Sun Lamp for Seasonal Health

For years since I moved to the Pacific Northwest, I have tried various methods of light therapy in the cold, dark winter months. And I’m pleased to share with you a setup that actually works at a very attractive price.

What I’ve Tried

My earliest attempt was a CFL full spectrum bulb. I bought one while living in the dormitories at college around 2009, and used it in my desk lamp.

cfl full spectrum bulb test vs other methods

Read to the end to discover the the 100-year old lost technology that ranks 5 out of 5 suns! 

I’d hoped it would wake me up in on sluggish mornings during the winter months where it was so difficult to get out of bed and to class. The idea is that unlike standard indoor bulbs, the spectrum of light emitted more closely resembles natural sunlight.

I don’t recall it making any difference for me, so I discontinued use after a few months.

Years later, I tried the experiment again with powerful LED grow lights. What makes them different from CFL is that some of the LEDs emit UV radiation, just like the sun. 

I had better results using these, but even high-wattage bulbs use less than 40 watts of power. And they got so hot that the casing would melt off the LED after a few weeks. They also emit an unnatural pink light that is not pleasant for long-term use.

The results were not compelling enough to justify my long-term use, so these too eventually fell out of use.

Official FGI ranking: 2.5 out of 5 suns

Why is it so Hard to Find Light Therapy that Works?

Here is where my article dives fearlessly into controversy.

Since the 1980’s, we’ve been gaslit into believing that sunlight, specifically in the UV range, is dangerous. This has been a boon for the 10 billion dollar sunscreen industry. This product, which is applied to all exposed parts of the skin is advertised as blocking “harmful UV rays.”

But just how harmful are UV rays, really?

It seems to me that peoplekind have for millennia basked unprotected in the blazing gleam of our sun. However, the big sun boogeyman “skin cancer” is a fairly recent human health development. How can we reconcile this strangeness?

I’m no medical specialist, but I’ve watched some youtube videos. So I understand there is a growing field of research into the many, many benefits of supposed “harmful UV rays”


What’s missing in all the bulbs you can buy for light therapy, or “heliotherapy” is UV radiation itself. Because it is so “harmful,” the products are not even available for purchase.

… or are they?

They are. But they are sold to keep the health of our scaly friends, not us.

lizard basking in light

Now doesn’t that look luxurious?

I promise you, it is.

The bulbs used for pet lizards to help them not get sick are a technology called mercury vapor. An older style, the mercury arc lamp was used in the early 1900’s for children suffering from rickets. The technology eventually made its way into vit-D fortified milk, and use of the lamps went out of fashion.

But in the year 2023, the old is new again, and I will bring these lamps back into fashion.

Here’s a quick 2:30 video from the only other guy on the internet brave enough to point the harnessed sun on his unprotected skin.

Inspired by this hero’s courage, I purchased a 160-watt mercury vapor bulb of my own.

But rather than risk 70$ on a possible failed experiment, I bought a knock-off from Amazon for 35$  

Our friend in the video used his bulb in a standard IKEA lamp, rated at around 14 watts. So his experiment was cut drastically short when his lamp fried. He’s lucky it didn’t start a fire. Do not use a 160-watt bulb in a standard lamp fixture.  Instead, purchase a purpose-made reptile clamp-lamp. The one I bought is rated to 150-watts and has been working fine.

Oh, I’m sorry – did I say one? Because I’ve already bought 3. The mercury vapor bulb has far surpassed my expectations. After just 2 days, I’ve discovered my energy levels are off the charts for this time of year. I’m accomplishing in a day what I was mid-june.

And I look like it, too. I’m getting comments on my sun-bronzed skin, because it looks like I just got off the plane from a vacation in Arizona.

After just a few days moving the clamp lamp around to evenly give each section of my skin equal treatment, I bought a second for the added convenience. I then sold the second to a friend who without hesitation joined my new reptile cult after feeling the lamps effects. Because the thought of just having one lamp was unacceptable, I immediately bought a third which Amazon is due to deliver today.

Official FGI ranking: 5 out of 5 suns! Our recommendation is to buy several!

BUT!! Join the Cult at your Own Peril!

I am absolutely not to be held liable for you misusing the 36$ sun linked above and get terrible beet-run burns, skin cancer or whatever other scary effect “health authorities” are promising you will surely be afflicted by when allowing your skin to be exposed to UV radiation. So do your own legwork like I did, read the research, watch the videos, become well informed about your own health needs.

For me, I feel like I’ve discovered the fountain of youth.  I used the lamps moderately at first, allowing my pink skin to toughen into a light tan, then gradually increased lamp exposure over time. I’ve found that 3 hours in a day is no problem. I have yet to get a serious burn anything like the one I get in early summers, or any peeling at all.

Pay attention to what your skin communicates to you. I the lamps stops feeling luxurious like the lizard in the picture, and starts feeling uncomfortable, discontinue use and wait a day or two.

Additional Resources

My favorite video on the topic of sunlight and health is the excellent presentation given by Dr Michael Holick for Boston University. The 54 minute video is packed with facts back to back, I found myself fully engaged from beginning to end.

My favorite fact from the video is that sun exposure is scientifically proven to decrease all types of cancer, including skin cancer.

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