Dark Times: Light and Health

December 16th, 2017







“…we can now say emphatically, that the function of our entire metabolism is dependent on light.”

– Dr. Fritz Albert Popp



The shadow rises


Here in the Northern hemisphere, we have reached the nadir of our light cycle. The earth has turned its back about as far as it can from the sun before turning back again. The Scandinavian countries in particular are all too familiar with this time of year.


For all but the most northerly areas, the snow has yet to fall consistently enough to remain and perform the service of reflecting and magnifying the available light – both from the sun by day and electrical sources at night. The daylight hours themselves are very short.



The deep North


In December at Stockholm’s latitude, the sun doesn’t bother to lift its head above the horizon much before 9am and has already sunk beneath it well before 3pm. The further North one travels, the more extreme that balance becomes.




I remember a conversation with a small hotel owner in the far North of Sweden where he was explaining how, in the winter months, the sun never breached the horizon at all.  Of course, on fine evenings the Northern Lights put on a beautiful show of light and colour but I asked him how one coped without the direct sunlight in the daytime.  Using the typically economical and dry humour of the North, he merely pointed to a large satellite TV dish on the roof of his hotel.

Light adjustments


Obviously, getting out of bed on a December morning in these conditions is a very different prospect to doing the same in say, July. After all, our body’s internal biorhythms are driven by light cycles so when that alarm rings to get up on a morning when every cell of our body is screaming at us for waking it so early (relative to the light) it makes for considerable physical and emotional discomfort.


At these relatively extreme latitudes (compared to the rest of the populated world) one would think adjustments in time schedules would vary accordingly. Surely work times would start later – synchronised with other institutions like day care centres and schools. Actually, no. The cookie cutter, one size fits no-one work/play template remains the same, year round.


It will come as no surprise then that illness and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD – aka: depression and related disorders from lack of light) rise significantly at these latitudes during autumn and winter.

The mechanism of light and the body in health


Here’s the thing: we are literally beings of light. Up until a relatively short time ago the theory that our body generated light (photons) was discredited and scientists proposing such theories like Fritz Albert Pop 1 were bullied out of their academic tenures as a result.


Now, the idea that we both receive and generate light has gained popularity. Books by researchers like Dr. Jacob Liberman have popularised this concept.


The most recent research coming out of Germany is even more compelling. It’s a little dense so let’s take a deep breath: recent Phd, Alexander Wunsch, continuing on the work of Prof. G. Albrecht-Buehler 3 has demonstrated that cells navigate towards light sources: two centro-zones att right angles to the nine tubules at the nucleus of the cells. It seems probable that the centrozones mediate the microtubulli in this movement. Internal light then, facilitates the very centre of life-sustaining metabolic processes.


So, we are light generators. We can also absorb and leak light too. This has profound implications for our health.





Leaking light


In 2015, I participated in the International Light Association’s annual conferance in Tallinn, Estonia. I attended a lecture confirming the work of Fritz Albert Popp that demonstrated healthy cells stored photonic energy (light) while diseased cells (due to trauma, inflammation or cellular change like cancer) leaked photons much like a damaged fishing net let the fish escape.


It seems our light-generating body can absorb or leak light in health and disease. Another lecture by Prof. Tina Karu 4 from the Russian Academy of Sciences demonstrated that our body is finely attuned to biolight sources – in particular the sun and monochromatic frequencies of light.



Turning off the dark…


So what does all this mean to the souls suffering in the Northern dark at this time of year? In the most basic sense, we become ’light-starved’. Our metabolic processes at a cellular level slow down. Now, what does that sound like? Ahh, yes: hibernation.



The trouble is we don’t hibernate… If anything, winter is a time when people work more. This comes from the misguided and relatively new notion that one must work in winter to free up time for a long summer holiday. The very notion of a ’summer holiday’ is a flagrant distortion of Scandinavian history however.

The history of Scandinavian ’holidays’


If one goes back in time around 150 years or beyond, most of Scandinavia was an agrarian (farming) society. In the summer, children were sent home from school – not to holiday, but to help their family with the busy work of farming life at that time of year.


Winter, by contrast, was a relatively quiet time. The harvest was over. The vegetables were stored in the root cellular or conserved and pickled. The wood was chopped. The fish was salted or pickled. The ’moonshine’ home brew was distilled. Apart from the occasional hunting expedition for fresh meat and some basic maintainence and mending winter was spent in quiet contemplation and rest.


People arose from sleep later, went to bed earlier and indulged in the odd nap or two in between. Apart from gazing meaningfully into an evening fire with a glass of something with suspiciously high alcohol content, eventually followed by an equally meaningful glance at one’s partner before retiring to bed, the pace of life was much slower than the busy, work-filled daylight seasons. (For more on the energy of this time of year and how it affects the body click here.)
The Christmas season filled this darker time with warm-toned lighting and decorations, celebration during advent and plenty of warm food and drink. This is what helped give Christmas the classic winter appearance we know today.




So what happened? The industrial revolution and the migration to city life meant we lost touch with the natural cycle of the seasons and began to navigate by mechanistic, man-made schedules instead. We no longer listened to our inner clock and our body began to ring the alarm through becoming depressed and sick. Literally, the light began to leave us light beings.


Now we suffer through overwork and light starvation in the hope that summer will cure our self abuse. And if the summer disappoints, this leads into an even more negative spiral the following Autumn/Winter.





Symptoms of light starvation
Here are few symptoms telling us we are low on light:


  • Chronic tiredness and difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Sweet and carbohydrate cravings/addiction
  • Chronic, high consumption of caffeine and stimulants
  • Alcohol cravings
  • Chronic low immunity leading to low grade inflammation and related, recurring illnesses like colds/flu, joint pain and the like.
  • Mental negativity and depressive states making us anti-social and needing to withdraw from outer life.


Addiction to negative light sources like mobile devices, computers and television is another hidden symptom. The screens from these devices generate an overdose of blue light (masquerading as white light with the aid of phospherous but don’t be fooled – the brain still registers it as blue light).


While blue light in itself is stimulating – which is one reason it attracts us –  too much of it is over-stimulating and we become tired and burnt out as a result. Think of it as the ’junk food’ of our light diet.




A light in a dark place


So what can we do about this dark state of affairs? Here are a few suggestions for healthy light habits:





  • Where possible, adjust our schedule so we work less (or at least begin later) in the winter. Even if this means working a little more in the summer we will still have more than enough daylight then to enjoy after work.
  • Get regular treatments with monochromatic light during the dark time of the year. (Quick plug: If you are in Stockholm you can book a time for this here.)
  • Avoid fluorescent light where possible. In the evening, avoid overhead lighting and use ground level illumination, preferably incadescant light in the warmer yellow/orange spectrum. Even better, light a fire if you have a fireplace and candles (if the room ventilation is effective).
  • Take a walk outside in the daylight hours. Even weak, winter light is many times stronger than inside lighting
  • Cultivate the art of the afternoon power nap. Our cortisol (stress hormone) levels will be reset, we will be much more alert in the early evenings and sleep better at night.
  • Where possible, plan time away in a sunny environment/country to reload our solar batteries
  • Use the ’Yin’ phase of winter and use the nighttime hours to be effective and creative while resting more in the day. The energy of winter is with the night and lunar cycles.



Light and shade
We need to make a conscious effort to listen to both the cycles of nature and our body. While this is always good advice, it is particularly important for those living in extreme latitudes.


We cannot reasonably expect to shoehorn ourselves into year-round templates and continue to feel good. This is tantamount to self-abuse. Life has its light and shade. We contain light and shade too. If we don’t nourish our light the dark side will only be too happy to take over.



Till another Monday that finds the balance between the ’day’ and the moon of every Mo(o)nday.



1. Popp.F. et al: Biophotons. Kluwer, Dordrecht. 1998

2. ’Light Medicine of the Future’, Jacob Liberman OD. PhD.

3. Albrech- Buehler, G.: Rudimentary forms of “cellular vision”. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 8288-8292, 89, 1992

4. Action Spectra: Their Importance for Low Level Light Therapy. Tiina Karu, Laboratory of Laser Biomedicine, Institute of Laser and Information Technologies, Russian Academy of Sciences



© Jeremy Halpin all rights reserved. All images are the author’s own unless otherwise indicated or if the original source is unknown at the time of writing. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the page – or share it on the social media of your choice. If you have any wishes or questions regarding subjects to be discussed on this blog use the contact information below. Jeremy is also available for seminars, lectures and personal consultation: info@jeremyhalpin.com

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