Color Healing for Pain Relief

Pain Support on Your Journey

Healing color flowers

Early on in my healing journey, I was part of a pain support group on the Upper East Side with Dr. Sunshine. Support groups for chronic pain are very helpful. Join one if you are able.

After many weeks I noticed one woman complained of terrible pain when she was wearing red. A very fashionable woman, she looked great in red. But when she was not in red she did not complain of pain. 

Notice your triggers – Color can be a trigger

Finally, I mentioned what I had noticed to her and the group. To make a long story short; she was actually negatively triggered by the color red.  Because of an acute trauma that she suffered. fashionable woman in red

That experience made me realize color played a more significant role in my day-to-day experience than I thought.  

It’s essential in your healing journey to find what colors are relaxing and make you feel calm. Or even make you have an upbeat mood.

There are Principles of Trauma-Informed Design

  • Reduce or remove environmental stressors
  • Engage the individual actively in a dynamic, multi-sensory environment
  • Provide ways for the individual to exhibit their self-reliance (ability to do things for himself or herself )
  • Provide and promote connectedness to the natural world
water Do you have a Happy Place in your mind?

For example, I particularly like my memory of being able to float in the warm, clear turquoise tropical sea. The water was healing, but even more critically, as I floated looking up, there was a beautiful powder blue sky. It was a very particular blue that I will never forget. That blue color I associate with healing to this day. 

What are your healing colors?

The Trauma-informed Design Guidelines and Recommendations: Color

  • Avoid deeply hued warm colors (i.e. red, orange, yellow) that may arouse negative emotions.
  • Cool colors (i.e. blue, green, purple) have a calming effect.
  • Lighter-colored rooms are perceived as more open, less crowded (“spatially available”), and thus safer and more calming.
  • Avoid the use of arousing colors in confined spaces to help reduce feelings of crowdedness.
  • Avoid stark white walls.

Learn what colors are difficult for you to look at and be around. In New York City, almost everyone dressed in black. Some people say black is a very relaxing color. Everyone looks good in it. You look are said to look thinner in black.  But does black make you feel healed?

Principle One of the Pain Processing Practice 

As always it is up to you to notice and observe your reactions, which is  Principle One of the pain processing practice.  Then you decide.

many colorsMaybe wear black or maybe not. That color for me didn’t make me feel better. After experimenting, I found that if I wore something purple or blue, I was calmer and in fact had an easier time breathing. And if I saw a lot of green, especially natural greens I was in less pain.

Research demonstrates looking at plantings or even just green, calms. It could evoke a memory of a time when we were living with green all around us.

The natural world is not where we reside today

man with flowers on grassNow we live inside, inboxes. And we’re not seeing those colors that are most healing for us. Nor the colors that make us calm. 

Colors are known to affect people with emotional troubles or those brain disorders.

Blue has a calming effect, which results in lower blood pressure.

The color red could have the opposite effect.

Green is another color used to relax emotionally unbalanced people. Yellow is used to help invigorate people who are suffering from depression.

We see color all the time all around us.

But how often do we think about its effects? 

Culture Roots to color perception

How you feel about color is profoundly personal and from your own experience and culture.

For example, in many Western countries, white represents purity and innocence. In the East, it is a mourning color. Color is both light and energy. It is visible because it reflects, bends, and refracts through different particles and objects. A variety of wavelengths are categorized, producing various kinds of light. The visible spectrum has visible wavelengths falling in the 390 to the 750-nanometer range. Colors are specific wavelengths of electromagnetic energy seen through our eyes. The color we see is only part of the visible spectrum that is reflected by a particular object.

Color Therapy – Chromotherapy

Chromotherapy or light therapy or color therapy is a type of holistic healing. It uses the visible spectrum of light and color to affect mental or physical health. Colors fall into a specific frequency and vibration. Many people believe that contributes to particular properties used to modify the energy and frequencies within our bodies. Surprisingly, little research is on color’s influence on psychological functioning. But more research is becoming available and it is proving that color has an influence on human health. 

For example, research has demonstrated that the colors of flowers are very healing. So remember to bring flowers the next time you visit the hospital. 

sunset

Connect with the sun

Have we ever noticed how much watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset relaxes us after a long day? That is because it is very therapeutic. People delight in the visional, marvels consciously and unconsciously. 

Light enters through our eyes and our skin.

Given the unique frequencies and vibrations of various colors, specific colors entering the body can activate hormones. They are thus causing biochemical reactions within the body, influencing emotion and enabling the body to heal.

The sun, the source of light, or lack thereof, has a profound effect on us. For eons, we have known light and color play a significant role in creating a particular mood or state of mind. Color does affect your feelings, moods, and emotions. It is essential to notice the effects.

The long history of exploring color

Color therapy, popular since antiquity is evolving with scientific research. Thousands of years ago, countries around the globe began exploring color and its healing capabilities. Egypt, Greece and China are well known for their forays into color healing and therapy.

Ancient Color healing 

Evidence exists of people attempting to use color for healing and therapy from as far back as 2000 years. The healer Pleneus, in Ancient Rome, recommended precious red stones to stop bleeding.

In China, healers cured with yellow. For example, stomach discomforts by gently massaging the patient’s belly with yellow. 

what is pain practicing process image 2Within Eastern healing traditions, there is a chromatic interpretation of the chakras and human energy system, in which each chakra associates with a particular characteristic color, and that the exposure to specific colors can have a health-enhancing effect. 

Color healing has gained popularity throughout the years, with numerous books written about it, including a very famous one from 1810 by Johann Wolfgang Goethe. He studied the physiological effects of color for years. 

Noticing Color

Have you ever seen how much watching a beautiful sunset or doing an activity suchcolorful ballons as drawing calms you after a long day? 

It is very therapeutic. Studies prove that coloring, even as an adult, has tremendous benefits to calm and soothe.

We use sight as a primary sense and do not even think about something as simple as the color of a room and how it affects us. 

Each color has a specific frequency and vibration.

That contributes to particular properties that affect the energy and frequencies within our bodies. Color healing throughout time and place is implemented differently. Great halls of color healing, were built in ancient times. Individuals entered those halls and were bathed in light filtered through various colored glass panels or windows.

Color is everywhere you look and wherever you don’t look. You delight in its marvels consciously and unconsciously.

You see color all around, but how often do you think about its physical effects? 

Simply color is light and energy influencing emotion and enabling the body to heal. Colors can help jump-start a fatigued or diseased body. But still today, some people are skeptical about using color and light. Since we already do experience color in daily life, it is better to be aware of how we incorporate it. 

Decide what your healing colors are.

Color is such an essential part of life without it ever being an effort to use it. Pain can increase from outside triggers. Consider always wearing color and can never wear black, because it merely drains. You can feel so heavy and stagnant. Daily I wear the colors that I feel are healing. Whatever that means for each day, I can put on a dress and take it off immediately because the color just doesn’t feel right. Despite the fact, it was the right color a few days ago. 

colored starsI love deep vibrant colors. Still, there are days I need soft pastels and other days lots of bold and other days, just the one consistent color.

At first, I thought the ‘soothing’ feeling was because blue is my favorite color. But this is real therapy. Color changes your mood by changing your biochemistry, so look at a beautiful sunset and stay for the solarization.

Kirlian Photography

Kirlian photography is a way to bring the detection of colors beyond the subjective realm of intuitive healers. It makes a reproducible scientific methodology. The origin and meaning of the patterns produced by objects on photographic films in the presence of high-voltage electric fields are noted. This way of investigation is ongoing and we are learning more each day. These patterns could represent the human energy field, auras and chakras. 

Light and energy

 In Western society, the scientific understanding of light as electromagnetic energy, and of color, as being determined by its frequency has made using color a particular type of therapy. The possibility that the energy of light interacts with and affects a living organism created modern color-spectrum therapy. It became popular in 1877 when Englishmen Dawns and Blunt discovered the ability to cure rickets with ultraviolet light. The ultraviolet radiation (which is a component of sunlight) enables a biochemical reaction in the skin that produces vitamin D, correcting the vitamin deficiency that causes rickets and we now know many other conditions.

SADorange juice sad

The depression associated with the dark months of winter (called seasonal affective disorder) SAD. It is alleviated by exposure to a suitable artificial light source that mimics sunlight. Exposure of the retinas to this light seems to be influential; the therapeutic mechanism may involve brain chemistry (neurotransmitters) affected by this exposure. Thus, there is a scientific basis for the idea that light can improve a person’s health and well-being. 

Light – Electrical Signals

It is well established by studies that electrical signals accompany biochemical processes and metabolism in both the body and brain. Those electrical signals can be detected – for example, with electrocardiograms and electroencephalograms. The refinement of scientific instruments now allows the characterizing of chakras and associated energy fields that have figured in Eastern healing traditions for thousands of years. 

Dr. John Lieberman discovered that while the ray of light passes along the optic nerve, it splits into two parts. One of the shafts creating the visual image of the object in the brain. The second one is affecting the hypothalamus, the organ responsible for maintaining heart rhythms, body temperatures, and emotions, such as joy and fear.

Different colors – you react differently hormonally

Your brain reacts differently to different light. The endocrine system stimulates the production of various hormones depending on color exposure.

A shortlist is below:

  • Orange light stabilizes kidney function and aids in living with diabetes.
  • Greenlight improves the function of the cardiovascular and blood systems and helps with pain. 
  • Blue light calms the nervous system and contributes to reducing depression. Blue light activates the melanopsin photoreceptor system. That, in turn, enables the brain structures involved in sub-cortical arousal and higher-order attentional processing. Exposure to blue light facilitates alertness and enhances performance on tasks requiring sustained attention.
  • Red increases passion, potency and physical strength, while violet rejuvenates us with the help of hormones of that color, such as melatonin.
  • But all color effects undoubtedly each person depending on certain conditions – culture, gender, age, type of task, a variant of color, etc. acquiring an understanding of these is essential to creating more useful therapies. 

 Why is green healing?

fern unrolling

The link between green light and pain is being explored by researchers now. Research at Harvard Medical School looked at light sensitivity, known as photophobia, a common symptom of migraines.

This research showed that green light is significantly less likely to exacerbate a migraine compared with other colors. Plus, in some cases, it can decrease the intensity of the headache and can “trigger positive emotions” during migraines. 

Walking in a green environment induced a significant reduction in heart rate values as compared to the red and white conditions. Although researchers found no differences in gait speed, this corroborates the calming and relaxing effect of green on humans in contrast to colors like red, which are associated with intense or negative feelings.

The visual system and pain

green gardenWhatever effect is happening to decrease pain is taking place through the visual system. For example, a 2017 study tested the impact of the opioid reversal drug naloxone on rats that were exposed to green light. After using the drug, there was a complete reversal of the pain-relieving effects of the green LED. Since the endogenous opioid system might be involved, green light therapy is working in multiple ways, various mechanisms working toward a common goal.

The interaction between light and pain

healing sunlight
Enjoy 15 minutes in the sun

This link is a promising area of research, but the science is not complete; therefore, doctors don’t expect that green light will become a primary treatment for chronic pain soon. Some sufferers convinced that color affects them. And are using it as an essential variable in modulating their pain.

Medical professionals have tended to use drugs, not thinking about intervening in the physical environment.

A research group is looking at photosensitivity in veterans with chronic pain. Some with traumatic brain injury and the researchers are using MRIs to see how they process light compared with those without chronic pain. The theory is that photosensitivity could be a predictor of chronic pain. For example, specific cells that facilitate pain responded to a flashlight in a dark lab.

Migraine sufferers 

Migraine sufferers are sensitive to environmental stimuli. But the problem for science to find what in the environment stimulates the migraine. Plus, what in the situation could change that would still be beneficial. This environmental stimuli study is a challenging field of study because colors are all around us. 

Positive results from pain sufferers who spend time with just a green light may relate to spending less time with irritating lights, like the blue glow of computers and phones.

Color Spectrum – Color Prism

When all colors join the result is white light. Therefore, working with White Light brings about completeness, oneness, and the union of all parts.

How Colors Affect Us

front door with plantersColor is one of the languages of the soul, just look at inspired or meditative paintings. They influence our mood and emotions. They have an impact on our sense of well-being or uneasiness.

Using and avoiding specific colors is self-expressive; it sheds light on our personality.

Your perception is changed by color (light colors make a space look big, a high ceiling looks less high when painted in a dark color, etc.)

Are you welcomed or repelled? 

Symbolic Meaning 

Colors have a symbolic meaning, which is immediately recognized by our unconsciousness. Not all colors mean the same thing to everyone in all cultures. Influencing the flow and amount of energy in your body color has individual and unique effects.

Colors say something about biological attraction and sexual availability.

man and woman close in lightSome alternative therapies state a person’s aura contains different layers of light. Those layers are used for cleansing and balancing.

Knowing the colors in your aura can help you better understand your spirit, and thus help you better understand how to heal. 

Change your surroundings to heal you

Additionally, the colors surrounding you can also have various effects. A few examples of using color for healing include;

  • cindy in helen's kitchenUtilizing colors in nature in their surroundings (sky blue, ocean blue, green from grass, etc.)
  • Painting rooms different colors for treating certain conditions.
  • Healing rooms that used crystals to break up sunlight shining through the windows.
  • Coloring books 
  • More or less color contrast and clutter

A healing color case study. 

When Helen was going through a depression and couldn’t sleep properly at night, she tried all sorts of lifestyle changes and nothing worked.  It was time to paint her room, and she chose a light periwinkle color.

Helen was stunned because after a few days, she started sleeping well, and she started feeling relaxed and calm. It is incredible how that easy color change helped!

Color therapy is simple and easy to overlook when it comes to pain 

Don’t 

All these color techniques are simple (in fact, deceptively so), easy to perform, and very effective. If you can dedicate a few minutes daily soon, you will feel more energetic, invigorated, radiant and happy.

Recommended Books About Healing Color Therapy

Light Years Ahead: The Illustrated Guide to Full Spectrum and Colored Light in Mindbody Healing

by Brian Brailing

Advanced Pranic Healing: A Practical Manual for Color Pranic Healing

by Choa Kok Sui

Principles of Esoteric Healing

by Dion Fortune

Health and Well-Being : Color, Color Healing, Healing with Colour : A Complete Guide to Restoring Balance and Natural Health among others

by Lilian Verner-Bonds

The Healing Power of Colour-zone Therapy: A Step-by-step Technique for Treating the Body Through Pressure Point Massage and Colour Therapy, Healing with Color Zone Therapy

by Joseph Corvo and Lilian Verner-Bonds

References

Researchers Explore A Drug-Free Idea To Relieve Chronic Pain: Green Light  https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/12/15/787138928/researchers-explore-a-drug-free-idea-to-relieve-chronic-pain-green-light

Light Emitting Diodes Bring Relief to Young Cancer Patients http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/technologies/led_treatment.html

Red Alert: Science Discovers The Color of Sexual Attraction

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/insight-therapy/201301/red-alert-science-discovers-the-color-sexual-attraction

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Azeemi, S. T., & Raza, S. M. (2005). A critical analysis of chromotherapy and its scientific evolution. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2(4), 481–488. https://doi.org/10.1093/ecam/neh137  

Briki, Walid & Majed, Lina. (2019). Adaptive Effects of Seeing Green Environment on Psychophysiological Parameters When Walking or Running. Frontiers in Psychology. 10. 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00252. 

Elliot A. J. Color and psychological functioning: a review of theoretical and empirical work. Front Psychol. 2015;6:368. Published 2015 Apr 2. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00368

Elliot A. J., Maier M. A. (2014). Color psychology: effects of perceiving color on psychological functioning in humans. Ann. Rev. Psychol. 65 95–120 10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115035

Fetterman AK, Liu T, Robinson MD. Extending color psychology to the personality realm: interpersonal hostility varies by red preferences and perceptual biases. J Pers. 2015;83(1):106–116. doi:10.1111/jopy.12087

Feltman R., Elliot A. J. (2011). The influence of red on perceptions of dominance and threat in a competitive context. J. Sport Exerc. Psychol. 33 308–314.

Goethe W. (1810). Theory of Colors. London: Frank Cass

Hill, R., Barton, R. Red enhances human performance in contests. Nature 435, 293 (2005) doi:10.1038/435293a

Kuehni R. (2012). Color: An Introduction to Practice and Principles, 3rd Edn New York, NY: Wiley; 10.1002/9781118533567 

Martenson ME, Halawa OI, Tonsfeldt KJ, et al. A possible neural mechanism for photosensitivity in chronic pain. Pain. 2016;157(4):868–878. doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000450

Noseda R, Bernstein CA, Nir RR, et al. Migraine photophobia originating in cone-driven retinal pathways. Brain. 2016;139(Pt 7):1971–1986. doi:10.1093/brain/aww119

Noseda R, Copenhagen D, Burstein R. Current understanding of photophobia, visual networks and headaches. Cephalalgia. 2019;39(13):1623–1634. doi:10.1177/0333102418784750

Rossi, Heather L. PhD  Recober, Ana MD Photophobia in Primary Headaches 2015 https://doi.org/10.1111/head.12532

Vandewalle G., Schmidt C., Albouy G., Sterpenich V., Darsaud A., Rauchs G., et al. (2007). Brain responses to violet, blue, and green monochromatic light exposures in humans: prominent role of blue light and the brainstem. PLoS ONE 11:e1247 10.1371/journal.pone.0001247

 

 

 

 

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