This section is from the book "The Hygienic System: Fasting And Sun Bathing", by Herbert M. Shelton. Also available from Amazon: The Hygienic System Vol III Fasting and Sun Bathing.
It should not be assumed that sunlight is, in itself, a cure for "disease." It is supplementary to other hygienic or nutritive factors--it is not a cure. It may be used in building health, in improving the nutrition of the body, but not as a therapeutic measure.
The true lesson of all that has gone before is one of hygiene, not one of therapeutics. We will have learned our lesson well when we have eliminated smoke from our cities, blinds, shutters, shades, etc., from our windows, remedied the crowded, sunless sections of our cities, provided parks and playgrounds for our city children, equipped the roofs of all apartment buildings with sections for sun-bathing, provided free public sun-parks for the sexes of the cities, and learned to wear clothing that permits the sunlight to reach the body, or else, as suggested by Graham, go nude, except in the most inclement weather.
Every woman is very careful to put her pot plants out into the sun--why not her children also? Sunlight is especially important to the growing, developing child. The offspring of undernourished and tubercular parents, or children of the scrofulous diathesis should have a superabundance of sunshine throughout their entire childhood. Scrofulous children particularly need sunshine; they are anemic little human flowers which will bloom properly only if transplanted from dark, damp, tenements to sunny sections.
The great influence of sunshine upon the development of the bones has been previously shown. Graham spoke truly when he declared: "If man were always to go entirely naked, the bones would be less liable to disease and distortion."
Cartilage is transformed into bone when the calcium and phosphorus salts are properly utilized by it. Only through the aid of sunshine, particularly the ultra-violet rays, may the laying down and fixation of phosphorus and calcium be accomplished in an ideal way.
Dr. W. T. Bowie, Professor of Biophysics, Harvard, gathered statistics which show that about ninety-seven per cent of all the babies born in our northern cities are afflicted, to a greater or lesser extent, with rickets.
Dr. Bowie raised two flocks of chickens in a green house. Both flocks were fed the same food, given the same space in which to run about, both wallowed in the same dust and scratched the same gravel. Their conditions of life were identical, except for the fact that one flock was exposed for fifteen minutes a day to the ultra-violet rays of the quartz lamp. Seventy-five per cent of those not receiving the light died of "weak legs" (rickets), while the survivors were by no means normal. All those treated by the ultra-violet rays, except a few killed by rats, lived. These latter were larger and more vigorous than those raised under the glass of the green house, but which received no ultra-violet light. Ordinary glass does not permit the ultra-violet rays to pass through. Basking in the warmth and light of the sun that passes through the window pane is of small value in the prevention of "disease" or the restoration of health. The unfiltered rays of the sun alone are capable of assisting the work of metabolism.
The evidence is clear from animal experiment and human experience that if a child receives an abundance of sunlight it will thrive on almost any kind of diet, whereas, if you deprive it of sunlight, it will not thrive well on the best of diets. Sunlight is one of the most important elements of the natural diet. Every child should have sunlight before birth and after birth. No "just-as-good" substitutes should be used. Despite the claims made for cod-liver oil, by the huge commercial enterprises built around this substance, it cannot take the place of sunshine.
More than once I have taken children suffering from rickets, who were growing worse on cod-liver oil and quartz lamp treatment, and seen them begin immediately to make rapid improvement when orange juice was substituted for the cod-liver oil and sunshine displaced the lamplight. Rachitic bones are defective, mis-shapen, brittle and easily broken. They get this way due to a lack of sunshine.
Rickets presents deficient calcification of the bones, with a tendency of the weakened bones to bend. Swelling occurs in the cartilaginous zones at the ends of the bones of the limbs, so that the joints become thickened. Globular swellings form on the ends of the ribs along the sternum, forming the so-called rachitic wreath. Permanent deformation of the bones and joints is the usual result.
Sunlight causes an increase in calcification of the bones to set in immediately. Deformities are straightened and overcome. Sunlight is far superior to quartz light in this condition.
On July 1, 1929 the United States Children's Bureau made public its figures which were held to show that lack of sunshine is the direct cause of rickets in children, and that lack of food or deficient food is not a contributing cause. These statistics, which are held to prove that the sun-bath alone will give immunity to juvenile bone "diseases," are the result of prolonged study of children in Porto Rico, where an abundance of sunshine wholly prevents rickets in badly undernourished children.
Out of 584 children whose forearms were X-ray photographed, only one showed active rickets, and this child had always lived in an artificially lighted cellar. Of all the children examined, 68% were tanned by the sun; 88% lived in houses that permitted the free access of an abundance of sunshine; 10% lived in houses that admitted a fair amount of sunshine and only 2% lived in dark houses.
H. B. Cushman, who was born among the Indians, of missionary parents, while they were still east of the Mississippi, and who went west with them when they were ruthlessly driven from their homelands, spending nearly seventy years among them, says in his History of the Choctaw, Chickasau and Natchez Indians, (1889) p. 246, that among the Choctaws, "deformity was almost unknown, proving that nature in the wild forest of the wilderness is true to her type." Again, "It is said of the Natchez, 'that the sight was never shocked by the appearance of deformity,' such as are so frequently observed among the white race; and with equal truth the same may be said of all the North American Indians."--p. 533. George Catlin tells us that "amongst two millions of these people" (Indians) he met with "very few cases of deformity."
It is important in this connection, that we take account of the fact that there was no tuberculosis, anemia, leukemia, rickets, no hunch-backs, no bow-legs, no idiots or lunatics, no defective teeth, no deaf and dumb, and almost no deaths either of mother or child in child-birth, and few skin "diseases" among the Indians before the white man "civilized" them--that is, clothed them, gave them "firewater" to drink, cooped them up on reservations and taught them to eat white bread, salt-bacon, black coffee and sorghum molasses. Rickets and tuberculosis, like scurvy, should be regarded as "deficiency diseases," largely due to lack of sunlight. Rickets is said to be unknown in light-loving animals.