Appreciation for color doesn't seem to diminish as people outgrow finger paints or crayons. New car shoppers often express interest in the interior and exterior colors available to them and countless couples have argued over what color to repaint their bathroom. And a question for all of the past and near future bridesmaids out there; wouldn't you have rather chosen the color of your dress yourself?
Sometimes called color therapy, color healing, colorology, or chromopathy, chromotherapy is defined as a system of alternative medicine in which colors and their energy frequencies are used to correct psychological or physical imbalances. A more general definition states that chromotherapy is based on the premise that certain colors are infused with healing energies.
Whatever words are used to define chromotherapy, numerous sources concur that utilizing color for health treatments is a centuries-old concept.
In her book, Discover Color Therapy, Helen Graham, a lecturer in psychology at England's Keele University, wrote that "the ancient Egyptians and Greeks used colored minerals, stones, crystals, salves, and dyes as remedies and painted treatment sanctuaries in various shades of color." The Egyptians even built solarium-type rooms that could be fitted with colored panes of glass. When the sun shone through the panes, a person would be bathed in the color of the glass.
In India, practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine associated different colors with the seven chakras, which Anodea Judith, author of Wheels of Life: A User's Guide to the Chakra System, described as "centers of activity that receive, assimilate and express life force energy." According to Judith, "The word 'chakra' literally translates as 'wheel' or 'disk' and refers to a spinning sphere of bioenergetic activity emanating from the major nerve ganglia branching forward from the spinal column… It is the seven major chakras, stacked in a column of energy that spans from the base of the spine to the top of the head that correlate with basic states of consciousness."
Each chakra has a dominant color, but, according to the beliefs of the Ayurvedic healers, these colors can become imbalanced. The healers maintain that, if an imbalance occurs, disease and other physical problems can result. Introducing the appropriate color, however, can restore the balance and correct the health problems.
The first chakra, sometimes referred to as the Root Chakra, is located at the base of the spine. Its dominant color is red. In chromotherapy, red is considered to be the color of life, of the glowing sun, and fire. It has also been called the color of desire.
According to information in the Indian online magazine "Akhandjyoti", the color red has the "characteristic effect of stimulating the neurons, the adrenal (endocrine) glands, and the sensory nerves; it also enhances the circulation and reactivity of the blood." Some chromotherapists have allegedly achieved success using red to combat anemia, asthma, and diseases of the larynx, certain skin diseases, and chronic coughs. Other sources claim red can help with bladder infections and problems related to the reproductive system like impotence and low libido.
Regarded today as a "pioneer of modern color therapy," the Danish physician and scientist Niels Finsen reportedly used red light in the late 19th century to inhibit the formation of smallpox scars and speed healing in recovering smallpox victims. Finsen was awarded the 1903 Nobel Prize in medicine, and a medical institute in Copenhagen now bears his name.
Author and Metis shaman Charles Lightwalker wrote that "viewing red light has been found to increase subjects' strength by 13.5 percent and to elicit 5.8 percent more electrical activity in the arm muscles. For this reason, it is now used to improve the performance of athletes."
The second chakra, sometimes called the Spleen or Sacral Chakra, is located in the pelvic area. Its dominant color is orange, which symbolizes the rising sun and the warmth of the fire, as well as pride and prosperity. The color orange is believed to be beneficial in the treatment of arteriosclerosis, kidney and gallstones, hernias, appendicitis, low libido, depression, anorexia, and general weakness. It is also used to increase thyroid activity, relieve muscle cramps and spasms, and, after childbirth, stimulate milk production in new mothers.
The website PeacefulMind.com states that orange energy may help stimulate blood supply, energize the nerves, combat allergies, and help with stomach disorders. "If the Spleen Chakra is out of balance," the website declares, "our stomach is usually the first thing to warn us." Like red, orange is also reputed to be helpful to people with anemia, asthma, and skin problems.
Yellow is the color associated with the third chakra, which is located just above the belly button. This chakra is also known as the Solar Plexus Chakra. Symbolizing the sun at the horizon, the color yellow can help raise blood pressure and increase pulse rate but to a lesser degree than red can. Yellow supposedly helps strengthen the body's nervous system and has been used for combating nervous or nerve-related conditions. Yellow is thought to have decongestant and antibacterial properties as well. It has been reportedly useful in stimulating both the digestive and lymphatic systems and assisting metabolism and glandular activity.
Various sources claim that the color yellow is effective in the treatment of:
- disorders related to the kidneys, liver, pancreas, and intestines
- eye and throat infections
- muscle cramps
- syphilis and impotence
Several online articles praise yellow for its alleged ability to stimulate brain function. "It stimulates the intellect," states information from the Moon Dragon Birthing Services of Salem, MA. "Whenever you want to remember something, jot it down on yellow paper. Yellow was found to increase children's learning ability and increase IQ when included with orange and red in classrooms."
The dominant color of the fourth chakra, the so-called Heart Chakra, is green. Green is believed to help physical maladies and emotional troubles related to the heart. Chromotherapists use it to:
- alleviate anxiety and depression
- correct hormonal imbalances
- heal ulcers
- increase immunity
- treat bronchitis, diabetes, whooping cough, cysts, joint inflammation, and eye diseases
- build up muscles, bones and tissues, and more.
As stated on the DeepTranceNow.com website of the clinical hypnotherapist, Dr. Laura De Giorgio, "Green can be used for just about any condition in need of healing." The color of nature and the Earth, green is said to possess energizing, soothing, and purifying powers. It can supposedly stimulate inner peace and promote general detoxification of the body.
A secondary color associated with the Heart Chakra is pink. Like green, it too is said to have a calming effect on the human body. The Moon Dragon Birthing Services website states, "Because it has been found to have a tranquilizing effect on aggressive and violent people, pink is often used in prisons, mental institutions, hospitals, and juvenile and drug centers... Pink is also a good color for a bedroom, where it can help evoke feelings of romance."
Regarded to be even more calming than green and pink is the color blue, the dominant color of the fifth chakra, the Throat Chakra. Chromotherapists use the color blue to alleviate sore throats and combat throat cancer. It is also utilized to treat insomnia and hyperactivity, heal burns, relieve headaches and migraines, soothe muscle cramps, ease stomach pains, and even help with liver disorders.
Like green, blue is also believed to aid body detoxification. Blue has been credited with the ability to lower body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. According to author Grata Young, "In a study at the New England State Hospital in the U.S., 25 staff members with normal blood pressure were bathed in blue light for half an hour. It resulted in universal falls in blood pressure. Blood pressure rose when the red light was applied."
In the late 1800s, around the same time that Niels Finsen was using red light to help smallpox patients, men like Augustus Pleasanton, Seth Pancoast, and Dr. Edwin Babbit were also testing the therapeutic potential of various colors, including blue. In his 1876 publication "Blue and Sun-lights", Pleasanton reportedly cured certain diseases, increased fertility, and sped up the rate of physical maturation by exposing patients to blue light. Pancoast used red and blue light to balance the autonomic nervous system, and Babbit, the author of The Principles of Light and Color and developer of such devices as the Chromo Disk, a funnel-shaped contraption fitted with special color filters that could localize light onto various parts of the body, began prescribing blue light for inflammatory conditions, sciatica, meningitis, sunstroke, and other ailments.
According to the Ellicottville, NY-based Institute for Chromotherapy, "CNN recently announced that researchers at Cornell University discovered that applying blue light to the backs of the knees resets the body's internal clock, eliminating jet lag and the sleep disturbances that accompany shift work."
And the Wand of Light website, operated by self-proclaimed transformational healer Dawn Jones, states, "Dr. P.D. McClure, chief blood specialist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, is using a blue light on babies born with bilirubin in their blood. The blue light disintegrates this substance, which, if not treated, will be fatal to the baby or cause brain damage and cerebral palsy. The only treatment before this discovery has been a major surgical procedure to give the infant a complete change of blood."
The sixth of the seven major chakras of Ayurvedic medicine is called the Third Eye Chakra or Brow Chakra and is located between the eyebrows. Its dominant color, indigo, has reportedly been used by chromotherapists to control bleeding as well as to treat abscesses, addictions, constipation, headaches, insomnia, mental disorders, pneumonia, and soothe eye, ear, nose, and skin problems. The Indian online magazine "Akhandjyoti" reports that indigo relaxes and slows down the neuromuscular, cardiovascular, and lymphatic systems. Other sources claim that indigo can benefit the pituitary gland and, like the color blue, decrease blood pressure, heart rate, stress, and nervousness.
In 1897, Dr. Dinshah Ghadiali, an Indian-born physician who was inspired by the work of Edwin Babbit, reportedly used indigo light on a female patient who was dying from intractable dysentery. On the third day of treatment, the woman was out of bed. Although Dinshah became embroiled in controversy during his career, he is remembered in certain circles as the first person to develop a healing system that utilized all the colors of the visible spectrum.
Located at the top of the head, the seventh chakra is the Crown Chakra. The dominant color is violet. Chromotherapists believe that violet can, among other things, relax an overactive heart, stimulate the spleen and white blood cells, aid body detoxification, decrease sensitivity to pain, calm the nervous system, and soothe mental and emotional stress.
The Moon Dragon Birthing Services website states that violet heals brain tumors, helps combat insomnia, suppresses appetite, diminishes compulsive behavior, alleviates migraine headaches, and relieves scalp and kidney problems. According to the Wand of Light website, "Violet is used for cerebrospinal meningitis and epilepsy when there is an acute mental disturbance. In cases of psychosomatic illnesses, violet is recommended, as it aids in clearing the mental disorders that cause the problems."
Not everyone believes in the existence of the seven major chakras and many people may be hesitant to embrace the notion that colored light can impede the growth of brain tumors or increase a child's IQ. However, the importance of light and colors to human health shouldn't be all that difficult to accept or responsibly contemplate. After all, most people would be quick to acknowledge the tremendous health benefits of moderate exposure to sunlight. Those same people might then allow themselves to accept or agree with the words of the aforementioned Dr. Edwin Babbit, who said "Sunlight is the principal curative agent in nature's laboratory, and where light cannot enter, the disease does."
And what about the proven therapeutic properties of far infrared light, those wavelengths of light are located in the electromagnetic spectrum just below visible red light? Just as experts in science and medicine have repeatedly proclaimed that ultraviolet light is harmful to humans, so have they extolled the virtues of far infrared light. Far infrared light has been shown to help strengthen the cardiovascular system, increase blood circulation, stimulate brain endorphins, increase immunity, extract toxic chemicals and heavy metals, relieve aches and pains, and relax the body and mind.
The remarkably positive reports about the benefits of far infrared light have prompted countless health-conscious individuals to introduce themselves to the wonders of far infrared sauna bathing and far infrared sauna therapy. Now, as more and more people investigate chromotherapy to correct certain physical or psychological imbalances, many are discovering just how effectively color therapy and far infrared sauna therapy can complement each other.
Several sauna manufacturers and dealers now carry far infrared saunas that come equipped with chromotherapy lights. Some models offer the choice of single solid-color lights or multi-colored lights that are programmed to shine certain colors in a certain sequence. For example, a bather could choose to bask in just blue light during his or her sauna session or enjoy an alternation of yellow, orange, and red. Alternations of all seven colors of the visible spectrum are also available. For anyone concerned about maintaining or improving their physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health, it may just be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.