Color Therapy

Dr. Kate Baldwin

“For about six years I have given close attention to the action of colors in restoring the body functions, and I am perfectly honest in saying that, after nearly thirty-seven years of active hospital and private practice in medicine and surgery, I can produce quicker and more accurate results with colors than with any or all other methods combined—and with less strain on the patient.”1
- Kate Baldwin, MD

The use of color to heal has ancient roots. Native cultures discovered that the color of plants often determined their healing qualities. For example, blood conditions were treated with red flowers and herbs. Long before modern technology, healers discovered that light coming through colored fabric or colored glass had the ability to speed healing.

Light in the form of specific colors gives our food—vegetables, fruits, herbs—their nutritional or nourishing qualities. Color is the active ingredient in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in our foods. Research with plants also indicates how colored light affects plant health. By laying specific colors of plastic sheeting on the soil around the plants, pests can be discouraged and plant growth and flavor can be enhanced.2

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Color for Healing

Dr. Niels Ryberg Finsen

Specific colors were used to restore health among ancient cultures in Egypt, Greece, China and India. During those civilizations, the windows of healing rooms were covered with cloth dyed red, blue, etc. to capture the healing qualities of color. Later, in the fourteenth century, a priest and physician in England, John of Gaddesden, wrote a treatise on the use of red color to treat smallpox. The patient was wrapped in red cloth and red window drapes were used to diffuse the light.3,4

Skip ahead to nineteenth century Denmark and the work of Dr. Niels Ryberg Finsen. In 1892, he reported the successful use of red light to prevent scar formation from smallpox. He was honored with a Nobel Prize in 1903 for his pioneering work with light therapy. This time he had successfully healed tubercular skin lesions with ultraviolet light.5

Edwin D. Babbitt

Across the Atlantic in the United States, Edwin D. Babbitt, a contemporary of Finsen, published Principles of Light and Color in 1878. His work established a firm basis for the use of color therapy. Babbitt’s work caught the attention of a young doctor, Dinshah Ghadiali, while he was visiting the US from India in 1896.

On his return to India, Dr. Ghadiali was summoned in the dark of night to the bedside of a woman from a prominent family. Despite an array of medications and the care of a learned doctor, the woman was dying from mucous colitis. She was in great pain and having 50 bowel movements a day. Young Dinshah knew he had to do something different if he was to save her life. After a fervent prayer, Edwin Babbitt’s work with color popped into mind.

Dinshah Ghadiali

With no other options, Dinshah took a risk. His remedy was water, a kerosene lamp and pickle bottles made of violet-blue glass. With this colored light shining on her abdomen, relief from her pain came quickly. In addition, she drank milk from a colored bottle that had been placed in the sun. Dinshah’s risk saved the woman’s life. He reported: “The urgent straining to evacuate, which occurred perhaps a hundred times a day, abated to ten after one treatment; after three days she was able to get out of bed.”6

Another medical doctor, Kate Baldwin, used color therapy extensively in the 1920s. Dr. Baldwin was the Senior Surgeon of Woman’s Hospital in Philadelphia in the US. In a bold presentation to her peers, she stated:

Color is the simplest and most accurate therapeutic measure yet developed. … For about six years I have given close attention to the action of colors in restoring the body functions, and I am perfectly honest in saying that, after nearly thirty-seven years of active hospital and private practice in medicine and surgery, I can produce quicker and more accurate results with colors than with any or all other methods combined—and with less strain on the patient. … Even in cases where death is inevitable, much comfort may be secured.1

Hazel Parcells

Color therapy has been kept alive through natural health practitioners. Dr. Baldwin’s words were echoed by Hazel Parcells, a leading naturopathic physician in the US during the latter half of the twentieth century. Dr. Parcells also used color therapy extensively. She remained active and in good health until she passed away peacefully in her sleep in 1996 … at 106 years of age. Her biographer reports: “Dr. Parcells often said that if all the tools for natural self-healing were taken away from her, save one, she would want that one to be color.”7

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Colors in Our Energy Field

Kirlian photography, developed in Russia, was a pioneering technique that graphically captured the colors emitted by our bodies—an energy field known as the aura. Computerized technologies developed in more recent years show, in considerable detail, the vibrations or the energy field within and around each of us. While these computerized technologies make the invisible, visible, they also serve as diagnostic instruments. These technologies show whether there are imbalances in our energy field. These imbalances serve as an early-warning system to indicate a disease process years before actual physical symptoms of disease become evident.

The application of specific colors as a therapy has been proven over centuries to have a powerful healing effect. Natural light is composed of all the colors. As imbalances occur in our bodies—often from stress and other lifestyle choices—our cells develop the need for exposure to specific colors to help regain balanced function.

A Light System Within Our Bodies

Our bodies have two invisible energy transport systems. One is the meridian system, a system meticulously charted in ancient China, which delivers the energies of light to organs and glands throughout our bodies. The other is the chakra system, charted in ancient India, which stores the energy of light in the region of the major nerve ganglions along the spine. The chakras are spirals of energy that function like pumps or valves to regulate the flow of light or color through our nervous system and throughout the body. The body seems to act like a prism as each of the seven chakras has a concentration of a particular color.

Evidence to support the existence of chakra centers was discovered by medical researcher, Candace Pert, Ph.D based in the US. She found that areas in the body that are particularly rich in neuropeptides correspond to the location of the seven chakra centers. Neuropeptides are natural healing chemicals.8

Evidence to support the existence of the meridian system and the way it conducts light was discovered by Dr. Pankratov, a Russian researcher. His team applied light to a specific area of the body and then noticed how a spot of light spontaneously appeared at another location—an area connected by a meridian.9

Light is absorbed through our eyes and our skin. Two specific ways our bodies disperse light throughout the body are the meridian system, discovered in ancient China, and the chakra system, discovered in ancient India. The purpose of color therapy is to help bring balance to the body—mentally, emotionally and physically.

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Healing Qualities of Colors

Color therapy for health is gaining ground today as a result of the advent of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Medical research sponsored by NASA, using both Red and Near Infrared (NIR) LEDs, expanded the awareness of, and use of, color therapy.10

Near Infrared (NIR)

The healing effects of near Infrared light only became known with the advent of light emitting diode (LED) technology. Since it is invisible to the human eye, before LEDs there was no way to gauge the effect near infrared light had on the body.

NIR LEDs are often used in conjunction with Red LEDs.

Physical Effects
  • Wound healing
  • Burns: Speeds healing of severe burns
  • Circulation: Improved
  • Muscle and tendon sprains: Speeds healing
  • Pain: Eases pain for many conditions
  • Skin rejuvenation: Helps with skin repair and the effects of aging. Boosts collagen formation to help smooth wrinkles
  • Allergy symptoms: Accelerated relief from severe food allergy symptom
  • Boosts enzyme activity to stimulate metabolism
  • Within Cells: Stimulates mitochondrial function to boost ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate), our energy source for all body processes. Increases DNA synthesis for cellular reproduction and the repair of damaged cells
  • Eye injuries: Accelerated healing in blinded rats when used in conjunction with Red LEDs. Avoid shining light directly into eyes. Use extreme caution if applying any color to the eyes
Mental/Emotional

The emotional impact of near infrared light has not yet been studied as part of LED light therapy research. It could be that NIR has the same emotional and mental effects as red.

Specific Conditions
  • Allergies
  • Arthritic pain and mobility
  • Burns
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Eye injuries
  • Skin repair
  • Sprains
  • Wounds
When to Avoid

Information is not available on when to avoid NIR as scientists using LED light therapy have not focused on, or discovered any, as yet.

Common sense tells us that it would be wise to avoid NIR in the same situations advised for Red.

Print Color Tables

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Red

Red is a hot color and has a stimulating effect—both mentally and physically. It is associated with power, energy, vitality, and the general excitement of life. Red has a cheering effect and helps combat lethargy and laziness.

It is effectively used where there is lack of vitality or where there is congestion. Red relates to the Root chakra and sex organs. Red is effective in the treatment of the lungs, bones, heart, and muscles.

Red LEDs are often used in conjunction with Near infrared LEDs.

Physical Effects
  • Wound healing
  • Burns: Speeds healing of severe burns
  • Skin rejuvenation: Helps with skin repair and the effects of aging. Boosts collagen formation to help smooth wrinkles
  • Prevents and reduces scar tissue
  • Increases the flow of blood and is useful for poor circulation
  • Regenerates the blood. May help with anemia by building hemoglobin
  • Energizes and relieves congestion of the liver.
  • Stimulates acupuncture points.
  • Strengthens the flow of energy to the kidneys
  • Activates hormones—particularly pituitary hormones. Red stimulates the pituitary starting a cascade effect to stimulate other glands and organs.
  • Stimulates the production of adrenal hormones.
  • Brain: Increases the production of mood elevating and pain reducing neurotransmitters (endorphins and enkephelins).
  • Relieves pain in bones and muscle contractures.
  • Stimulates sensory nerves so the senses of smell, sight, hearing, taste and touch are heightened.
  • Within Cells: Stimulates ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate), our energy source for all body processes. Increases RNA/DNA synthesis for cellular reproduction and the repair of damaged cells.
Mental/Emotional

Excess of Red: Stubbornness, quick temper, resentment, aggression.

Deficiency of Red: Fear, depression, inertia, lack of vitality.

In balance: Feelings of love and joy.

Specific Conditions
  • Anemia
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Chronic coughs
  • Constipation
  • Eczema
  • Endocrine (glandular) dysfunction
  • Fatigue
  • Listlessness
  • Frostbite
  • Head congestion
  • Paralysis
  • Pneumonia
  • Wounds and inflammations that are not oozing
When to Avoid
  • With any condition that shouldn’t be stimulated
  • Experiencing anger or overly excited
  • Fever
  • Hypertension
  • Mental illness or more severe mental imbalances
  • Nerve inflammation (neuritis)
  • Wounds that are discharging pus

Print Color Tables

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Orange

Orange is the color of joy or happiness and encourages the warmth of the heart. It enhances both mental and physical energy. Orange is a mixture of red and yellow. It also stimulates creativity. This color governs the Spleen chakra, which is also known as the Sacral chakra.

Orange is used to help balance problems with the kidneys, large and small intestines, the lower spine (back) and sacroiliac joints. There are two sacroiliac shock-absorbing joints between the spine and the pelvis. They absorb the weight of the upper body and transfer it to the lower body.

Physical Effects
  • Relieves muscle spasms and cramps—including menstrual cramps
  • Strengthens the lungs
  • Strengthens the kidneys
  • Improves assimilation of food through effects on the spleen and pancreas
  • Relieves gas and soothes irritable bowels and the digestive tract
  • Relieves hiccups
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Increases pulse rate but does not affect blood pressure
  • Stimulates appetite
  • Stimulates the thyroid gland
  • Nourishment from B-vitamins and several minerals—including calcium, copper and selenium—is a result of their orange color
Mental/Emotional

Excess of Orange: Confusion, lethargy, pessimism.

Deficiency of Orange: Stress, self-conflict, depression, loneliness, lethargy, fatigue.

In Balance: Feelings of courage, enthusiasm, creativity, and the ability to be energetic.

Specific Conditions
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Colds
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Gallstones
  • Gout
  • Hypothyroidism (under active thyroid)
  • Kidney ailments
  • Lactation (stimulation)
  • Menstrual difficulties
  • Respiratory diseases
When to Avoid
  • Easily excited
  • Experiencing any type of anxiety disorder

Print Color Tables

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Yellow

Yellow is a hot color symbolizing the sun. The sun, of course, encompasses all colors, but it is commonly associated with Yellow. Yellow has a bright and cheering effect. Yellow is associated with the Solar Plexus chakra so is beneficial in balancing the digestive system—the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen and stomach.

As the “seat of the emotions” this chakra is also associated with the adrenal glands, nervous system, muscles and our personal power. Yellow also activates the lymphatic and immune systems.

Physical Effects
  • Rejuvenate skin: Builds collagen to increase elasticity. Used to reduce facial and neck wrinkles
  • Tones and builds the motor nerves to energize muscles
  • Helps mental concentration
  • Stimulates and helps cleanse with an eliminative action on the liver, intestines and the skin
  • Activates the lymphatic system
  • Promotes digestion
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Fortifies the hormonal system
  • Helps expel parasites
  • Nourishment from vitamins A and C as well as several minerals—including magnesium, sodium, sulphur and molybdenum—is a result of their yellow color
Mental/Emotional

Excess of Yellow: Lack of concentration, desire to be malicious or devious.

Deficiency of Yellow: Melancholy, mild depression, lack of motivation, poor self-esteem, fears, phobias.

In balance: Feelings of joy and happiness.
Yellow can be applied to stimulate left-brain activity. It is associated with an alert intellect.

Specific Conditions
  • Arthritis
  • Constipation
  • Diabetes
  • Digestive problems of all kinds except diarrhea
  • Dyslexia
  • Eczema
  • Fatigue and adrenal gland problems
  • Flatulence
  • Gallbladder conditions
  • Kidney problems
  • Liver conditions
  • Lymphatic congestion
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Pancreas imbalances
  • Paralysis—applied over the back of the head (occiput) and the base of the spine
  • Sciatic nerve pain
  • Thymus as stimulant for the immune system.
When to Avoid
  • Acute inflammation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Heart palpitations
  • Neuralgia
  • Overexcited

Print Color Tables

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Green

Green is the most common color in nature. It is called the master or balancing color. Green is the combination of blue and yellow. It has a sedative and cooling effect.

Green governs the Heart chakra, the center of unselfish and unconditional love. It promotes feelings of contentment, relaxation and trust. Green is the color of growth, fertility, hope, youth, energy and new life. It influences the heart, breasts, lungs, upper back, and the endocrine and circulatory systems.

Physical Effects
  • A detoxifier—especially beneficial for all chronic conditions
  • A disinfectant or antiseptic—a germicidal and anti-bacterial effect
  • Stimulates the Pituitary, the master gland
  • Acts upon the sympathetic nervous system to relieve stress in the blood vessels
  • Helps dissolve blood clots
  • Builds muscles, bones and other tissues
  • A tonic to the body
  • An aphrodisiac and sexual tonic
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • In plants, green chlorophyll is key to the process of converting light from the sun into chemical energy for our benefit
Mental/Emotional

Excess of Green: Envy, jealousy, insecurity, lack of motivation.

Deficiency of Green: Introversion, irritability, exhaustion, compulsive behavior, fears, phobias, panic disorders.

In balance: Feelings of contentment and tranquility.

Specific Conditions
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Colds
  • Colic
  • Eczema
  • Hay fever
  • Heart conditions
  • Hemorrhoids
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Laryngitis
  • Liver ailments
  • Whooping cough
  • Tumors or growths (both benign and malignant)
  • Ulcers
When to Avoid

No conditions that we are aware of.

Print Color Tables

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Blue

Blue is a cold color and as a result can be used in all conditions involving heat in the body. It has a relaxing effect on the mind and body. Blue is specific to the Throat chakra so is useful to help with imbalances in the thyroid and parathyroid glands, tension in the neck and shoulder areas, and problems with teeth, and gums.

Physical Effects
  • Antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Blue light has been used as an option for those who cannot tolerate prescription antibiotics.
  • Burns: Speeds healing of burns and has a cooling and soothing effect
  • Anti-inflammatory qualities
  • Increases metabolism and builds vitality
  • Promotes growth
  • A tonic effect on blood
  • Calms nerves
  • Astringent effect. As an astringent, blue shrinks tissues and dries up secretions
  • Resets the biological clock when applied behind the knees. This application may be helpful whenever the body needs to adjust to different time zones or for shift work
  • Contracts arteries, veins and capillaries so can increase blood pressure
  • Blue is the color of the sky so it has great influence to adjust our circadian rhythms for work and rest patterns
  • In nature, oxygen—a vital element in our air and water—is blue

Energy: Dr Oz suggested on his popular television show and on his website: “To help boost your morning energy level, try Blue Light Therapy. Frequently offered in spas, blue light therapy can recharge your battery even if you have not gotten a good night’s sleep. The blue light wavelength actually helps to set circadian rhythms and boost energy.”

Mental/Emotional

Excess of Blue: Doubt, apathy, and melancholy.

Deficiency of Blue: Sense of rigidity or feelings of being victimized.

In balance: Naturally affectionate, relaxed, calm, intuitive, and able to express feelings and thoughts honestly and harmoniously.

Blue is used to help strengthen will power and to increase the ability to make decisions.

Specific Conditions
  • Acne and blemishes including skin eruptions from chicken pox and measles
  • Baldness
  • Burns
  • Colic
  • Diarrhea and dysentery
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hemorrhage
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Herpes
  • Hormonal imbalances: impotence and menopause
  • Hyperactivity in children
  • Hysteria
  • Insomnia
  • Itching
  • Jaundice
  • Laryngitis
  • Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • Senses: smell and taste issues
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen glands
  • Thyroid disorders: goiter and hyperthyroidism (over-active thyroid)
  • TMJ
  • Ulcers
  • Warts
  • Yeast/fungus
  • Weight loss—blue is an appetite suppressant.
When to Avoid
  • Over exposure to the eyes
  • Do not use if predisposed to macular degeneration
  • Experiencing cold symptoms
  • High Blood Pressure

Print Color Tables

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Indigo

Indigo is a cold color and as a result can be used in all conditions involving heat in the body. It has a relaxing effect on the mind and body. Indigo is specific to the Brow chakra so is useful to help with imbalances in the pineal and the pituitary glands, sinuses, the eyes, ears and nose as well as with learning disabilities.

Physical Effects
  • Blood purifier
  • Anti-bacterial effect
  • Helps with various skin conditions
  • Assists with healing of boils and skin ulcers
  • Calms the nervous system
  • Reduces swelling from wounds
  • Anti-inflammatory qualities
  • Astringent effect. As an astringent, Indigo shrinks tissues and dries up secretions

Indigo enhances intuition, strengthens imagination and courage.

Mental/Emotional

Excess of Indigo: Inconsiderate, arrogant, intolerant.

Deficiency of Indigo: Succumb to fears and addictions, avoids conflict.

In balance: Intuitive, calm, understanding, sense of responsibility, sense of justice, willing to be of service.

Indigo enhances intuition, strengthens imagination and courage. Indigo may enhance practicality and dream activity.

Specific Conditions
  • Ear, eye and nose conditions
  • Hearing
  • Hemorrhages
  • Insomnia
  • Learning disorders
  • Sinus problems
  • Skin conditions
  • Varicose veins
When to Avoid
  • Over exposure to the eyes
  • Do not use if predisposed to macular degeneration
  • Experiencing cold symptoms
  • High Blood Pressure

Print Color Tables

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Violet

Violet is a cooler color so has a soothing and calming effect. Violet is specific to the Crown chakra so is useful to help with imbalances in the pineal and the pituitary glands, helps soothe the nervous system and mental functions.

Physical Effects
  • Supports and calms central nervous system
  • Possibly improve memory
  • Helps correct muscular and skeletal imbalances
  • Helps with environmental sensitivities
  • Helps overcome sleep disorders
  • Depresses appetite
  • Anti-bacterial effect
  • Anti-inflammatory qualities
  • Astringent effect. As an astringent, Violet shrinks tissues and dries up secretions

Violet enhances a sense of self as a
spiritual being with feelings of
compassion and creativity.

Mental/Emotional

Excess of Violet: Too much of a dreamer, impractical, bored, arrogant, moody, secretive, vain.

Deficiency of Violet: Sense of isolation or aloneness, loss of meaning, disinterest in spiritual exploration, lack focus, worry, depression, close-minded.

In balance: Sense of self as a spiritual being, sense of unity, able to see the bigger picture, feelings of compassion and empathy, creative, a visionary.

Violet promotes feeling of oneness with the universe and connection with our Higher Self.

Specific Conditions
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Fainting
  • Insomnia
  • Mental disorders
  • Learning disorders
  • Muscular system, balance and co-ordination
  • Scalp conditions
  • Sensitivity to light, sound and the environment
When to Avoid
  • Over exposure to the eyes
  • Do not use if predisposed to macular degeneration
  • Experiencing cold symptoms
  • High Blood Pressure

Print Color Tables

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Color Combinations

Acne – Red and Blue
Alternating Red and Blue light has been used to clear severe cases of acne. Blue light attacks the acne bacteria and the Red light stimulates collagen and elastin in the skin.

Glands and Hormones – Orange and Blue
Alternating Orange and Blue light has been used to balance the endocrine system.

All Conditions – Green
Green is often used prior to the application of other colors. For more effective results, use green before applying another color.

Additional Resources

Fascinating material about how color enters and influences the body is found in the translation of two chapters of a book in German by Dr. D. Klinghardt, MD, PhD: Some Facts and Research on using Color and Light for Healing, 1995. www.klinghardtacademy.com/Articles/Color-Therapy.html

A physician comments on Near Infrared Light. “LED and Infrared Light Therapy by Len Saputo MD.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCd0UL-cbq8

References

A complete list of references is available in our Reference section. References >

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Disclaimer

Natural Health Productions (NHP) presents MyLightTherapy.com as a public service.

We're not trying to arm-twist or sell you anything. On the contrary, we've done our best to provide accurate and up-to-date information regarding LED Light Therapy so you can come to your own conclusions.

We obviously think LED Light Therapy is pretty cool, but it's really up to you to decide, and we respect your ability to do so. Although light therapy dates back literally thousands of years, it's not exactly mainstream. (Yet... Give it time.)

And be smart... this is about your health. Do your homework. Research. Read. Ask questions. Seek out health practitioners you trust for their advice. The information we've brought together at MyLightTherapy.com isn't provided to diagnose, treat or cure any condition, and of course results can't be guaranteed. We're all unique individuals, after all, and one size really doesn't fit all.

One more thing — We take our role in providing the information found on MyLightTherapy.com very seriously. As with any topic, there are lots of differing opinions out there, and that’s okay. So that you know, our opinions are based on our understanding of the many sources of information available to us — from science to historical context to manufacturers to anecdotal and more.