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Complementary & Alternative Medicine
Index Of Alternative Therapies And Modalities
When deciding to begin a complementary therapy or to see a complementary practitioner, first speak with your primary health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.
Color therapy uses colors for their proposed healing abilities in treating emotional and physical disturbances. Changing the colors of clothes or home or office dιcor or visualizing different colors may be recommended. Color therapy is based on the premise that different colors evoke different responses in people. For example, some colors are considered to be stimulating, whereas others may be soothing. Some color therapists assert that they can read and alter the colors of people's auras. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, different colors are associated with different chakras, or energy centers.
Color, light or phototherapy using single or mixed colors, sometimes from a laser, may be shined on the whole body or on particular chakras. The Luscher Color Test is said to indicate mood and personality. Silks colored with natural dyes, meditation and breathing exercises may be used. Solarized water, color cards or a light box or lamp with colored filters is sometimes included as a part of treatment. Ocular Light Therapy, in which light is projected through colored filters into the eyes, is sometimes used in people with psychological disorders. Colored light therapy, Colorpuncture and Chromopressure are emerging techniques.
Scientific evidence is lacking for color therapy. Although color therapy has been suggested for many conditions and it has been used in some hospitals, its safety and effectiveness have not been thoroughly studied. Color therapy is different from conventional ultraviolet light phototherapy, which is used to treat high bilirubin blood levels in infants and skin disorders such as acne or psoriasis. Light therapy is used to treat seasonal affective disorder.
Scientists have studied color therapy for the following health problems:
Glomerular nephritis (kidney inflammation)
One study found that light-color stimulation improved cardiovascular symptoms in patients with glomerular nephritis. More research is needed in this area.
High blood pressure
A clinical study used color therapy to affect high blood pressure. Further research is needed before a recommendation can be made.
Infant development/neonatal care
One review researched alternative therapies used in neonatals, including color therapy.
There is preliminary research suggesting that color therapy may be helpful in the relief of hand, elbow, or lower back pain. Further study is needed before a clear conclusion can be drawn.
Color therapy has been suggested for many uses, based on tradition or on scientific theories. However, these uses have not been thoroughly studied in humans, and there is limited scientific evidence about safety or effectiveness. Some of these suggested uses are for conditions that are potentially life-threatening. Consult with a health care provider before using color therapy for any use.
|Aggressive or hostile behavior|
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
Dyslexia and other reading disabilities
Enhanced athletic performance
Environmental monotony in chronic disease hospitals
Improved academic performance and IQ
Low blood pressure
Seasonal affective disorder
Color therapy appears to be well tolerated in most individuals, although safety has not been thoroughly tested in scientific studies. Exposure to bright light can cause eye injury. Strobe lights may cause seizures in susceptible individuals.
Color therapy has been suggested for many conditions, but safety and effectiveness have not been thoroughly studied scientifically. Speak with your health care provider if you are considering color therapy.
The information in this monograph was prepared by the professional staff at Natural Standard, based on thorough systematic review of scientific evidence. The material was reviewed by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School with final editing approved by Natural Standard.
- Natural Standard: An organization that produces scientifically based reviews of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) topics
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): A division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services dedicated to research
Selected Scientific Studies: Color Therapy
Natural Standard has reviewed all of the currently available medical literature to prepare the professional monograph from which this version was created.
Some of the more recent studies are listed below:
- Deppe A. Ocular light therapy: a case study. Aust J Holist Nurs 2000;7(1):41.
- Geldschlager S. Osteopathic versus orthopedic treatments for chronic epicondylopathia humeri radialis: a randomized controlled trial. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd 2004;Apr, 11(2):93-97.
- Maher CG. Effective physical treatment of chronic low back pain. Orthop Clin North Am 2004;Jan, 35(1):57-64.
- Natural Standard Research Collaboration, Chief Editors: Ulbricht C, Basch E, Natural Standard Herb and Supplement Reference: Evidence-Based Clinical Reviews, USA. Elsevier/Mosby, 2005.
- Ohara M, Kawashima Y, Kitajima s, et al. Inhibition Of lung metastasis of B16 melanoma cells exposed to blue light in mice. Int J Molecular Medicine 2002;10(6):701-705.
- Wileman SM, Eagles JM, Andrew JE, et al. Light therapy for seasonal affective disorder in primary care: randomised controlled trial. Br J Psych 2001;178:311-316.
- Wohlfarth H, Schultz A. The effect of colour psychodynamic environment modification on sound levels in elementary schools. Int J Biosocial Res 2002;(5):12-19.
- Zifkin BG, Inoue Y. Visual reflex seizures induced by complex stimuli. Epilepsia 2004;45(Suppl 1):27-29.
Last updated April 30, 2008
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