COLOUR THERAPY – DOES IT WORK?

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Light and colour have a profound effect on emotions and, some therapists believe, on our health too. Colour affects us all, since after all, it is part of our everyday life. Dictionaries mostly define the word ‘colour’ as the sensation resulting from stimulation of the retina of the eye by light waves of particular wavelengths. In fact, by using a glass prism, one can realise that all different levels of colour are actually derived from white light.

Light has a very strong effect on both our mind and body, and colour therapists maintain that it can actually be absorbed not only through the eyes, but also through the skin surface by way of our nerve endings. Too much or too little light can have a very definite effect on our physical and mental health. For example, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is brought about by lack of bright, unfiltered sunlight, whereas it is known that too much light can actually speed up the ageing process. Recent research has also put forth the theory that girls living in urban areas with high levels of street lighting actually start to menstruate at an earlier age than those who live in the country.

So, if light itself can affect our bodies, what about the individual colours that make up a shaft of sunlight? Science accepts that different colours have different physical effects on our bodies. Tests show that being exposed to red increases our body’s pulse and blood pressure for example, thereby making us feel more energised and aggressive. On the other hand, blue tends to relax the body as well as lower the pulse and blood pressure. This is why some interior designers use certain colour schemes in hospitals, psychiatric wards and prisons. This is also why in greenhouses, certain plants are also exposed to particular coloured lights.

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Colour also has a dramatic effect on our emotions. We are all familiar with the expressions ‘seeing red’, ‘feeling blue’, being ‘green with envy’, or ‘purple with rage’. Our choice about the colours we wear, our hair colour, and even our make up says a lot about the way we feel about ourselves. It is an unconscious indicator of our psyche. These colours also affect the way others perceive us.

Although there are seven colours in the rainbow, colour therapists work primarily with eight, adding in the colour magenta. These are usually referred to as the super eight. Some practitioners also include black, white, gold and silver.

What form does a treatment take? First of all, a colour therapist makes a diagnosis of the patient’s need. Colour cards are a way to do this, and have been used since the 1940s as an aid to interpreting personality disorders, as well as health problems. In 1985, the Colour Reflection Reading System, which uses shape as well as colour, was devised. In this system, each of the eight colours is given a corresponding shape; a red square, a blue diamond, an orange circle, and so on. The patient is asked to choose three shapes, and this gives the therapist certain insights into their personality and needs. Once these are known, the therapist can use various forms of colour treatments.

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The most traditional method is for white light to shine through a colour filter directly onto specific parts of the body. Sometimes the light is turned off and on in a rhythmical pattern as well. Another remedy, called Solarised Water, consists of pouring water into a coloured container which is then exposed to sunlight for about two hours. The patient is then asked to drink this water. Patients are also usually asked to change their diets, and are recommended certain particularly coloured foods. Green vegetables are believed to boost cell regeneration and cleanse the system, red peppers and chilies boost the circulation and energy levels, and orange foods like pumpkins and carrots increase the level of Vitamin A, which helps improve the skin.

Patients are also advised on choosing which colours to wear and use at home, in order to help improve their sense of well-being. Jet baths are also another popular therapy. These constitute of the use of baths especially fitted with coloured lights. By exposing the body to coloured light while in the water, the patient is said to absorb light frequencies more easily over the whole surface of the body.

Although I have never personally tried colour therapy, I find that the colours used to decorate a home for example, or those which adorn a sauna or pool, do have a very strong impact on my moods and emotions. Colour does, indeed, make a difference. Saying it can cure you from a malady might be stretching it too far. However, certain mysteries and issues are yet to be uncovered. Therefore, I find that I cannot rule this theory out altogether either.

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Do you have any experience with Colour Therapy? Let us know in the comment section below.