Migraines and Green Light Therapy

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Migraines and Green Light Therapy

Migraines are one of the world’s most debilitating illnesses, affecting over 25 million people in the UK alone. For many sufferers, migraines cause constant pain and may include side effects like nausea or vomiting. Migraines may lead to missed school or work functions as well as strain relationships with family members. While drugs like painkillers, triptans and anti-emetics may provide temporary relief, cures remain elusive.

Scientists are discovering that light therapy could potentially provide an alternative drug-free treatment option for migraine sufferers. Studies suggest exposure to a narrow band of green light may be effective at relieving headache symptoms, and researchers are exploring how best to incorporate it into a treatment regimen.

Researchers from University of Arizona Health Sciences discovered that migraine patients who spent two hours each day in a room illuminated only with green light experienced less than half the number of headache days per month as those who remained in darkness. Furthermore, researchers noted significant reduction in pain intensity among those exposed to green light as opposed to those left in darkness.

It’s essential to note that this method of migraine relief requires a special light strip lamp, which emits an intense and predictable band of green light at specific intensities and frequencies. Furthermore, you need to spend significant amounts of time sitting near the green light while keeping more aggressive rays (like blue) turned off.

If you want to try green light therapy for yourself, consult your doctor first about its potential combination with other migraine treatments. The most popular form of green light therapy involves spending two hours daily in a room illuminated by an exclusive green light strip.

Red light therapy works similarly to green light therapy, only it uses a wider spectrum of red light. While it’s more difficult to incorporate into your routine, Burstein says red light therapy can reduce both the intensity and frequency of migraine attacks.

Rami Burstein, PhD and professor of anesthesia and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School, tells Shape that he first started exploring green light therapy after learning many people with migraines have an sensitivity to certain colors – a condition known as photophobia. In a 2016 study published in the scientific journal Brain, Burstein and his team exposed 69 participants to different color lights while they were experiencing an active, untreated migraine attack.

They then asked them to rate their pain on a scale from 0 to 10, depending on how intense it felt. When exposed to green light, approximately 20% of participants reported reduced intensity in their pain.

This theory also underpins acupuncture and acupressure, both of which have been found to alleviate migraine symptoms by relaxing nerves in the neck. Although it remains uncertain how or when light-therapy approaches could be more successful than traditional therapies, researchers hope to gain further insight in the near future.

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