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August 2016

Sun Exposure in History

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida
JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(8):896. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.5660

The sun has long been viewed as an object of amazement and reverence for various cultures throughout history. Dozens of ancient societies have worshipped the sun as a source of life and nourishment, and many designed their temples specifically to let in sunlight. The Chinese introduced the art of morning sun gazing, integrating it into exercises such as tai chi. Even yoga has strong ties to sun exposure; the sun salutation originates in India as part of an old Hindu practice. In addition to worshipping the sun god Ra, the ancient Egyptians were the first to report health benefits of sun exposure as early as 6000 years ago. Ancient Greek, Roman, and Arabic civilizations similarly recognized its therapeutic value.1 This global appreciation of the sun as a source of health has since permeated into western medicine.

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