Color and Light Therapy, Does it Work?

Chelly Picone c.2017
Photo courtesy of Chelly Picone

Have you ever worn clothing in your favorite color because it made you happy, or taken a walk outside on a sunny day to cheer yourself up? These forms of mood boosters, using color and light, are what some health practitioners believe are viable ways to help people feel better…but do they really work?

Color therapy, also known as chromotherapy, according to Wikipedia, is an alternative medicine method that uses light in the form of color to balance “energy” lacking from a person’s body. Studies began as early as the 1800s with the use of color and light for medicinal purposes. Although color therapy has been deemed a pseudoscience, as it cannot be proved with the scientific method, some health-care providers continue to believe color therapy is a good complimentary treatment in combination with other therapies.

Phototherapy or light therapy, according to the Mayo Clinic, entails exposing patients to light as treatment. In some cases when the sun is not present a “light box” device can be used to deliver specific wavelengths of light. Unlike color therapy, light therapy has been proven effective and is shown to improve different types of disorders. The Harvard Health Blog reported that light therapy is at least as effective as antidepressant medications for treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Light therapy uses high intensity light to influence the brain’s chemicals to alleviate sleep and mood disorders. This therapy works on disorders like SAD, depression, sleep issues, skin disorders and dementia.

People should still seek medical advisement before beginning light therapy as it can trigger hypomania or mania in people with bipolar disorder. Light boxes that have incorrectly modified doses can even damage the eyes and skin of patients . This therapy also does not work for everyone as some people need brighter light while others may be too sensitive to bright lights altogether.

Chelly Picone c.2017
Photo courtesy of Chelly Picone

Regardless of the research showing color therapy to be ineffective, people still seem to think colors hold some weight on our emotions. Healthcare Design Magazine published the article, Healing Hues: Choosing Paint Colors for Healthcare, in which they interviewed Jackie Jordan, the director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams. Jordan emphasized the importance of color balancing in healthcare settings. Depending on the type of health facility and patients, generally cool colors like blue and blue-greens tend to be more calming adding a sense of tranquility but is best balanced with some warmth using neutrals, beiges and warm wood tones for a sense of tranquility.

From colorful murals on buildings to vibrant art hanging in your living room, there’s no arguing a little color and light have some positive effect of people. What do you think?

For more color inspiration, visit Chelly Picone’s Instagram.


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2 thoughts on “Color and Light Therapy, Does it Work?

  1. Absolutely! Orange always makes me happy! I am not sure it can change my mood when I am feeling gray but it sits on the sidelines cheering me on anyway. I also love smells to calm or lift me up and of course lights make a difference, hence the amount of depressive symptoms in some people in the winter are overcome by light. J

    Liked by 1 person

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