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Colour Therapy – History and Uses

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Colour therapy is a system where coloured light is used to treat disease and disorder

In our journey towards holistic health and wellbeing, it’s essential to explore the profound effects that our environment has on us, particularly the impact of light. Coloured light therapy, an emerging field with growing scientific support, offers fascinating insights into how different wavelengths of light can influence our physical and mental health.

This article provides general information of what to expect when you visit a therapist, and a general theory behind how the discipline works. It must be noted, however, that every therapist works in an individual way, and may subscribe to slightly different theories on how the discipline works. It is always advised that you ask to see relevant qualifications and discuss the treatment offered to you by the practitioner if you are in any doubt whatsoever.

What is colour therapy and what is the explanation behind this approach? 

When exposed to light, such as daylight, humans are affected in a variety of different ways, the theory is that we respond to the light’s magnetic radiation. White light is actually made up of wavelengths that are perceived by the brain as colours. Colour therapists believe that every cell and organ in the body vibrates at a particular frequency and so do colours. It is believed by practitioners that it is by identifying which colours are needed by the body to regain balance and by subjecting the body to that particular colour source, that healing apparently takes place.

What to expect when you visit a colour therapist

You will be asked a series of questions regarding your medical history and questions will be asked about your lifestyle too. These include questions of diet, exercise, alcohol intake, smoking habits, and so on.

In order to decide on which colours you need for the treatment you will normally be asked about which colours you are naturally drawn to. Other therapists claim to be able to ‘see’ which colour you need, while others will ask you to pick three coloured-cards from a selection of eight. Another way of finding out which colour you need, is for the therapist to run their finger up and down a ‘colour spine chart’ for it is claimed that each vertebrae is represented by a different colour and that each vertebrae also corresponds with a particular part of the body. Therapist may ‘dowse’ for which point on the spine they feel the problems lies. There are eight colours in total that are repeated at the end of every sequence.

The colour(s) you ‘need’ can be applied in a variety of different ways. You normally keep your clothes on for colour therapy treatments, with the treatment requiring you to sit or lie in a darkened room in front of a computer-controlled machine that emits coloured light. The therapist may choose to use a crystal torch, which is like a small pen that shines different coloured light, at the end of which is quartz tip. The application of this light is used on specific areas. Another method used by therapists is draping lengths of coloured silk over you while you lie down.

With all the above methods, you will not only receive the colour you need but also its complementary colour too, this ensures a balance within body.  So, if purple were the main colour used in your treatment, then you will also be subjected to its complementary colour – yellow.

Each visit can last from 20 minutes to an hour, with your first visit always taking longer because of the consultation questions about health and lifestyle. The number of sessions you need is for you and the therapist to discuss, although the average is around seven visits.

History (in brief)

Professor Harry Wohlforth at the University of Edmonton, Canada, demonstrated that colours affect us by showing that the colour yellow increased children’s learning ability, that red and yellow are highly stimulating colours, and that black and blue were calming.

1973 US researchers found that bathing in red light for 30 minutes caused heart rate and blood pressure to rise. Blue, on the other hand, decreased it.

1947 Dr Max Lüscher – the Swiss psychologist discovered that specific states of mind and physical illness relate to colour.

1948 West German researchers found that the IQ of students rose when pupils were put in a classroom where the predominant colours were yellow, red, and orange.

Light Therapy in conventional medical settings

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Light Therapy

A notable application of light therapy is in the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that surfaces during the darker months of fall and winter. Light therapy, which involves exposure to bright, artificial light that mimics natural outdoor light, has been shown to alleviate symptoms of SAD. This therapy works by influencing brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing SAD symptoms.

Blue Light Phototherapy for Neonatal Jaundice

A remarkable example of the therapeutic use of coloured light is blue light phototherapy, widely used in hospitals for treating neonatal jaundice. This condition, characterized by high levels of bilirubin in the blood, causes yellowing of the skin and eyes in new-borns. Under blue halogen or fluorescent lamps, the light waves absorbed by the baby’s skin and blood aid in breaking down bilirubin, facilitating its elimination from the body.

The Dual Nature of Blue Light

Beyond neonatal care, research indicates that blue light can have beneficial effects during daytime hours. It’s known to enhance:

  • Alertness
  • Attention
  • Reaction time
  • General mood

However, it’s essential to be aware of the double-edged sword that blue light represents. At night, exposure to blue light can be detrimental, disrupting our circadian rhythms by suppressing melatonin production, the hormone crucial for sleep regulation.

Navigating Light Therapy Safely

While embracing the benefits of coloured light therapy, it’s crucial to approach it with mindfulness, especially concerning blue light exposure. Limiting screen time before bed and using blue light filters can mitigate its negative effects during evening hours.

Further Reading and Resources

To deepen your understanding of light therapy and its applications, I recommend the following resources:

  1. National Health Service (NHS) website: Offers comprehensive information on SAD and light therapy.
  2. Journal of Clinical Neonatology: Provides detailed studies on neonatal jaundice and phototherapy.
  3. Harvard Health Publishing: Offers insights into the effects of blue light on sleep and mood.

Coloured light therapy represents a fascinating intersection between natural health and technological advancement. Its ability to influence mood, treat specific medical conditions, and regulate biological processes highlights the importance of environmental factors in our overall health strategy. As we continue to explore and understand these natural health interventions, let us do so with an informed and balanced approach.

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