.[i] Perhaps even more important, patients with TB who received vitamin D supplementation were able to clear TB bacterium from the sputum (coughed up phlegm) in 23 days compared to 36 days in those who did not receive supplementation. This means that recovery from TB was much more rapid in those who received vitamin D.
None of this should come as much of a surprise, since sun exposure, which is the natural way to produce vitamin D, was used to cure TB ninety years ago. Dr. Auguste Rollier was a pioneer in this therapy, which consisted in sunbathing. In one of his groups, there were 2,167 patients. Of these, 1,746 completely recovered their health.[ii] That is about an 80% cure rate in a disease that was widely considered incurable! Only those in the most advanced stages of the disease failed to recover. Due to the advent of antibiotics, sunlight therapy was relegated to the junk heap, to the detriment of the human race.
It is highly likely that had the patients in the vitamin D study regularly been out in the sunlight, that they would have never initially contracted TB. We must stop regarding sunlight as the enemy; it is mankind’s best friend, and a healer par excellence.
[i] Coussens, A, et al. Vitamin D accelerates resolution of inflammatory responses during tuberculosis treatment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the US, September 4, 2012. <?xml:namespace prefix = o />
[ii] Fielder, J. Heliotherapy: the principles & practice of sunbathing. Soil and Health Library (online) http://www.soilandhealth.org/index.html.
[i] Coussens, A, et al. Vitamin D accelerates resolution of inflammatory responses during tuberculosis treatment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the US, September 4, 2012.
[ii] Fielder, J. Heliotherapy: the principles & practice of sunbathing. Soil and Health Library (online) http://www.soilandhealth.org/index.html.
It appears that the first case of drug-resistant TB has arrived in the US from Peru. It is nearly 100% resistant to antibiotics, and does not bode well for the country, since it could cause an immense killer epidemic. There seems to be no answer to the “superbug” that causes it. Or is there an answer? Could sunlight and its skin-produced hormone, vitamin D, provide answers to this latest health threat?
Sunlight has a long history of treatment for tuberculosis. Much of the following discussion of TB comes from Dr. Fielder’s history of heliotherapy.
As early as 1857 Madame Duhamel of France exposed children with TB to sunshine because it hastened their recovery. Many doctors of that same era used heliotherapy (sunlight treatments) with great success, and as Dr. Fielder states, “As a general rule, the experience of all the Hygienists in their use of sunbathing was so successful that all question of doubt as to its place in the Hygienic System was ensured.”
Madame Duhamel was correct about sunbathing healing tuberculosis (TB). Later on, a disillusioned physician, Dr. Rollier, gave up a promising surgical practice and moved to the mountains of the Swiss countryside to practice medicine there. However, he discovered that the people needed little help, as they were seldom sick. People were always telling him, “Where the sun is, the doctor ain’t [sic].” In fact, Dr. Rollier’s fiancée had TB and would have died without intervention. He brought her to the Alpine area, exposed her regularly to sunshine, and she completely recovered.
Dr. Rollier opened a sanatorium in 1903 that was really just an extremely large solarium (sunbathing facility) with patient living quarters. There were 2,167 patients under Dr. Rollier’s care for TB following World War One. Of these, 1,746 completely recovered their health. Only those in the most advanced stages of the disease failed to recover.
In 1895, Dr. Niels Finsen made use of the first artificial UV light in treating patients with a particularly virulent form of TB known as lupus vulgaris (a skin disease). Though the disease was considered incurable, 41 of every 100 patients under his care recovered. Finsen’s work earned the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1903.
These researchers and physicians were not alone in their observations of the therapeutic power of sunlight. In 1877 two scientists, Arthur Downes and Thomas Blunt, discovered that sunlight was bactericidal. In 1890, the German microbiologist Robert Koch (who had isolated and described the tuberculosis bacterium in 1882), showed that sunlight killed TB bacteria.
Recently, the interest in Vitamin D to thwart TB is being revisited.   and it has been shown that Black immigrants to Australia have much lower vitamin D levels than the general population and a much higher risk of TB. Moreover, the effectiveness of vitamin D was demonstrated against the TB bacteria in an experiment in which a single dose of vitamin D (100,000 IU) significantly increased immunity to the TB bacterium. The effectiveness of vitamin D against TB is determined by the production of cathelicidin, an antibacterial peptide, which we could call the “body’s natural antibiotic.”
Further corroborating vitamin D’s essential role is that people who lack vitamin D receptors (VDR) are three times more likely to contract TB as those with normal VDR. Vitamin D also inhibits the body’s inflammatory response to TB infection in the lungs.  Considering the efficacy of sunlight therapy and vitamin D in inhibiting or even curing tuberculosis, doesn’t it seem that it’s time to return to the sun? Remember that you should never burn yourself in the sunlight.
 http://www.sphere.com/nation/article/first-case-of-highly-drug-resistant…  Fielder, J. Heliotherapy: the principles & practice of sunbathing. Soil and Health Library (online) http://www.soilandhealth.org/index.html.  Hobday, R. The Healing sun. Findhorn Press 1999:132  Martineau, A. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on anti-mycobacterial immunity: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial in London tuberculosis contacts. Int J Tuberculosis Lung Dis 2005;9:S173.  Martineau, A. et al. Vitamin D status of tuberculosis patients and healthy blood donors in Samara City, Russia. Int J Tuberculosis Lung Dis 2005;9:S225.  Nnoaham, K. et al. Low serum vitamin D levels and tuberculosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Epidemiol 2008;37:113-19. Gibney, K. et al. vitamin D deficiency is associated with tuberculosis and latent tuberculosis infection in immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa. Clin Infect Dis 2008’46:443-46. Martineau, A et al. A single dose of vitamin D enhances immunity of mycobacteria. A J Respir Crit Care Med 2007;176:208-13. Liu, P. et al. vitamin D mediated human antimicrobial activity against mycobacterium tuberculosis is dependent on the induction of cathelicidin. J Immunol 2007;179:2060-63. Liu, W. et al. A case-control study on the vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms and susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis. Zhonghua Liu Xing Bing Xue Za Zhi 2003;24:389-92.  Selvaraj, P et al. Regulatory role of promoter and 3’ UTR variants of vitamin D receptor gene on cytokine response in pulmonary tuberculosis. J Clin Immunol 2008; January 30. Epub ahead of print. Vidyarani, M. et al. 1, 25 Hydroxyvitamin D3 modulated cytokine response in pulmonary tuberculosis. Cytokine 2007;40:128-34. – See more at: http://www.sunlightinstitute.org/will-vitamin-d-stop-new-killer-strain-drug-resistant-tuberculosis-or-sunlight-cure#sthash.PTDnd37d.dpuf