Light cast by the moon is 500,000 times less bright than the sun. This light, reflected from the sun, presents a distinctive spectrum composed of more reds and yellows, and possesses a different frequency than sunlight. This specific light spectrum has never been artificially duplicated.

Reflected light from the moon is critical to a variety of life-processes on Earth. Peer-reviewed studies, scientific publications and anecdotal evidence provoke fascinating questions about the positive effects of exposure to moonlight.

Studies reveal that certain single-celled bacteria can be revived from dormant or “dead” states by a measured exposure to moonlight. Ayurvedic healing therapies rely on coral calcium that has been treated by exposure to moonlight for 15 days. Terrestrial and aquatic plants and other species have long been studied for their distinctive responses to moonlight.

Mortality: Research has indicated a correlation between lunar cycles and both overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality in humans. A Romanian study has shown a significant increase in both kinds of mortality two days before the first lunar quarter and two days before the last lunar quarter. Further research has shown a correlation between moon phases and the risk of hemorrhage during surgery. These findings beg for further research to be conducted into this fascinating correlation with potentially huge implications for bioscience and medicine.

General Therapy: Extensive research has shown that different wavelengths of light have beneficial therapeutic effects at the cellular level. Different tissue and cell types in the body each have their own particular light absorption dispositions (they will only absorb light of a specific wavelength); therefore different frequencies of light have distinct benefits and applications. These applications extend from treating problems such as wounds, scars and infections to arthritis to acupuncture and much more.

Clinical Depression and SAD: The literature is unequivocal about the efficacy of light therapies in treating certain kinds of depressive disorders. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and other forms of clinical depression have demonstrated the therapeutic value of light therapies and will benefit from significant amounts of research time.

Circadian Rhythms: Research suggests that exposure to nocturnal illumination may have the ability to influence circadian rhythms and length-of-day cycles.

Melatonin: Research has demonstrated that several creatures, such as rabbitfish, show altered melatonin levels in response to exposure differing moonlight intensity. Melatonin in humans is related to sleep cycles and has been used in treating sleep disorders. Melatonin is also one of the “building blocks” the brain uses in manufacture of the neurotransmitter serotonin; low levels of serotonin in the brain have been associated with depression (see above).

Aging and Alzheimer’s: The above-mentioned research into circadian rhythms and sleep cycles may well have an application in the study of aging as well. Irregular sleeping patterns caused by the natural changes in our circadian rhythm as we age can affect memory, metabolism and general state of mind. In cases where light therapy has been used to reduce circadian rhythm disturbance in patients with in early-stage Alzheimer’s-type dementia, an improvement in mental state and quality of life has been noted.

Cancer and Photodynamic Therapy: Early research into photodynamic therapy (PDT) proves promising. In this type of therapy, a photosensitizing agent is introduced into the body either via the bloodstream or topically (depending on the location of the cancer). Once the agent is absorbed, a light is applied to the area. The light activates the photosensitizing agent, causing it to react with oxygen and produce a chemical which kills the cancer cells. Though not a viable treatment for all types of cancer, this exciting new therapy has several advantages over traditional radiation treatments and surgery in that it is less invasive/scarring, can be applied more than once to the same area and can be focused on a very specific area.

Xeroderma Pigmentosum: The Xeroderma Pigmentosum Society describes this malady as “a rare genetic defect in ultraviolet radiation induced DNA repair mechanisms characterized by severe sensitivity to all sources of UV radiation (especially sunlight).” For people with this disease, even brief exposure to sunlight can lead to cancerous tumors; however, XP patients, sometimes called “moon children,” are able to go outside in the moonlight. ILA is hopeful that research will find a physical or mental benefit for these patients through alternative spectrum exposure.


Biology and Photodynamics

Coral: Many species of coral spawn in synch several nights after the full moon. Recent research suggests that these species are unusually sensitive to the blue region of the light spectrum, allowing them to sense the blue wavelengths in moonlight. As coral becomes increasingly endangered, further research in this area will be invaluable if we are able to discover a way to aid or expedite reef growth.

Reproductive Cycles: Evidence shows that lunar phases have a powerful effect on the reproductive cycles of many marine animals, including many shellfish, the palolo worm, the Japanese crinoid and the lugworm. The Interstellar Light Collector could aid further research into these organisms; ultimately, this could lead us to greater understanding of not only their life cycles, but of human life cycles and circadian rhythms.

Water: Though we have long been aware of the moon’s influence on the oceans’ tides, some researchers believe that the moon’s influence on water in general is much vaster than we presently understand. Water has the capacity to respond to extremely subtle gravitational changes, as observed in connection with moon phases. Our increased understanding of these responses encourages further research into the full effect the moon has on biological organisms – plant, animal and human – whose systems contain and rely on large percentages of water.


Reading List/References

Bentley, MG; Olive, PJW, and Last, K. Sexual satellites, moonlight and the nuptial dances of worms: the influence of the moon on the reproduction of marine animals. Earth, Moon and Planets 2001 85-86: 67-84.

Davis, J. Water: Communicator in moon-earth relationships. Earth, Moon and Planets 2001 85-86: 127. [Web document] Light therapy

Evans JA; Elliott JA and Gorman MR. Circadian entrainment and phase resetting differ markedly under dimly illuminated versus completely dark nights. Behavioural Brain Research Jul 1, 2005; 162 (1): 116-126.

Gorman, MR; Evans JA and Elliott, JA. Potent circadian effects of dim illumination at night in hamsters. Chronobiology International 2006; 23 (1-2): 245-250.

Gorbunov, MY and Falkowski, PG. Photorecptors in the cnidarian hosts allow symbiotic corals to sense blue moonlight. Limnology and Oceanography Jan 2002; 47 (1): 309-315.

Gorman, MR; Kendall, M and Elliott, JA. Scotopic illumination enhances entrainment of circadian rhythms to lengthening light:dark cycles. Journal of Biological Rhythms Feb 2005; 20 (1): 38-48.

Morgan, E. The moon and life on Earth. Earth, Moon and Planets 2001 85-86: 279-290.

Naylor, E. Marine animal behaviour in relation to lunar phase. Earth, Moon and Planets 2001 85-86: 291-302.

Nemeth, AJ. Lasers and wound healing. Dermatologic Clinics 1993; 11 (4).

Rahman, MS; Kim BH; Takemura, A; Park, CB and Lee, YD. Effects of moonlight exposure on plasma melatonin rhythms in the seagrass rabbitfish, Siganus canaliculatus. Journal of Biological Rhythms Aug 2004; 19 (4): 325-334.

Schad, W. Lunar influence on plants. Earth, Moon and Planets 2001 85-86: 405-409.

Sibata, CH; Colussi, NL; Oleinick and Kinsella, TJ. Photodynamic therapy: a new concept in medical treatment. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research August 2000; 33 (8): 869-880.

Smith, KC. The photobiological basis of low level laser radiation therapy. Laser Therapy Jan-Mar 1991; 3 (1).

Strestik, J; Sitar, J; Predeanu, I and Botezat-Antonescu, L. Variations in the mortality with respect to lunar phases. Earth, Moon and Planets 2001 85-86: 567-572.

Takemura, A; Susilo, ES; Rahman, MDS and Morita, M. Perception and possible utilization of moonlight intensity for reproductive activities in a lunar-synchronized spawner, the golden rabbitfish. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A – Comparative Experimental Biology Oct 1, 2004; 301A (10): 844-851.

Young, S; Bolton, P; Dyson, U; Harvey, W and Diamantopoulos, C. Macrophage Responsiveness to Light Therapy. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine 1989; 9: 497-505.