Various forms of light therapy have been in use for thousands of years.
Documents have been found that show light therapy being used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
Fast forward to today and modern technology where you will find that modern light therapy treatments have become extremely precise.
Medical experts can now control the wavelength of the light and use it to treat skin conditions, relieve pain, and help to remedy hair loss.
Egypt, Greece, and Rome are not the only civilizations to have used light therapy. Light therapy also features heavily in ancient Chinese medicine.
According to some medicine practitioners, green light therapy is a common form of treatment for venous ulcers.
Basics Of Light And Wavelengths
Each individual color in the visible light spectrum has its own wavelength (3). Colors such as red, yellow, and orange are considered to be warm, colors like blues and indigos are said to be cooler.
Green light is also known to be a member of the cooler color range. The wavelengths of colors range from the shortest and run to the longest in this order, violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red.
By the same token, UV light which is not visible has a significantly shorter wavelength than visible violet light. Infrared light has a much longer wavelength than visible red light.
An Introduction To Light Therapy
Light therapy in and of itself is a relatively low stress and simple procedure in which light is projected at a specific wavelength to the area of skin to be treated. The chosen color of light creates a series of chemical reactions to occur. These reactions cause the cells in the target area to become excited and increase in performance.
The results of this form of treatment range from improved acne to hair regrowth and more. The most important aspect of light therapy, where it is used and what it is used for is based solely on the color of light chosen. This is because the different colors of light (variations in wavelength) are known to produce a different chemical reaction with your body’s cells (4).
Green Light For Your Skin
Green light falls between 515 nm and 520 nm in the spectrum making it one of the cooler colors of light. One of the most common uses of green light therapy is as a skin treatment and as an anti-aging treatment.
One of the more common uses for green light skin therapy is to help improve skin pigmentation damage that has occurred as a direct result of overexposure to the sun’s UV rays.
Green light is also known to help reduce the appearance of sun spots, age spots, freckles, liver spots, and reddish or brown patches. While these are the most common forms of skin discoloration, green light can also help with several other types of hyperpigmentation and melanin problems that are a direct result of aging. Treatment can help lighten the areas of skin affected by these conditions.
The green light has a direct effect on melanocytes, which are the cells directly responsible for the production of melanin (5). Melanin is the pigmentation located in the lower layer of your epidermis (skin).
By applying green light therapy, the production of melanocytes is slowed down and over the course of time, many of the different types of spots and discolorations will fade away leaving you with skin that looks younger, healthier, and has a much more beautiful complexion.
Green Light for Chronic Pain
In a recent study published in the medical journal Pain entitled “Long-lasting Antinociceptive Effects of Green Light in Acute and Chronic Pain in Rats”, the green light was found to offer a unique and non-drug treatment strategy to assist in managing pain (6).
This has very important ramifications for those who suffer from fibromyalgia, which is a chronic pain condition that affects millions of people around the world (7).
The best way to describe chronic pain is a pain that lasts for longer than three consecutive months or lasts far past what most consider normal wound healing time. Chronic pain can be caused by an injury, an underlying medical condition or disease, inflammation, medical treatment, or an unknown condition (8).
No one truly knows how many people spend large portions of their lives suffering from chronic pain, but the CDC estimates that approximately 14.6 percent of all adults living in the U.S. suffer from localized or widespread pain that lasts for longer than three months.
A Current Study
The study conducted by Mohab Ibrahim and his team used green light therapy to examine its effects on a large group of rats suffering from neuropathic pain. During the study, one group of rats underwent therapy using green LED lights (525 nm wavelength) for 8 hours a day.
Another group of rats wore contact lenses that let the green light pass through. Both groups showed a reduction in the amount of pain. A third group was wearing contact lenses that blocked the green light and showed no signs of improvement from the green light.
Due to the success of this test, research is now ongoing with a group of patients whose diagnosis is fibromyalgia or chronic pain. The patients received a green LED light to use in a dark room for 1 to 2 hours each night for a total of ten weeks.
The study conducted at the University of Arizona to date, has shown very positive results. In fact, the green light therapy worked so well that at least two of those involved in the study refuse to return them once the study is complete (8).
While no one is ready to say exactly why green light therapy offers such pain relief, Rajesh Khanna who is one of the associates working on the study and is an UA Associate Professor of Pharmacology has this to say,” Early studies show that green light is increasing the levels of circulating endogenous opioids, which may explain the pain-relieving effects. Whether this will be observed in humans is not yet known and needs further work.”
One bit of good news to come out of this study is that using green light therapy to help relieve the chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia, is that it seems to work just as well for women as it does for men. Khanna states that “There’s no lesser efficacy in females, and that’s exciting because some medications will have some pain relief and that may be further stratified based on gender.”
This research and its accompanying results are vital as there is a great need for non-drug methods of treatment for those millions of people who suffer from chronic pain. This represents a major breakthrough in pain treatment and one that is very inexpensive and could be used anywhere in the world.
Green Light Therapy For Migraines
Anyone who suffers from migraines knows just how painful photosensitivity can be. There are times when even the smallest amount of light can cause excruciating pain. Most migraine suffers tend to spend countless hours sitting in the dark waiting for the pain to pass. A new study conducted by Rami Burstein, PhD, Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine and Academic Director of the Comprehensive Headache Center at BIDM and John Hedley-Whyte Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School (HMS) looked at the effectiveness of green light therapy on migraine symptoms (9).
The study found that not only did exposure to low-level green light therapy caused significantly less pain during a migraine, but that it also helped to reduce the pain felt by up to 20 percent in some of the patients involved in the test. While tests are still ongoing, the results of this one offer hope to those who suffer from these debilitating headaches.
Is Green Light Therapy Safe?
Light therapy using light in the visible spectrum is relatively safe according to the studies done thus far. In fact, there are no side effects of exposure to green light in any of the tests completed to date. The only real side effect, if you can call it one, has been the relief of pain and the reduction of dark spots on the skin.
Giving Green Light Therapy the Go Signal
While current usage of green light therapy is still undergoing a number of clinical trials, this type of therapy has been found to be highly successful in the treatment of aging skin, chronic pain, sleep disorders, and more.
The best part of this type of treatment is that even if it does not seem to help, it has so far not been found to cause any harm.