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Have you ever wondered how colours can affect your mood and overall well-being? This phenomenon has been studied for centuries, and one of the therapeutic techniques that emerged from this research is chromotherapy. In this blog post, we will explore what chromotherapy is, what it does, and the colours used in medical chromotherapy.
Before we begin, you may also like reading up on the following resources to gain a better understanding of all the different types of light therapy:
Chromotherapy, also known as colour light therapy, is a complementary treatment method that uses the visible electromagnetic spectrum of light, which we perceive as colours, to regulate neurohormonal balance in the human brain.
Chromotherapy suggests that certain colours can either stimulate or suppress various physiological, biological, and biochemical functions in the brain, such as the production of neurohormones like melatonin and serotonin.
This is done by harnessing the visible spectrum of electromagnetic wavelengths, approximately 390 to 780 nanometres, to offer an effective non-pharmaceutical treatment.
What is Chromotherapy Used For?
Chromotherapy aims to restore balance by using specific colours of light to influence the production and regulation of neurohormones. By addressing the underlying neurohormonal imbalances, chromotherapy may help alleviate symptoms and improve overall mental health.
The human body has a natural biological clock, known as the circadian rhythm, which regulates our sleep-wake cycle and other essential physiological functions. This internal clock is located in a specialised group of brain cells called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) within the anterior hypothalamus.
When our circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can result in neurohormonal imbalances, leading to various psychiatric disorders, such as sleep disorders, depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research has shown that these conditions are often associated with marked alterations in melatonin and serotonin levels.
Does Chromotherapy Actually Work?
Yes, chromotherapy or colour light therapy works – according to multiple studies – to have a positive impact on both the autonomic nervous system and cognitive abilities. Let's explore two peer-reviewed studies that looked at the effects of coloured light therapy on the nervous system and cognitive ability.
Study 1: The impact of modulated, coloured light on the autonomic nervous system
This study involved 117 participants, who were exposed to three types of light projections containing specific colours and modulations in the frequency range of brainwaves, as well as a placebo projection consisting of non-modulated white light.
The results of the study showed significant differences in the effects of light-modulation projections compared to white light. These included decreased heart rate, increased heart rate variability, and decreased total mood disturbance.
Furthermore, different colours of modulated light resulted in different ANS effects. This study concluded that coloured light could significantly enrich the therapeutic potential of light, warranting further research into chromotherapy.
Study 2: Effects of Chromotherapy on the Cognitive Ability of Older Adults
This quasi-experimental study from the Philippines aimed to assess the effects of chromotherapy on the cognitive ability of older adults.
In this study, 135 older adults were divided into three groups, each exposed to red, green, or white lights. The cognitive ability of the participants was measured using an adapted Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE).
After the interventions, both the red and green light experimental groups showed a modest increase in cognitive ability scores compared to the white light group. However, there was no significant difference between the red and green lights post-intervention.
The study concluded that chromotherapy is effective in improving the cognitive ability of older adults, with red and green lights being more effective than white light.
The red light enhanced recall, attention and calculation, and language and praxis scores, while the green light improved registration, orientation, recall, and attention and calculation scores.
Based on the studies mentioned above, it appears that colour light therapy can have a positive impact, however, it's important to note that these studies represent only a small portion of the research conducted on chromotherapy.
Colour Therapy: What is an Example of Chromotherapy?
Different colours have different effects on our brain and body, and each colour in the visible spectrum plays a unique role in medical chromotherapy.
What do the Different Colours Mean in Light Therapy?
Some of the commonly used colours include:
Red: Known to stimulate and energise, red light can help increase blood circulation, heart rate, and respiration. It is often used to treat conditions such as fatigue, depression, and low blood pressure.
Orange: Orange light is thought to have a warming and uplifting effect on the mind and body. It may help to relieve muscle tension, boost immunity, and improve mood.
Yellow: Associated with mental clarity and focus, yellow light is used to stimulate the nervous system, enhance concentration, and alleviate symptoms of depression and SAD.
Green: Green light is considered calming and balancing, helping to reduce stress and anxiety while promoting emotional well-being. It may also aid in the healing process for various physical ailments.
Blue: Known for its soothing and relaxing properties, blue light can help lower blood pressure, ease muscle tension, and alleviate insomnia.
Indigo: Indigo light is believed to have a calming effect on the mind and body, promoting deep relaxation and meditation. It may also help in the treatment of sleep disorders and mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Violet: Violet light is associated with spiritual growth and self-awareness. It is often used in chromotherapy to promote emotional healing and personal transformation.
It's essential to note that chromotherapy should not replace conventional psychiatric treatments but may serve as a complementary approach to enhance overall mental health and well-being.
What Colour Light Therapy is Best for Anxiety?
Anxiety is a common issue faced by many individuals, especially when it comes to dental procedures. Incorporating colour light therapy, also known as chromotherapy, has been an established modality in medical science for various purposes. A recent study aimed to determine the best colour light therapy for patients experiencing anxiety during endodontic treatments. Let's take a closer look.
The Study: Chromotherapy and Anxiety in Dental Treatments
In this study, 90 patients were randomly divided into three groups using computer randomisation: Group 1 (Blue Light), Group 2 (Pink Light), and Group 3 (Control).
Patients were given a preoperative Modified Dental Anxiety Scale questionnaire, followed by an assessment of their heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure. Next, the patients in Groups 1 and 2 received colour therapy, while Group 3 did not. Assessments were conducted at three stages: preoperative, post-chromotherapy session, and after endodontic treatment.
Results: Blue and Pink Light Therapy for Anxiety Reduction
According to the study, after receiving chromotherapy and endodontic treatment, both the blue and pink colour therapies were found to have a significant reduction in anxiety compared to the control group. However, no significant difference was found between the blue and pink colour groups.
This suggests that both blue and pink light therapy can be effective in reducing anxiety levels in patients undergoing dental procedures.
The study's findings highlight the potential benefits of incorporating chromotherapy for anxiety reduction.
What is Colour Light Therapy for Mental Health?
Mental health is a critical aspect of our overall well-being, and finding effective treatments for psychological trauma, phobias, and panic disorders can be challenging. One promising approach that has emerged in recent years is auricular chromotherapy, a form of colour light therapy applied to the ears. Let's explore what auricular chromotherapy is, how it's used, and its potential benefits for mental health.
What is Auricular Chromotherapy?
Auricular chromotherapy is a non-invasive technique that uses coloured lights applied to specific points on the outer ear to treat various health conditions. While the exact mechanism of action is not yet fully understood, it is believed that this method may help stimulate the body's natural healing processes and promote relaxation.
The Study: Treating Trauma, Phobias, and Panic Disorders with Auricular Chromotherapy
The protocol was applied to 160 patients (135 who experienced traumas, 15 patients with specific phobias, and 10 patients with panic disorder), including 134 women and 26 men aged between 20 and 60.
After undergoing auricular chromotherapy, an impressive 93% of the participants showed a positive response to the treatment.
Conclusion: The Potential of Auricular Chromotherapy for Mental Health
The results of the study indicate that auricular chromotherapy could be an indispensable tool for physicians in treating psychological trauma, phobias, and panic disorders. With its relatively easy and quick technical application, this non-invasive procedure offers a promising alternative or complementary treatment for mental health conditions.
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What are the Benefits of Blue Light on the Physical Body?
Wound healing is a crucial aspect of our body's ability to recover from injury, whether it's a minor cut or a major surgical operation. One potential treatment option that has been gaining attention for its potential benefits in wound healing is blue light therapy (BLT). Let's explore the findings of a systematic review that investigated the impact of BLT on wound healing in preclinical and clinical subjects.
The researchers searched several online databases, including PubMed.gov, Google Scholar, Scopus, Web of Science, and Cochrane.
Results: Blue Light Therapy Shows Promise in Wound Healing
Out of 858 identified articles, the review included 17 articles in three distinct categories: two articles on humans, fourteen articles on healthy animals, and one article on diabetic animals.
The results indicated that some studies have shown the application of BLT on preclinical and clinical models of wound healing in vivo significantly accelerates the healing process. However, few studies have explored the bactericidal effect of BLT on skin injury repair in burn patients.
Conclusion: The Potential of Blue Light Therapy in Wound Healing
The systematic review suggests that BLT could potentially be an effective option for treating infected chronic wounds, including those in diabetic patients. However, further preclinical investigations are needed to provide a better understanding of the bactericidal effect of BLT using standardised protocols, different BLT wavelengths, and different stages of the wound-healing process of infected wounds and ulcers in healthy and diabetic animals before clinical trials can be considered.
Is Chromotherapy the Same as Infrared Light Therapy?
Chromotherapy is a complementary treatment to, yet distinct from, infrared light therapy (such as an infrared sauna), and red light therapy (LLLT or photobiomodulation).
Colour light therapy operates within the visible spectrum of electromagnetic wavelengths while infrared light rays exist outside of the visible colour spectrum.
The human eye cannot detect infrared light, but we do experience it as heat (e.g. sun rays).
In other words, chromotherapy is the application of coloured light while infrared light therapy uses heat.
The pure distinction between chromotherapy and infrared light therapy is that the wavelengths used in an infrared sauna (infrared light therapy) occupy the 780-1000 nanometres range and travel past the skin to reach muscles, nerves, and bones.
One variation to this is red light therapy which combines a specific wavelength of visible red light with another specific wavelength of invisible near-infrared light (heat) for further therapeutic effects.
Many users also use chromotherapy lights during an infrared sauna session for the simple, and enjoyable added wellness gains it provides.
All of the Clearlight® Sanctuary Sauna models come with medical-grade chromotherapy lighting, ensuring that your sauna experience is both relaxing and productive.
What is Chromotherapy Used to Treat?
As referenced in this blog with multiple clinical studies, light therapy, specifically colour therapy, has both a physical nature and psychological impact on the physical body. Colour therapy works in such a manner that affects the human body with real, physical energy, to impact heart and blood circulation – like how green affects blood pressure – and sore or torn muscles and chronic pain – with red light and warm colors impacting nerve-related conditions.
This fascinating application of light therapy continues to develop in many different areas of science and plays an important role in holistic health practice development by medically proving the positive effects of what used to be an ancient form of spiritual practice.
If you're interested in utilising medical-grade chromotherapy check out our range of full-spectrum infrared saunas that come with a coloured light therapy device pre-installed.