Air and Light Baths
Even among the adherents of Nature Cure there are those who think
that air and light baths should be taken out of doors in
warm weather only and in winter time only in well-heated rooms.
This is a mistake. The effect of the air bath upon the organism
is subject to the same Law of Action and Reaction which governs
the effects of water applications.
If the temperature of air or water is the same or nearly the same
as that of the body, no reaction takes place, the conditions within
the system remain the same. But if the temperature of air or water
is considerably lower than the body temperature there will be a
In order to react against the chilling effect of cold air or water,
the nerve centers which control the circulation send the blood to
the surface in large quantities, flushing the skin with warm, red,
arterial blood. The flow of the blood stream is greatly accelerated,
and the elimination of morbid matter on the surface of the body
is correspondingly increased.
What Is the Cause of Poor Skin Action?
Man is naturally an air animal. He breathes with the pores of
the skin as well as with the lungs. However, the custom of hiding
the body under dense, heavy clothing, thus excluding it from the
life-giving influence of air and light, together with the habit
of warm bathing, has weakened and enervated the skin of the average
individual until it has lost its tonicity and is no longer capable
of fulfilling its natural functions.
The compact, almost airtight layers of underwear and outer clothing
made of cotton, wool, silk and leather prevent the ventilation of
the skin and the escape of the morbid excretions of the body. The
skin is an organ of absorption as well as of excretion; consequently
the systemic poisons which are eliminated from the organism, if
not removed by proper ventilation and bathing, are reabsorbed into
the system just like the poisonous exhalations from the lungs are
reinhaled and reabsorbed by people congregating in closed rooms
or sleeping in unventilated bedrooms.
Who would think of keeping plants or animals continuously covered
up, away from the air and light? We know they would wither and waste
away, and die before long.
Nevertheless, civilized human beings have for ages hidden their
bodies most carefully from sun and air, which are so necessary to
their well-being. Is it any wonder that the human cuticle has become
withered, enervated and atrophied, that it has lost the power to
perform freely and efficiently its functions of elimination and
absorption? Undoubtedly, this has much to do with the prevalence
In the iris of the eye the atrophied condition of the skin is
indicated by a heavy, dark rim, the so-called scurf rim. It signifies
that the skin has become anemic, the surface circulation sluggish
and defective, and that the elimination of morbid matter and systemic
poisons through the skin is handicapped and retarded. This, in turn,
causes autointoxication and favors the development of all kinds
of acute and chronic diseases.
The Importance of the Skin as
an Organ of Elimination
Of late physiologists have claimed that the skin is not of great
importance as an organ of elimination. Common experience and the
Diagnosis from the Eye teach us differently. The black rim seen
more or less distinctly in the outer rim of the iris in the eyes
of the majority of people has been called the scurf rim, because
it was found that this dark rim appears in the iris after the suppression
of scurfy and other forms of skin eruptions and after the external
or internal use of lotions, ointments and medicines containing mercury,
zinc, iodine, arsenic or other poisons which suppress or destroy
the life and activity of the skin.
Therefore, when we see in the iris of a person a heavy scurf rim,
we can tell him at once: "Your cuticle is in a sluggish, atrophied
condition, the surface circulation and elimination through the skin
are not good and as a result of this there is a strong tendency
to autointoxication, you take cold easily, and suffer from chronic
catarrhal conditions." Therefore, a heavy scurf rim frequently
indicates what is ordinarily called "a scrofulous condition."
This certainly shows the great importance of the skin as an organ
of elimination and the necessity of keeping it in the best possible
condition. It explains why an atrophied skin has so much to do with
the causation of disease and why in the treatment of both acute
and chronic ailments air and cold water produce such wonderful
The favorite method of diagnosis employed by Father Kneipp, the
great water cure apostle, was to examine the skin of his patients.
If the "jacket," as he called it, was in fairly good condition,
he predicted a speedy recovery. If he found the "jacket"
shriveled and dry, weakened and atrophied, he shook his head and
informed the patient that it would take much time and patience to
restore him to health. He, as well as other pioneers of the Nature
Cure movement, realized that elimination is the keynote in the treatment
of acute and chronic diseases.
When Air Baths Should Be Taken
On awakening in the morning and several times during the day,
if circumstances permit, expose your nude body to the invigorating
influence of the open air and the sunlight.
During the hot season of the year and in tropical countries the
best time for taking air and sun baths is the early morning and
the late afternoon.
Persons suffering from insomnia or nervousness in any form are
in nearly every case greatly benefited by a short air bath taken
just before retiring, either preceding or following the evening
sitz bath, as may be most convenient.
Where Air Baths Should Be Taken
If at all possible, air baths should be taken out of doors. Every
house should have facilities for air and sun baths, that is, an
enclosure where the nude body can be exposed to the open air and
If the air bath out of doors is impracticable, it may be taken
in front of an open window. But indoor air, even in a well-ventilated
room, is more or less stagnant and vitiated, and at best only a
poor substitute for the open air.
It is the breezy, moving outdoor air, permeated with sunlight
and rich in oxygen and ozone, that generates the electric and magnetic
currents which are so stimulating and vitalizing to everything that
draws the breath of life.
This is being realized more and more, and air-bath facilities
will in the near future be considered as indispensable in the modern,
up-to-date house as is now the bathroom.
We predict that before many years the roofs of apartment houses
will be utilized for this purpose and people will wonder how they
ever got along without the air bath.
Our sanitarium has two large enclosures on its roof, open above
and surrounded on all sides by wooden lattice work, which allows
the air to circulate freely, but excludes observation from neighboring
roofs and windows and the streets below. One compartment is for
men and one for women, each provided with gymnastic apparatus and
a separate spray room.
How Air Baths Should Be Taken
At first expose the nude body to cool air only for short periods
at a time, until the skin becomes inured to it.
Likewise, unless you are well used to the sun, take air baths
of short duration, say from ten to twenty minutes, until your skin
and your nervous system have become accustomed to the influence
of heat and strong light. Prolonged exposure to the glaring rays
of the noonday sun might produce severe burning of the skin, aside
from a possible harmful effect upon the nervous system.
The novice should protect head and eyes against the fierce rays
of sunlight. This is best accomplished by means of a wide-brimmed
straw hat of light weight. In cases where dizziness results from
the effect of the heat upon the brain, a wet cloth may be swathed
around the head or placed inside a straw hat.
It will be found very pleasurable and invigorating to take a cold
shower or spray off and on during the sun bath and to allow the
air to dry the body. This will also increase its electromagnetic
effects upon the system.
The Friction Bath
While taking the air bath, the skin may be rubbed or brushed with
a rough towel or a flesh brush in order to remove the excretions
and the atrophied cuticle. The friction bath should always be followed
by a spray or a cold-water rub.
At the time of the air bath, practice breathing exercises and
the curative gymnastics appropriate to your condition. (See Chapters
Twenty-Eight and Thirty on "Correct Breathing" and "Physical
If the air bath is taken at night, before retiring, the less active
breathing exercises, as numbers 1, 3, 7 and 13, may be taken with
good results, but all vigorous stimulating movements should be avoided.
As the plant prospers under the life-giving influence of water
and light, so the cuticle of the human skin becomes alive and active
under the natural stimulation of water, air and sunlight. From the
foregoing paragraphs it will be seen why the air and light baths
are regarded among the most important natural methods of treatment
in all the great Nature Cure sanitariums of Germany.