When we speak about the quality of light and its importance to the well being of all living organisms,
the contributions of Dr. John Ott stand out above those of other researchers in the field.

— Dr. Jacob Liberman
LIGHT: Medicine of the Future


Dr. John Ott

 Photo-biology Pioneer

Dr. Ott’s “day-job” was that of a banker, with horticulture and time-lapse photography as hobbies. These hobbies soon sprouted into a pioneering career in the new field of photobiology; the study of light on living cells.

While working as a consultant for the Walt Disney “Secrets of Life” film series, Dr. Ott found that he could not successfully grow plants indoors under commonly used artificial lighting. His research found that all living organisms need the full spectrum of light provided by the sun in order to thrive. His cinematography of flowers blooming in such classic documentaries as Disney’s Secrets of Life (1956), pioneered the modern use of time-lapse on film and television.

Dr. Ott eventually turned his attention towards monitoring the beneficial effects of full spectrum lighting on certain human physiological conditions. Dr. Ott discovered that the color temperature of lights affects mental health, with balanced light reducing hyperactivity in classrooms and reducing negative behavior in prisons and mental health facilities.

Dr. Ott discovered that even an individual cells’ ability to properly reproduce in plants, animals and humans is affected by variances in lighting. Most importantly, he realized that light entering the body through the eyes controls and regulates our brain chemistry which in turn affects how we feel and function.

In addition to writing three books and volumes of research, Dr. Ott also published a series of seven articles in the International Journal of Biosocial Research (Tacoma, Washington), a medical journal that studies links between physical and mental health. Titled Color and Light: Their Effects on Plants, Animals, and People, the articles summed up Dr. Ott’s decades of independent research, which was contrary to the established “wisdom” of pharmaceutical companies. These companies were “scaring the daylight out of us” by promoting the sudden negative effects of natural sunlight. These companies claimed that the sun was now dangerous to our skin and eyes and that we need to protect ourselves with their expensive sun screen lotion.

At the time, Dr. Ott’s research efforts generally met with polite indifference from the scientific community but he soon began to attract attention from a wider public audience including an emerging trend of clinicians and medical professionals who recognize and align with his theory of Mal-illumination… the silent epidemic.

John Ott Vitae


The Silent Epidemic

Since the beginning of human history people have lived, worked and played outdoors during the light of day, active and vibrant, absorbing the full spectrum of light energy photons from the sky. An average of 10 hours each day, 70 hours weekly, was common for eons. But in less than a mere two hundred years, millions of people have unwittingly become “contemporary cave dwellers” living and working indoors. The full spectrum of sunlight energy, that our genes are programmed to respond to, is essential for the development, growth, and maintenance of not only a healthy body, but critical for a healthy mind as well. This dramatic reduction of natural light exposure, and its’ domino-effect disturbance to vital light regulated circadian rhythms, was coined “mal-illumination” by the late Dr. John Ott, the father of full-spectrum light technology. 

Mal-illumination is brought about by limiting our daily intake of full-spectrum daylight and supplementing it with too much artificial limited-spectrum indoor light, especially at night, and by shielding ourselves from the sun with such things as tinted windows, windshields, sunglasses and suntan lotions. Mal-illumination silently contributes to many adverse health issues and some are quite serious — obesity, depression, fatigue, sleep & eating disorders as well as breast, prostate and colon cancer. Like malnutrition, mal-illumination causes deficiencies by depriving us of the sun’s vital ‘energetic nutrient’ wavelengths which enter the body through the eyes and skin. Sunlight striking the skin manufactures natural vitamin D while light entering the eyes regulates vital circadian rhythms that control appetite, energy, mood, sleep, libido and other body-mind functions. 

Fact is — humans are photobiotic ‘solar beings’ — all of us are absolutely dependent on the absorption of radiant, solar energy. Every metabolic process, every enzyme reaction, muscular movements, the digestion of food and the burning of fat are all biological processes that are augmented by sunlight energy. A reduction of ‘natural light energy’ causes a slowdown in these processes that leads to decreased metabolism, reduced burning of fat, reduced vitality and compromised immunity.

The human body functions much like a green plant, collecting energy from the atmosphere. The nervous system may be described as a network of electrical wires which conduct photons of light energy. Light energy is collected by the skin and eyes; converted into photocurrent and channeled throughout the entire nervous system. This photocurrent is then distributed to the internal organs and cells via the individual nerves. In addition to activating sight in the visual cortex, photocurrent also travels to the brain’s main control center, the hypothalamus. Informed by photocurrent, the hypothalamus then helps regulate brain chemistry, essential hormones and circadian rhythms.

The current Age of Information has caused a radical shift away from nature’s health regulating solar energy. Unwittingly,  millions of people are now starving for the sun’s life energy and suffering from Mal-illumination… the silent epidemic.

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Your Body Cycles

Circadian Rhythms

All humans are synchronised to the rhythmic light-dark changes that occur on a daily basis. Rhythms in physiological and biochemical processes and behavioural patterns persist in the absence of all external 24-hour signals from the physical environment, with a period that is close to 24 hours. These rhythms are referred to as ‘circadian’, from the Latin ‘circa diem’ (‘about a day’), and are attributable to internal biological clocks, driven by a major circadian pacemaker in the brain. The circadian pacemaker is entrained each day to the 24-hour solar cycle, which is the major ´zeitgeber´ (literally time-giver). Other zeitgebers are food intake, activity, or social cues, e.g. the alarm clock.

Good temporal entrainment allows for optimal performance at the right time of the day, because being able to anticipate future tasks allows the appropriate physiological and psychological preparation. However, our modern society often imposes deviations from the natural light-dark cycle which results in problems with entrainment. Failure to adapt to environmental and societal time cues (being out of rhythm with nature) leads to misalignment of internal biological clocks. This disentrainment comes with enhanced risk of errors and accidents, loss of productivity, and health risks such as increased propensity for cancer, depression, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal, metabolic and cardiovascular disorders, reduced immune responses and even decreased life span.


Our Mission
  • To educate the public about Mal-illumination and to raise awareness of the essential need for natural light for health and wellness.
  • To create a nationwide, sustainable K-12 scholastic performance and wellness grant program.
  • To share freely our many years of research into the biological effects of light on human health & behavior.
  • To provide the necessary technology for the eradication of the silent epidemic… Mal-illumination.


Light is to Mal-illumination as Food is to Malnutrition

— Dr. John Ott
photobiology pioneer