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Table of Contents > Alternative Modalities > Color therapy Print

Color therapy


Related terms

Related Terms
  • Acu-light, acu-light therapy, chromopressure, chromotherapy, color theory, colored filters, colored light therapy, colored overlays, colorpuncture, Dinshah Ghadiali, holographic memory resolution, light-color therapy, Luscher Color TestT, ocular light therapy, Peter Mandel's Esogetic Colorpuncture Therapy (ECT)T, photochromotherapy.
  • Not included in this review: Light therapy (phototherapy or conventional ultraviolet light phototherapy) 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.

  • Color therapy uses colors for their proposed healing abilities to treat emotional and physical disturbances. Changing the colors of clothes or home or office décor or visualizing different colors may be recommended. Color therapy is based on the idea 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 TestT is said to indicate mood and personality. Silks colored with natural dyes, solarized water, color cards, or a light box or lamp with colored filters may be included as part of treatment. In addition, meditation and breathing exercises may be performed during color therapy.
  • Ocular light therapy, which projects light through colored filters and into the eyes, is sometimes used in people with psychological disorders. Colored light therapy, colorpuncture, and chromopressure are newer 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.

  • In the early 20th Century, Dinshah Ghadiali, MD, PhD, used a system of color therapy to irradiate acupuncture points with colored light. Some early research done in Russia indicates that light may be conducted within the body along the acupuncture meridians.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *

In humans, color therapy has been studied as a possible way to lower blood pressure. Further research is needed before a recommendation can be made.


Studies have tested the use of integrative therapies, including color therapy, during the neonatal period. Additional study is warranted.


Early research found that light-color stimulation improved cardiovascular symptoms in patients with glomerular nephritis, an inflammation of the kidney. More research is needed in this area.


There is early research suggesting that color therapy may help relieve hand, elbow, or lower back pain. Further study is needed before a clear conclusion can be drawn.

* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)

Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Academic performance, aggressive behavior, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bronchitis, chronic illness (coping with the monotony of chronic disease hospitals) cognitive enhancement, dyslexia (and other reading disabilities), enhanced athletic performance, epilepsy, fatigue, hyperpigmentation, increased strength, inflammatory dermatoses (a skin condition), insomnia, learning disabilities, lung cancer, metabolic disorders (enzyme stimulation), migraine, muscle relaxation, nerve pain (due to lack of blood flow), neuroprotective, prison reform, seasonal affective disorder, sedation, stress, tension, uterine fibroids, vision problems, well-being.


Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

  • Color therapy appears to be well tolerated in most individuals, although safety has not been thoroughly tested. Exposure to bright light may cause eye injury, such as retinopathy. Strobe lights may cause seizures in susceptible individuals.
  • There is not enough evidence to support the safety of color therapy during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

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  2. Barber CF. The use of music and colour theory as a behaviour modifier. Br J Nurs 1999;8(7):443-448.
  3. Cocilovo A. Colored light therapy: overview of its history, theory, recent developments and clinical applications combined with acupuncture. Am J Acupunct 1999;27(1-2):71-83.
  4. Deppe A. Ocular light therapy: a case study. Aust J Holist Nurs 2000;7(1):41.
  5. Ebbesen F, Agati G, Pratesi R. Phototherapy with turquoise versus blue light. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2003 Sep;88(5):F430-1. PMID: 12937051
  6. Ebbesen F, Madsen P, Stovring S, et al. Therapeutic effect of turquoise versus blue light with equal irradiance in preterm infants with jaundice. Acta Paediatr. 2007 Jun;96(6):837-41.
  7. Evans BJ, Patel R, Wilkins AJ, et al. A review of the management of 323 consecutive patients seen in a specific learning difficulties clinic. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 1999 Nov;19(6):454-66.
  8. Jones JE, Kassity N. Varieties of alternative experience: complementary care in the neonatal intensive care unit. Clin Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Dec;44(4):750-68.
  9. Maher CG. Effective physical treatment of chronic low back pain. Orthop Clin North Am 2004;Jan, 35(1):57-64.
  10. 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.
  11. West RW, Penisten DK. The effect of color on light-induced seizures: a case report. Optom Vis Sci. 1996 Feb;73(2):109-13.
  12. Wileman SM, Eagles JM, Andrew JE, et al. Light therapy for seasonal affective disorder in primary care: randomized controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry. 2001 Apr;178:311-6.
  13. 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.
  14. Wolffsohn JS, Dinardo C, Vingrys AJ. Benefit of coloured lenses for age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2002 Jul;22(4):300-11.
  15. Zifkin BG, Inoue Y. Visual reflex seizures induced by complex stimuli. Epilepsia. 2004;45 Suppl 1:27-9.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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