Moonbathing isn’t exactly what it sounds like. Though you could throw on a bikini and lay out on the deck at night, the term simply refers to exposing yourself to moonlight. An evening walk or a little post-dusk gardening will do the trick, especially during the full moon phase when the moon’s light is strongest. How you dress is up to you! The point is to get away from artificial lighting, with its potential negative health effects, and let your body absorb the moon’s soft glow.
Artificial lighting, especially nighttime exposure to the blue light emitted by electronics and energy-saving light bulbs, can disturb the body’s natural circadian rhythm and may even be a contributing factor in diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
Admittedly, the term sounds romantic and exotic — and maybe a little kooky. You sunbathe to get a tan, but beyond romance, what’s the purpose of basking in the moonlight? It turns out, moonbathing does have a purpose other than inspiring poets. Like sunlight, moonlight provides the body with vitamin D, mood-boosting endorphins, and nitric oxide that can help lower blood pressure. Regular exposure to moonlight may also offer health benefits, especially for women, such as:
- Regulating menstrual cycle
- Decreasing stress
- Increasing fertility awareness
- Cooling an imbalanced temperament
Moonlight is 500,000 times less bright than the sun, which may be why people are quick to disregard its benefits. Its ethereal light is truly a reflection of sunlight as it bounced off Earth’s moon. The moon emits cooler light than the sun, allowing people to absorb it for long periods without concerns about skin damage. Proponents of moonbathing point out that science can artificially reproduce sunlight. Light therapy and tanning booths can both substitute for sunlight when needed. However, the only way to get whatever unique benefits moonlight may provide is to spend time outside at night or open the drapes and let the moon come in.
Fertility And The Moon
From the days of ancient Egypt, the moon has been associated with cycles of fertility. The full moon, especially, was viewed in many cultures as the fertile peak of the moon’s cycle. Though hard data on the moon’s effect on fertility is admittedly scant, Dr. Christine Northrup is a scientific proponent of the idea. “Studies have shown that peak rates of conception and probably ovulation appear to occur at the full moon or the day before.”
She also reports that “environmental cues such as light, the moon, and tides play a documented role in regulating women’s menstrual cycles and fertility.”
What does this have to do with moonbathing? Proponents of moonbathing suggest regular exposure to moonlight can regulate the menstrual cycle, helping women to better plan — or prevent — pregnancy. The relaxing habit of moonbathing can also aid menstruation, fertility, and even childbirth by easing stress.
Laurie Edwards, RNC-OB has assisted with an average of 300 births a month in her 20+ years as a maternity nurse. Edwards says stress is a major factor affecting women’s menstrual cycles and fertility.
“Stress can affect the cycle by shutting it down,” she says.
It’s almost as if Mother Nature says, ‘No, it’s not safe to be fertile right now.’ Stress can also cause miscarriages. In the weeks after 911, we saw a rise of spontaneous abortions while working in the ER. Stress is a powerful factor in women’s health. I believe anything a woman can do to decrease or manage her stress will increase her fertility and overall health.
Get The Most From Your Moon Bath
Here’s a quick review of the process of menstruation, with the help of the Feminist Women’s Health Center:
- The release of a hormone called the Follicle Stimulating Hormone begins the menstrual cycle and is quickly followed by the Luteinizing Hormone. These two hormones trigger a release of estrogen which, in turn, causes the lining of the uterus to thicken.
- When the estrogen level reaches a peak, more hormones are released into the bloodstream. The surge of hormones causes the release of an egg, or ovulation, and the egg is carried into the uterus. This is the point of peak fertility.
- Somewhere between ovulation and menstruation, more estrogen, and now progesterone, are released in preparation for pregnancy. If the egg goes unfertilized, the arteries of the uterine lining close. Blood pools and forms the menstrual flow.
The average length of a cycle is 28 days, but some women have a longer or shorter cycle. Almost every woman experiences some disruption in her regular cycles through a lifetime. Occasional fluctuations are nothing to worry about. Chronic irregularity can be a symptom of a more serious underlying problem such as:
- Eating disorders, excessive exercise, and extreme weight loss
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Premature ovarian failure
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Uterine fibroids
Alternative medicine traditions offer some different ideas about the origin of menstrual irregularities. In Chinese medicine, practitioners look to diet, emotional health, and the state of balance in the internal organs and energy pathways or meridians. The liver, especially, is related to the reproductive organs because the liver meridian encircles them. According to Chinese medicine, damage to the liver itself or the organ’s chi (energy) can result in menstrual disorders.
Generally speaking, this Eastern healing tradition recognizes three main patterns of treatments for menstruation problems:
- Disharmony of Liver, Spleen, and Kidneys — This includes dysmenorrhea, and irregular periods. The treatment focuses on softening and nourishing the liver and blood to restore harmony.
- Excessive Heat Pattern — Includes heavy bleeding, anxiety, early periods, and feeling feverish. Treatment seeks to clear excessive heat and protect the Yin (feminine) essence.
- Excessive Cold Pattern — This pattern is diagnosed when there are delayed or very light periods, amenorrhea, cold limbs, and abdominal pain. Treatment focuses on warming the uterus and restoring balance to the blood circulation.
These days, the rampant toxins in our environment such as endocrine disruptors can also disturb our natural hormones.
Moonbathing, Menstruation, And You
In the Ayurvedic system of medicine, a 3,000-year old healing system from India, absorbing moonlight is said to cool Pitta doshas (a fiery temperament or ailments caused by too much heat in the body). A dosha is a metabolic type, and Ayurvedic medicine recognizes three of them, kapha, vata, and pitta. Both men and women can be categorized as any of the three doshas. People with a pitta dosha are said to have a large appetite — for life as well as food — and can suffer from excessive sweating, eczema, rashes, heartburn, and an over abundance of anger if out of balance. Moonbathing may be one enjoyable way to cool the heat of a pitta metabolism and regain personal harmony.
Dr. Northrup, a western physician, suggests many stress-related diseases could be eased if women’s menstrual cycles were more aligned with the natural cycle of the moon. And moonbathing may be a simple way to do that.
The theory suggests that women who practice moonbathing can naturally adjust their menstrual cycle to flow with the moon; meaning their “follicle stimulating and luteinizing” cycle would begin near the new moon, the ovulation and fertility peak would happen when the moon was full, and bleeding would occur when the moon was waning.
Before electricity, we were naturally exposed to more moonlight. Moonlight softly illuminated the rooms where we were sleeping. Today, most people select window coverings that prevent even a single shaft of light from peeking in, and few people spend time outdoors in the dark — and why should we when the indoors is so cozy and well-lit? The good news is, even city dwellers who don’t have regular access to natural light can still give moonbathing for menstruation a try.
In her article “How to Balance Your Menstrual Cycle With The Light Of The Moon”, Healing Arts Educator Kara Maria Ananda provides a simple formula for those who wish to try lunar alignment, it is called “lunaception.” Lunaception or “night lighting” means sleeping in a totally dark room (no LED clocks or other artificial lights) most nights of the month. During the three days of full moon, the day before, the day of, and the day after the official full moon date, night lighters should open the curtains and let moonlight come into the bedroom. According to Ananda, this can regulate the menstrual cycle in as little as a few months. Of course, spending time outside under the full moon is also recommended, but long exposure during the hours of sleep is needed for cycle adjustment.
Ananda also advocates for the fertility awareness method for family planning which relies on tracking your fertility cycle. The practice is much easier for women who are regular with the moon.
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Is Moonbathing Right For You?
Moonbathing is romantic, safe, and free There’s really no reason not to try it. Just promise you won’t use it as an alternative to medical care if are suffering from any serious issues.
Even if you’re not concerned about regulating your menstrual cycle with the moon — hello guys — you may find that quiet time spent under the moon’s silver glow gives you time to reflect, meditate, and cultivate a little more inner peace.
Tammie Burnsed is a dirt-worshipping, tree-hugging writer and artist living in–where else–California.
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