To better understand light therapy, it would really help to know what light is in the first place. It all starts with the sun.
The sun emits an unthinkable amount of energy. For example, if you could place a piece of the sun the size of a pinhead on earth, you would not be able to safely stand within 90 miles of it. This energy is called electromagnetic radiation or the electromagnetic spectrum. It travels to earth in waves, kind of like sound.
Most of the sun’s energy (radiation) is harmful to us and so is blocked by our atmosphere. But some of this tremendous energy reaches earth, and we call the visible portion of this energy “light.”
Color is Light Energy
The wavelengths of visible light are tiny, ranging from 400 to 700 billionths of a meter, or nm. Natural daylight contains within it each color of the rainbow. Therefore, a color can be defined by a range of tiny wavelengths:
Color – Wavelength
Violet Light – 380-450 nm
Blue Light – 450-495 nm
Green Light – 495-570 nm
Yellow Light – 570-590 nm
Orange Light – 590-620 nm
Red Light – 620-750 nm
(non visible) Infrared energy – 750 nm – 100 µm
The wavelength of light, expressed in nanometers (nm), simply defines the color as we see it.
So then, whether coming from the Sun or any type of light bulb, light is actually a powerful electromagnetic energy traveling at 186,000 miles per second. It is no wonder, then, that light has a powerful effect on living things. What, then, is light therapy?
What is Light Therapy?
You know how much better you feel on a bright sunny day? You are experiencing light therapy as nature intended it.
Natural daylight contains the full rainbow of colors or, the “full spectrum” of color. Light therapy is the use of natural daylight, artificial daylight (full spectrum light), or any single color to promote an overall sense of well being, correct the imbalances caused by a lack of natural light, or stimulate a specific healing response in the body.
Light therapy is not new, but has been used in the medical practice of just about all cultures since the beginning or recorded history. In fact, light therapy of all kinds was used in the medical practice of modern societies until the advent of antibiotics, when most natural remedies were put aside in favor of medical “advancements.” Today, light is once again being recognized as the most advanced form of treatment for an ever growing list of medical conditions.
Not coincidentally, many of the conditions that light therapy treats have been caused by a lack of natural light in the first place. This deficiency is being called, “malillumination.” As a result, full spectrum light therapy is gaining popularity type of light therapy today. Read on to discover what full spectrum light therapy is and why you probably need it.
Light Therapy Treatment Techniques
There two general ways that light therapy treatments are administered:
- Light taken in through your eyes.
- Light shone on your skin.
Light Through Your Eyes
Light travels through your eyes directly into the hypothalamus of the brain, thereafter having an effect on every system of your body. Forms of light therapy that employ this fact include bright light therapy, dawn simulators, color tinted glasses and syntonics.
Bright Light Therapy
Bright light therapy treatments use a “light box” that uses a white or blue light to provide intense exposure under controlled conditions. White light systems are the most common, though both have their own benefits. Benefits are quite widespread, ranging from the prevention of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and minimizing its symptoms, to improving circadian rhythms in order to promote better sleep. Treatment is as simple a sitting near a light box, which is turned on, while keeping your eyes open. While it isn’t recommended that you stare directly at the light, you can simply orient yourself toward it while you conduct your daily activities such as reading, using the computer, and eating your meals.
Dawn simulators are light therapy that are usually used to help in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). However, they are also used by some individuals who wish to wake up naturally and build an “alarm clock” into their bodies. A standard dawn simulator treatment involves timing the devices to start to add light to a bedroom so that it will gradually increase over a period of thirty minutes to two hours before it is time to rise. Dawn simulators usually use an illuminance range of 100 to 300 lux. Some people with SAD find that this helps them to feel as though they have experienced more daylight throughout the winter months.
Color Tinted Glasses
Color can promote many different types of reactions in the body, from better overall health and wellness to an improved mood. Color tinted glasses allow you to control the type of impact that these benefits will have on your mental and physical wellbeing. The eyewear must be worn for 10 to 30 minutes each day either outdoors or indoors. Each of the nine colors has a different impact on your health and mood:
- Magenta – soothing, relaxing, gentle, and emotional balance.
- Red – courage, sense of power, pioneering spirit, overcoming negative influences, strength, and vitality.
- Orange – resourcefulness, cheerfulness, social confidence, and enjoyable relationships.
- Yellow – mental clarity, optimism, and focus.
- Green – self control, calm, hope, peace, balance, and the reduction of stress.
- Aqua – sensitivity, feeling soothed, confident, and relaxed.
- Blue – calm, mental relaxation, peace, clear communication, creativity, and vitality.
- Indigo – serenity, understanding, clear perception, imagination, and deep sleep.
- Violet – inspiration, beauty, creativity, lowered irritation, and soothed nerves.
Syntonics, also known as optometric phototherapy, is a gentle and safe ocular therapy where visible light wavelengths are selected to be shone through the eyes. It has had clinical applications for more than seventy years as an alternative treatment to lazy eye, eye turns, depth perception and limited peripheral vision. According to the National Institutes of Health, half of the body’s blood volume passes through the eyes every 40 minutes. The NIH also states that the hemoglobin within the blood has a biochemical light mechanism. Therefore, by selecting the right light wavelengths, syntonics allows you to send the benefits of those colors throughout the entire body, by way of your eyes and your blood circulation.
Light on Your Skin
The skin is the largest organ of your body and has been designed to absorb light in many different ways. Sunlight on your skin is the only natural way of Vitamin D production. The result of the sunscare has been epidemic Vitamin D deficiency. Colored light shone on the skin is the basis for a wide variety of light and color therapy techniques including:
Photofacial & Photorejuvination
Photofacial, or photorejuvination is a form of skin treatment that uses light to treat various forms of cosmetic skin conditions such as wrinkles and age spots, and can help to reverse the effects of hair loss. This is especially helpful for correcting photo-aging and sun damage, such as melasma, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and solar lentigos. Following a series of light therapy treatments, a significant reduction in unwanted aging signs on the skin, for a clearer, smoother, revitalized appearance. When using light from LED (light emitting diode) devices, this is a gradual improvement process that is quite gentle and that is completely painless.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy uses frequencies of light in order to help to reduce the appearance of various forms of skin discoloration issues (such as sun spots), freckles, birthmarks, fine lines, spider veins, varicose veins, broken capillaries, and even hair removal. This type of therapy is performed by a trained dermatologist and requires a commitment from the patient of 4 to 6 treatments. Each session targets a deeper layer of skin, with improvements becoming visible within weeks. The final treatments help in collagen growth stimulation. It can take up to six months for the benefits of that treatment to be visible.
Conventional Medical Use
Blue light therapy and red light therapy have a number of highly beneficial uses in conventional medicine. Among the examples are jaundice, which is treated in many hospitals in the United States, Canada, and around the world using blue light. Acne bacteria can be painlessly eliminated with blue and red light therapy, which can also be used to maintain the complexion once the pimples have cleared up. MRSA bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics can be effectively killed using blue light therapy without negative side effects. Similarly, these lights can be used to help to reduce pain levels, and to improve and speed the healing of wounds. This can be accomplished both safely and effectively.
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a type of treatment that uses a drug that is sensitive to light and that can be activated within the body through the use of lasers in order to kill cells. This is most often used for the eradication of cancer cells. The process involves the use of a special drug that is typically administered by injection. This medication is absorbed into the cancerous cells. One to three days later, a doctor targets the area with a laser, causing the cells to react with oxygen and die. In the case of surface tumors, as is the case in skin cancer, the drug may be applied topically and a light emitting diode (LED) may be used by the doctor instead of a laser.
Meridian Points (Colorpuncture)
Colorpuncture is a form of alternative healing technique that finds its origins with a German naturopath and scientist named Peter Mandel. Its development was the result of more than a quarter of a century of intensive empirical research. The process involves shining specific colors of light onto meridian or acupuncture points on the skin. This can help to use the benefits of the color’s energies to stimulate healing impulses in the points of the body which can be assisted from those energies. It is often compared to acupuncture, except that it uses light instead of needles to produce healing effects.
Dinshaw and Spectro-Chrome Therapy
Darius P. Ghadiali – who preferred to be known as Dinshaw – lived from 1973 to 1966 and is the inventor of spectro-chrome. Dinshaw first used an indigo colored filter on a kerosene lamp to treat a girl who was dying of colitis. The therapy was broadened by “solarizing” milk by placing it in an indigo colored bottle and exposing it to sunlight. The girl was healed in three days and Dinshaw continued to develop this therapy. In 1911, he moved to the United States from India and brought his theories and techniques with him. The spectro-chrome therapy concept states that every element is connected to one of the seven colors of the prism. Ninety seven percent of the body is made up of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon, which are associated with blue, red, green, and yellow. A healthy person’s colors are all in balance, but disease can cause them to fall out of balance. Spectro-chrome therapy replaces the colors that are lacking and reduces those that are over-abundant, to restore balance and health.
The chakras are spirals of energy that circulate within our bodies and that move in unison with one another. In fact, the word “chakra” is the Sanskrit word for “wheel”. The body also naturally creates electro-magnetic energy, which generates a field around it. When various chakras slow or start to shut down, the body isn’t capable of creating as much electro-magnetic energy, and circulation among the rest of the chakras declines. This can cause symptoms to appear in the affected area of the body. As chakras open back up again, the body creates more energy. The chakras are as follows:
- Violet – the crown chakra
- Indigo – the brow chakra
- Blue – the throat chakra
- Green – the heart chakra
- Yellow – the solar plexus chakra
- Orange – the sacral chakra
- Red – the base (root) chakra
Food, Water & Light Therapy
Solarized Water Bottles
Solarizing water with specially colored glass bottles is one of the best ways to benefit your body and health with the energies of different colors of light. When water in a colored container is exposed to sunlight, it absorbs that color’s energy vibrations. Then, it can be used for bathing or sipping to apply the benefits of that color energy to the body as a whole or to a specific part. Solarized water requires a clean glass bottle in the desired color, spring water or pure still mineral water, and a window sill that will receive lots of direct sunlight.
Just as solarized water can be used to help to promote health and wellness in the body, it can also enhance the properties of the food we eat. Ideally, this will mean that you will grow your own vegetables and feed them with solarized water. Then, the fruits and vegetables that you have grown can be consumed to take in the light and color energy benefits. For best results when
using this technique, it is advised that you eat solarized food while it is still raw, as adding heat can change its energy properties and could therefore take away from the color benefits.