Lunar Therapy or Moonlight Madness?

Some people are traveling to the Arizona desert to bask in the moonlight, as part of a new alternative therapy that claims lunar rays can treat a number of conditions from asthma to depression.

Richard Chapin, the founder of Interstellar Light Applications near Tucson, Ariz., believes the moon has healing powers and first experimented with using moonlight to help a friend with cancer.

"It's rich in a full spectrum of blues and frequencies we need to help cure us," Chapin said.

Chapin, a lifelong science buff, admits there's no scientific proof lunar therapy works, but hundreds of believers have made the trek to the desert to try it.

During a full moon, a "moonlight collector," which stands taller than a five-story building and weighs more than 30 tons, uses 84 separate mirrors to capture the moonbeams.

Chapin says that just as the sun has a distinctive spectrum of light, so too does the moon.

He says reflected light from the moon is critical to a variety of life processes on Earth, and so he believes it could be helpful to humans.

Many doctors dismiss Chapin's theories.

"There is absolutely no data supporting it so we don't know if it works," said Ruth Quillian-Wolever, the director of research at the Duke University Integrative Medicine Center.

But many of the people who travel to Interstellar Light Applications say it has worked for them.

One cancer patient said she was looking for an alternative treatment and felt the moonlight therapy was helpful.

"I'm peaceful," she said. "Very calm and I feel more well being."

Chapin admits some of the effect may be psychological, but he hopes scientists will at least look into his alternative light therapy theory.

"Medicine is of course psychological and the placebos do work, but we have found truly a physical response also," he said.

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