Modern science validates light and color
therapies in promoting full-spectrum health
By: Carolanne Wright
The ancient practices of phototherapy and
chromo therapy are gaining momentum as valid science. Researchers are now
able to study how light and color not only affect psychological behavior,
but also physiological systems of the body. An article in The New York Times
explores how color and light influence well-being in a variety of
circumstance; from prison cells to neonatal units, coal mines to classrooms.
Early use of light and color for healing
Phototherapy (utilizing full-spectrum white light for healing) and chromo
therapy (using specific colors to influence health) have been used since
2000 BC. Ancient Egypt, Greece, China, and India all practiced light therapy
while the Egyptians and Greeks also embraced color therapy. In the hermetic
traditions of Egypt and Greece, colored stones, minerals, and crystals were
used in chromo therapy. Treatment sanctuaries were also common. These spaces
were painted in specific colors recognized for their healing qualities.
The modern age of phototherapy and chromo therapy
As reported in The New York Times, light and color both powerfully affect
the body and mind. Take the color pink. When violent juveniles under
detention in San Bernardino County, California are placed in a cell painted
bubble gum pink, they relax, stop banging and yelling, and often times fall
asleep within 10 minutes. It is estimated that 1,500 hospitals and
correctional facilities throughout America have also implemented the shade
bubble gum pink in at least one room.
According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology nutritionist Richard J.
Wurtman, research has shown that individual colors influence respiration
rates, blood pressure, along with biorhythms and brain activity. Due to
these findings, color is used as a treatment for a wide-range of illness and
For instance, blue light has been used for the last decade in neonatal units
to treat jaundice. Approximately 30,000 premature babies each year in
America are treated with baths of blue light, thereby avoiding dangerous
In Russia, ultraviolet light is showered upon coal miners to prevent black
lung disease while classrooms utilize ultraviolet lamps. According to Faber
Birren, a leading color consultant, "children grow faster than usual, work
ability and grades are improved and catarrhal infections are fewer [when
exposed to ultraviolet light]." Additionally, ultraviolet light is used as
the standard treatment for psoriasis in the Untied States.
Full-spectrum white light has been shown to influence brain chemistry.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a stunning example of how a deficiency
of sunlight can cause severe depression. When a person who suffers from this
malady is exposed to full-spectrum light, either through the sun or an
artificial light box, SAD symptoms disappear.
Mr. Birren concludes in The New York Times:
"Perhaps these are new beginnings. The magical properties of light and
color, granted by men since the earliest of times, accepted, renounced and
accepted again through the ages, have forever held fascination. It would be
delightful, of course, if a thing of such psychological beauty - color -
also held a mundane role in human physiological well-being."