As an asthmatic child, in the 1950s, I was taken twice each week to the local cottage hospital for sessions of ultraviolet 'sun ray' treatment to ease my wheeze.
With the advent of inhalers and more advanced drugs, ultra-violet light therapy was abandoned as a medical treatment, but new research from Australia may rekindle interest in this natural therapy.
The research, which is described as a world first and was funded by the Asthma Foundation of Western Australia, was carried out at Perth's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research. It found that sunlight can markedly reduce the development, incidence and severity of asthma symptoms.
Using mice, the scientists measured the response of their airways to a common allergen and found that, after the animals had received a 15-30 minute dose of ultraviolet light, airway inflammation was significantly reduced.
Whilst this finding has yet to be tested on humans, it may have revealed yet another factor to explain why asthma rates have increased so dramatically in the last 50 years - a period during which people have begun to spend much less time outdoors.
Click here for more research on possible treatments for asthma
First Published July 2007
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