What is ‘Chromotherapy’?
Chromotherapy is the use of colour to affect the physical and/or mental state of a person. It is also known as colourology, colour therapy and more recently by scientists photobiology (to strip it of its links with spiritualism and mysticism.) It differs from ‘Light Therapy’ which has been scientifically proven to counteract seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D)
It can relate to the use of colour in any form such as the colour cloths you choose to wear, imagining colour in your mind’s eye or even the colour foods you eat. In this case however, we use the term to refer to the use of coloured lighting to alter the physical condition and mind state of the user.
We all know and understand that colour can have an effect on our emotions. Red renowned for representing and heightening danger or anger whereas blue is a cooling and calming colour which also diminishes appetite. There has also been plenty of investigation and experimentation regarding the use of colour to alter the physical state as you can see below.
- In India, practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine believed that specific colours corresponded with each of the seven ‘chakras’ (Energies in the body that represent organs, emotions, and aspects of the soul)
- In the days of ancient Egypt, practitioners built solariums with specifically designed glasses and lenses that served to break up the sun's rays into the colours of the spectrum
- In the late 1800’s Dr. Edwin D. Babbitt and Dr. S. Pancoast conducted numerous experiments and Babbitt then went on to publish a book entitled ‘Principles of Light and Colour’ which outlines chromotherapy as we understand it today
- In the late 1940’s Russian researcher S.V. Krakov conducted a series of experiments to show how colour affects the nervous system. In his experiments, he observed that red light stimulated the adrenal glands, raising blood pressure and pulse rate, and that blue and white light had a calming, relaxing effect.
It is becoming more and more common to find mainstream researchers turning to chromatherapy for a variety of ailments as well, particularly sleep disorders. Colour is a property of light, which is made up of many different waves of energy. When light falls upon the photoreceptor cells of the retina, it is converted into electrical impulses.
These impulses travel to the brain and trigger the release of hormones. The release of these hormones in controlled bursts can be used to treat the body and mind for many of the medical conditions that hinder sleep as well as promote conditions that are conducive to sleep and rest.
While many forms of chromatherapy can and should only be practiced by licensed practitioners, some forms of colour therapy are simple and safe enough to be practiced in the comfort of your own home, such as the chromatherapy lights in many of our whirlpool baths and steam showers.
Critics of chromotherapy claim that it is a ‘pseudoscience’ which means that past experiments, claims and findings do not follow the correct conditions to be classified as 100% scientifically proven. They believe that there is too much room for false and invalid results. Selection Bias is also a criticism of chromotherapy, this is linked in with the placebo effect by which if you believe that it will affect you, it will.
Ayurvedic medicine describes the body as having seven main ‘chakras’, which are spiritual centres located along the spine that are associated with a colour, function and organ or bodily system. According to this explanation, these colours can become imbalanced and result in physical diseases but these imbalances can be corrected through using the appropriate colour as a treatment. The purported colours and their associations are described as:
|Colour||Chakra location||Alleged Function||Associated System|
|Red||Base of the spine||Grounding and Survival||Testes , kidneys, spine, sense of smell|
|Orange||Lower abdomen, genitals||Emotions, sexuality||Urinary tract, circulation, reproduction|
|Yellow||Solar plexus||Power, ego||stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas|
|Green||Heart||Love, sense of responsibility||Heart, lungs, thymus|
|Blue||Throat||Physical and spiritual communication||Throat, ears, mouth, hands|
|Indigo||Middle of forehead||Forgiveness, compassion, understanding||Eye, pineal glands|
|Violet||Crown of the head||Connection with universal energies, transmission of ideas and information||pituitary gland, the central nervous system and the cerebral cortex|