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Light bath, Europe, 1890-1920

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So-called ‘light baths’ like this were a form of light therapy. This is also known as heliotherapy. Treatments involving light and colours were claimed to improve a number of ailments, including diabetes, rheumatism and meningitis. John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943) was famous for breakfast cereal, but he developed one of the first ‘electric-light baths’. Kellogg believed the light caused the skin to fill with blood. This then drew blood away from swollen areas and sick organs. The blood was also believed to be ‘fixed in the skin’ by cold water for a lasting effect. Such claims proved fanciful. However, light is proven to help conditions such as psoriasis and acne, as well as some sleep disorders.

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Glossary: phototherapy

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Glossary: light bath

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