Color Light Therapy For Migraines
Light sensitivity, or photophobia, is a major issue for those suffering from migraines. Many turn to dark rooms to numb their brains from the pain; however, recent research suggests that exposure to certain colors of light could potentially reduce both frequency and intensity of headaches.
Migraine is a common disorder, affecting around 12 percent of adults in the US. Symptoms include moderate-to-severe headaches and other debilitating symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dizziness and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
Although there is no one-size-fits all solution for migraines, many sufferers find relief through medications and other traditional therapies. Unfortunately, these can come with side effects and may not work for everyone who experiences them.
One alternative therapy that has recently gained attention is the use of green LED lights to treat migraines. Studies have demonstrated that this type of light can significantly reduce pain, nausea and sensitivity in migraine sufferers.
Researchers discovered that exposing patients to low-intensity green light for one to two hours daily for 10 weeks significantly reduced the number of self-reported headache days by about 60%.
Green light has anti-inflammatory effects and increases your body’s production of nitric oxide, a chemical which helps reduce pain and swelling in muscles. Furthermore, it elevates levels of serotonin in your brain – an essential neurotransmitter which helps control moods and promote better sleep patterns.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, migraines can significantly impact someone’s quality of life and lead to missed work or school opportunities. Medication may provide temporary relief from migraine-induced pain and discomfort but they come with serious potential side effects and are expensive to manage.
Scientists have been studying light sensitivity in migraines for years, and recent research has revealed that certain colors of light can help reduce migraine intensity and frequency. A team of researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard University, and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary discovered that green light (at 530nm on the spectrum) actually eased pain for blind migraine patients who had been exposed to high-intensity blue, white, amber or red light while experiencing a migraine attack.
Rami Burstein, PhD and researcher at the center and co-author of the study, tells Shape that blue and red lights tend to worsen migraine attacks more than amber or white ones do. However, green light doesn’t seem to cause an increase in pain intensity. He notes that green focuses on retina and cortex of the brain in migraine sufferers by sending smaller electrical signals than either red or blue does.
In another study, 29 people with migraines who were exposed to white or green light for one to two hours daily over a 10-week period saw their migraine frequency and quality of life improve. Furthermore, participants reported that the green light therapy was easy to follow along with no negative side effects.