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What is color medicine?

Color medicine, also known as chromotherapy, is an alternative healing technique that uses the visible spectrum of light and color to affect a person’s mood, energy, and health. It is based on the premise that different colors vibrate at different frequencies and can therefore be used to rebalance the body’s energy centers or chakras. While color medicine is still considered an alternative approach, there is some scientific evidence that suggests it may have therapeutic benefits for certain conditions.

The history of color medicine

The use of color as a healing modality dates back thousands of years to ancient Egypt, China, and India. In ancient Egyptian culture, temples dedicated to healing contained rooms with different colored light filtered through stained glass windows. The ancient Indian practice of Ayurvedic medicine also relied on color therapy. But color medicine as it is practiced today was pioneered in the late 1800s and early 1900s by scientists who investigated the physiological effects of color.

Major figures in the development of color medicine include:

  • Sir Isaac Newton – Discovered that white light split into the visible color spectrum.
  • Johan Wolfgang von Goethe – Wrote extensively on the psychology of color in the late 1700s.
  • Dinshah Ghadiali – Founded Spectro-Chrome therapy in the early 1900s, claiming colored light could restore health.
  • Niels Finsen – Won the 1903 Nobel Prize for discovering phototherapy, an early light therapy using ultraviolet rays to treat skin tuberculosis.

As physicists, psychologists, medical doctors, and healers continued to explore the effects of color over the next century, color medicine gradually gained recognition as a complementary therapy.

How does color medicine work?

Practitioners of color medicine explain its effects using two main principles:

  1. 1. The unique vibrational frequency of each color – Every color has its own wavelength and frequency on the electromagnetic spectrum. When transmitted to the body, these color wavelengths interact with the body’s chakras or energy centers. The chakras become balanced by being exposed to their corresponding healing color.
  2. 2. The psychological effects of color – Seeing certain colors triggers emotional and physiological reactions. For example, blue light has a calming effect, while red light energizes.

Therefore, illuminating a certain area of the body with a specific color helps bring that area into proper vibrational alignment and influences it psychologically. Practitioners can select colors tailored to a patient’s health needs and goals.

Color medicine techniques

Color medicine may be applied in various ways, using different tools and techniques:

Technique Description
Color light therapy Exposing all or part of the body to colored light beams or filtered lamps.
Color energy work A practitioner channels or visualizes specific colors over parts of the patient’s body.
Colored silks and fabrics Laying colored silk cloths over the chakras or wrapping the body in colored fabrics.
Solarized water Infusing water with colored light or immersing colored bottles in sunlight to structurally change the water, which is then ingested.
Colored eye lenses Wearing colored glasses or contacts to filter all vision through a specific color.
Color visualization Guiding patients through meditations that involve visualizing certain colors.
Color breathing Breathing exercises where patients visualize breathing in a specific color.
Color environment Surrounding patients with rooms painted in healing colors.

Practitioners may use a single technique or combine several color therapy modalities to achieve the desired results.

Color meanings in color medicine

In color medicine, colors are prescribed carefully based on their known psychological and physiological effects. Here is a closer look at the most common healing colors and their meanings:

Color Meaning and Healing Attributes
Red Physical energy, strength, stimulation, vitality, confidence. Good for circulation, energy level.
Orange Creativity, joy, socialness, enthusiasm. Uplifting and stress-relieving.
Yellow Mental clarity, optimism, intellect. Helps digestion and nerves.
Green Harmony, balance, refreshment, peace. Used for emotional trauma and pain.
Blue Calmness, relaxation, intuition, tranquility. Helps induce sleep.
Violet Spirituality, imagination, wisdom, tranquility.Provides a sense of magic.
Pink Gentleness, love, emotional healing. Calms aggression and eases emotional wounds.

Practitioners may also use white light to purify and harmonize all the body’s systems and energy fields.

What are the 7 chakras in color medicine?

The foundation of color medicine is the chakra system, which originated in ancient India. Chakras are energy centers located throughout the body that reflect emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health. Each of the 7 main chakras vibrates at its own color frequency. Healing is achieved by clearing, balancing, and aligning the chakras with their corresponding colors.

Chakra Location Color Frequency
Root Base of spine Red
Sacral Lower abdomen Orange
Solar plexus Upper abdomen Yellow
Heart Center of chest Green
Throat Throat Blue
Third eye Forehead Indigo
Crown Top of head Violet

When a chakra is balanced and spinning properly, it allows energy to flow freely through the body. Imbalanced chakras manifest as illness or negative moods. Color therapy seeks to rebalance the chakras using their signature colors.

What conditions is color medicine used for?

Color medicine is used as an adjunct treatment for both physical and mental health conditions, including:

  • Pain – Red light therapy is thought to decrease inflammation and relieve chronic joint and back pain.
  • Wounds – Blue light has been shown to have anti-bacterial effects and stimulate healing when applied to skin wounds and infections.
  • Cancer – Full spectrum bright light therapy may help balance hormones and strengthen the immune system in cancer patients following chemotherapy.
  • Depression – Daily exposure to green light was found to elevate mood in people with depression.
  • Sleep disorders – Blue light therapy has proven effective for people who have circadian rhythm disruptions.
  • Seasonal affective disorder – Light boxes emitting full spectrum light treat wintertime depression.
  • Eating disorders – Viewing certain colors like green during meals may decrease food cravings.

Practitioners may also recommend color medicine for stress, headaches, allergies, vision disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

Is there scientific evidence that color medicine works?

There is moderate scientific evidence that specific colors of light therapy have measurable therapeutic effects. Most research has focused on the applications of:

  • Blue light – Blue wavelengths have antibacterial properties. They’re effective at treating jaundice in newborns and skin conditions like acne. Blue light therapy improves circadian rhythms and sleep quality.
  • Red light – Red wavelengths applied to the skin increase blood flow, quicken healing, and reduce inflammation, chronic joint pain, and tissue damage.
  • Bright light – Bright white full spectrum light therapy relieves depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and circadian rhythm disorders.

Researchers have also found preliminary evidence that simply viewing certain colors like green and blue can have measurable effects on heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and brain activity, although the implications of this are still unclear.

However, there is still limited empirical research on the mechanisms and effects of many color medicine techniques. The overall efficacy remains unproven for many conditions and techniques.

Criticisms and risks of color medicine

Color medicine is not without skeptics and risks. Some of the main criticisms include:

  • Lack of regulation – There is no licensing or accredited training for color medicine practitioners.
  • Overreliance on anecdotal evidence – The benefits of many techniques are not scientifically verified.
  • Placebo effect – Patient improvement may be due to the placebo effect rather than the color therapy itself.
  • Not a substitute for conventional medicine – Color medicine should complement but not replace doctor-supervised treatments.
  • Light sensitivity – Bright light therapy can cause headaches, eyestrain, nausea in those sensitive to light.

To minimize risks, it’s important to work with an experienced color medicine practitioner who follows safety guidelines. People with conditions like epilepsy or light sensitivity may want to avoid bright light therapy.

Is color medicine right for me?

If you’re interested in exploring color medicine, first consult your physician or mental health provider to see if light and color therapies could be beneficial complementary treatments for your health goals and conditions.

Look for practitioners certified in chromotherapy by respected color therapy organizations. Be sure to ask practitioners about their training, safety protocols, and any risks. Start slowly with color medicine techniques under their guidance.

Color medicine should not replace primary medical treatment or psychotherapy. But as an adjunctive therapy, the relaxing, mood-boosting benefits of color may support wellness and healing.


The use of color for healing dates back centuries, although color medicine as formal therapy arose in the 1900s. Contemporary color medicine harnesses the psychological power of color along with light’s measurable biological effects. Well-studied forms like blue and red light therapy are now mainstream complementary treatments. But many color techniques still need more rigorous testing. When used safely under supervision, color medicine can be a helpful part of integrative medicine programs. But more research is needed to substantiate its mechanisms and applications.