There has been a huge amount of recent research into the healing effects of light on our bodies. What once seemed like the practice of fringe healers is now firmly moving into mainstream medicine. Various forms of light therapies have been around since ancient times. There are accounts of healing temples from ancient Egypt and Greece. According to an article by Tama Day: "The Ancient Greeks were the first to document both the theory and practice of solar therapy. Heliopolis, the Greek city of the sun, was famous for its healing temples, in which sunlight was broken up into its spectral components (colors), and each component was used for a specific medical problem. Color, being a manifestation of light, held a therapeutic, as well as divine meaning for these historical cultures."1
Modern light medicine got its biggest boost from the pioneering work of an Indian physician named Dinshah Ghadiali. Ghadiali did a great deal of research into the use of color light for healing after moving to New York in 1911. He trained over 800 professionals between 1920 and 1924. He got his start with light medicine in India, after a young woman with severe diarrhea caused by colitis was rapidly cured when light from a kerosene lantern, passed through an indigo-colored glass bottle, was shone onto her. The woman was also helped by drinking milk that had been in an indigo-colored bottle left out in the sun. The milk apparently taking on the healing vibrations of that color of light. Over the next 20 years, his group amassed many thousands of successful case studies showing the remarkable power of light healing for a wide range of human diseases. As has often been the case with innovators, Ghadiali was ordered by the FDA to shut down his teaching and equipment sales in 1947. His son continues an educational institute in New Jersey.
Light therapy has now come of age, redeeming Ghadiali's vision. Here are a few examples of recent research findings:
Eyesight: Most of us understand that we are able to see because our eyes receive light patterns, which our brains interpret as images. The retina is the tissue in the back of our eyes that consists of light-sensitive rods and cones that absorb various colors of light. It is also true that we "see" light throughout our whole bodies. Modern research is now confirming how this works. According to an article in the German medical journal Raum & Zeit, our bodies are loaded with light-sensitive flavin molecules called "cryptochromes," similar to those in plants.6 These are in our skin, blood, internal organs and elsewhere. The fact that these substances are throughout our bodies suggests that our bodies are full of light. This helps explain why light therapies that involve shining certain colors of light on the body, as Ghadiali and his colleagues demonstrated, have produced such positive results.
The call of the body/mind complex for needed colors can be seen as "color hunger." I have observed many people expressing a strong desire for a specific one of the 12 colors offered in my treatments. As that color was applied to points on their body, they experienced beneficial reactions, such as deep relaxation, mental clarity, increased energy or relief of various somatic symptoms.
My sense is that we have hunger for a certain color not because the color isn't within us, but more because we are blocking it for some emotional reason. For example, orange is a color of creativity and joy. If a young child was criticized each time she drew imaginative pictures, she may associate her creativity with criticism and pain, causing her to block her access to the color to avoid pain. Applying therapeutic orange light to her in the right setting may help her accept and get in touch with that child-like joy of creation again.
My sense is that we hunger for a certain color not because it isn't within us, but more because we are blocking it for some emotional reason. When applied to appropriate acu-points, orange light can act as a natural antidepressant. Blue light (the complementary, or opposite, color to orange) has anti-inflammatory effects on arthritis and burns, and is effective for calming nervous tension and overly charged emotional states. Therefore, we can adjust our moods and energy with color.
The light spectrum moves from the most warming and activating colors - infrared and red - to the most cool and relaxing colors - violet and ultraviolet. Green is the balance point of the spectrum, and so is extensively used for balancing brain and body function, and detoxification.
Most of the research studies cited here tracks the effects of light applied to broad areas of the body or the whole body. In my opinion, the most exciting frontier of light therapy involves more specific applications through sets of acu-points for more targeted effects. I have conducted extensive trials of the beneficial effects of color light therapy in combination with low-level electrical stimulation (microcurrents) for treatment of the acupuncture systems.
When applied in this more specific way, results have often been more profound than generalized light stimulation. It appears that light is a form of pure information. Acupuncture points also provide information to the body in regulating a myriad of functions when properly stimulated. Appropriate information input through the acupuncture network triggers the release of a complex cascade of neuropeptides, subtle electrical shifts through cell membranes and neural adjustments. There are also other beneficial mind/body effects of light that are harder to quantify with modern scientific methods. This is a field that surely will be an important part of the future of medicine, being highly effective, low-cost and safe.
Click here for more information about Darren Starwynn, OMD, LAc.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreement
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.