Sun exposure: an antiseptic and antibiotic

Sun exposure: an antiseptic and antibiotic





By Marc Sorenson, EdD.  Sun  exposure–Did you know that sun exposure can kill germs both inside and outside the body? Here is a little history.

The German microbiologist Robert Koch, who isolated TB bacteria in 1882, showed that sun could kill the bacteria. However, even earlier, in 1877, other researchers discovered that sugar water left in the shade became cloudy, indicative of bacterial growth, but if exposed to sun, it remained clear.[1]

Sun is a potent bactericide. Dr. Kime, in his book, Sunlight could Save Your Life, reviewed the results of research conducted between 1886 and 1909. It showed that the following bacteria were killed by ultraviolet light: anthrax, plague, streptococci, tubercle bacillus, cholera, staphylococcus, colon bacillus and dysentery bacillus. Sun was virtually forgotten with the advent of antibiotic drugs, but now the interest has returned. While watching a newscast, I noticed the news ticker announcing, “Sunshine is the most effective anti-infection therapy.” But is this really news?  Dr. Kime cites several early studies on sun and infectious diseases that were performed about the same time as the advent of antibiotics. Reports in the scientific literature in the 1940s showed that sun killed infectious bacteria or viruses. Kime states …“a number of patients, having such various infections and diseases as blood poisoning, childbirth infections, peritonitis, viral pneumonia, mumps, and bronchial asthma were treated with ultraviolet light therapy to their blood.”[2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] They were, in fact, treated very successfully.

Dr. Kime also cited research showing that UV therapy killed the flu virus outside the body[12] and destroyed cancer-producing viruses.[13] He reported good results in his own practice in treating fungal infections with sun therapy.

Other early research showed that all bacteria within eight feet of low-intensity UV lights were killed in ten minutes.[14]

While visiting in Mexico, a friend invited me (MBS) to tour a bottled-water plant in a town called Juchipila. It was interesting that the water was exposed to UV as a means of purification. It must work, because I drank it during my visit without ill effects. Sun also kills E. coli bacteria in twelve feet of seawater and in waste stabilization ponds.[15] I also find it interesting that the Sonicare electric-toothbrush company now sells a sanitizer based on UV. The brush, after use is placed in the UV sanitizer, and the company claims that it kills millions of germs in 10 minutes.

The insanity of sun avoidance becomes more evident every day. Safely embrace the sun and save your life!

[1] Downes, A.  Researches on the effect of light upon bacteria and other organisms. Proc Roy Soc Med 1877;26:488.  Cited in Kime, Z. sun Could Save Your Life.  World Health Publications, Penryn, CA 1980:126-30.

[2] Miley, G. The Knott technic of ultraviolet blood irradiation in acute pyogenic infections.  New York J Med 1942;42:38.

[3] Miley, G. The Knott technic of ultraviolet blood irradiation in acute pyogenic infections.  New York J Med 1942;42:38.

[4] Rebbeck, E. Ultraviolet irradiation of auto-transfused blood in the treatment of puerperal sepsis.  Amer J Surg 1941;54:691

[5] Rebbeck, E.  Ultraviolet irradiation of autotransfused blood in the treatment of postabortal sepsis. Amer J Surg 1942;55:476.

[6] Rebbeck, E.  Ultraviolet irradiation of the blood in the treatment of escherichia coli septicemia.  Arch Phys Ther 1943;24:158.

[7] Rebbeck, E. The Knott technic of ultraviolet blood irradiation as a control of infection in peritonitis.  Amer J Gastroenterol 1943;10:1-26

[8] Hancock, V.  Irradiated blood transfusions in the treatment of infections.  Northwest Med 1934;33:200.

[9] Barrett, H.   Five years experience with hemo-irradiation according to the Knott technic.  Am J Surg 1943;61:42

[10] Barrett, H.  The irradiation of auto-transfused blood by ultraviolet spectral energy: results of therapy in 110 cases.  Med Clin N Amer 1940;24:723

[11] Miley, G.  The present status of ultraviolet blood irradiation.  Arch Phys Ther 1944;25:357.

[12] Hollaender, A.  The inactivating effect of monochromatic ultraviolet radiation on influenza virus. J Bact 1944;48:447.

[13] Heding LD, Schaller JP, Blakeslee JR, Olsen RG.Inactivation of tumor cell-associated feline oncornavirus for preparation of an infectious virus-free tumor cell immunogen.  Cancer Res 1976;36:1647.

[14] Hart, D.  Sterilization of the air in the operating room by special antibacterial radiant energy.  J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 1936;6:45.

[15]Gameson, A. Field studies on effect of daylight on mortality of coliform bacteria. Water Res 1967;1:279.

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    • Marc Sorenson, EdD Sunlight Institute

      Interesting question. I grew up on a thousand-acre farm and worked there for a couple of decades, having to deal with cow manure, hog slopping and myriad additional dirty activity like planting seeds in a garden. Never did I have an infection from any of it. Neither did my peers, siblings, parents or anyone else who worked on farms. Even when my skin was broken due to a cut, scrape or scratch, there were no infections.
      I wish I could answer your question better, but as a person who grew up in the dirt and under the sun, I never experienced what you describe.
      Marc Sorenson

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