Full Spectrum Light Therapy: A Brief History
The use of sunlight or full spectrum light as part of a treatment for ailments ranging from skin conditions to tuberculosis dates back to around 1500 B.C.The ancient Greeks also used a natural sunlight treatment known as heliotherapy in combination with healing herbs as a regular form of medicine. Of course no one can claim to have discovered sunlight, but the modern practice of light therapy as a way to closely replicate daylight and bring its lighting capabilities indoors has been undeniably beneficial.
Verilux Pioneers Daylight Lamps & Full Spectrum Light Boxes
In 1991, amidst a flurry of interest in using full spectrum light therapy to treat a number of ailments, Verilux began experimenting with bright, full spectrum light inside a box. It was at this time and with extensive experimentation that Verilux pioneered the "daylight lamp" and the full spectrum light box.
Several years later in 1997, Verilux began selling light therapy boxes and making them available to people suffering from seasonal related mood disorders. The first was called a Nutralux (for "nutrition" and light") and was significantly heavier than Verilux's current HappyLight models (the Nutralux weighed 15 lbs whereas the HappyLight Compact only weighs 1.5 lbs).
Since this time, light box therapy has been used for decades with enthusiasm by millions.It has also grown in popularity with improvements in technology and an outpouring of success stories over the years.
Science of Full Spectrum Light
In general, full spectrum light's usefulness ranges from providing task lighting for artists, writers, readers and photographers to providing healing properties for physical and mental health-related issues through light therapy.
Its health benefits are particularly powerful during seasons with shorter days and in regions with less sunlight. Almost all plants and animals need regular exposure to full or natural spectrum light to maintain biochemical balance and optimal health.
Unlike ordinary indoor lighting, full spectrum light includes all colors in the electromagnetic wavelength, from infrared to ultra-violet, visible and non-visible (note that all Verilux light therapy lamps are manufactured to be UV-free).
On the light color temperature scale, pitch black darkness like at nighttime is 0 K (K = Kelvin), and daylight at around noon is around is a bright 5,000 - 5,500K. Whereas the soft, warm light bulbs in your home typically have a color temperature of just 2,700 - 3,000K.
Verilux light boxes use a full spectrum light bulb that mimics daylight at 6,500K and provide a light intensity of 10,000 lux, which is the clinical standard for effective light box therapy for treating seasonal mood disorders (see more on the specific type of light therapy that Verilux specializes in below).
The Many Uses of Full Spectrum Light
The health benefits of full spectrum light and its many uses are widely accepted. There are many different types of treatments for various ailments; including skin conditions like acne and psoriasis, cancer, and neonatal jaundice. Additionally, full spectrum light is used in daylight lamps to grow plants in places where the temperature and/or natural sunlight limits the outdoor growing season.
Verilux specializes in the type of light therapy that is used for enhanced mood, increased energy, better concentration, mood disorders like seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and winter blues, regulating circadian rhythm, sleep disorders, jet lag, shift work, and general light deprivation due to lifestyle (which is common in today's high-tech, indoor society). Verilux's uniquely designed HappyLight models provide effective and comfortable full spectrum light therapy for these issues, and the scientific community is routinely exploring new applications for this type of light box therapy.
A 2005 study examined the plethora of research-based evidence for light therapy's effectiveness for treatment of seasonal affective disorder and depression and found "a significant reduction in depression symptom severity."† And in fact, it also found that the effects were "equivalent to those in most antidepressant pharmacotherapy trials."
† Am J Psychiatry. 2005 Apr;162(4):656-62.