What Is Color Therapy? This Traditional Treatment Has Some Fairly Modern Benefits

From copper-infused blankets that claim to fight bacteria to sensory-deprivation tanks for anxiety relief, there are a lot of out-there wellness treatments, well, out there. One traditional treatment has been getting a lot of attention as of late for how easily you can add it into your life: Color therapy, also called chromotherapy. It may sound new-agey, but the simple system of using different colored lights to effect subtle changes in your mood has been practiced for centuries, and it's attracting more and more attention from people who want to see if the grass really is greener.

First thing's first: No one is saying that hanging out under some colored lights can cure physical ailments. What science-backed research that *is* out there is fairly limited in scope, but it does prove promising. WebMD reported that LED green-light therapy has been found to help people suffering from migraines — in fact, it reportedly worked so well that the trial participants refused to return the lights after the trial ended, so researchers let them keep them. Mark me down for putting this on my list of migraine remedies to try. The theory is that just like plants, humans have a chemical reaction when they are exposed to different kinds of light — kind of like how light therapy can also be beneficial to people with seasonal affective disorder.

"Natural light is composed of all the colors. As imbalances occur in our bodies — often from stress and other lifestyle choices — our cells develop the need for exposure to specific colors to help regain balanced function," the website My Light Therapy wrote. According to subscribers to color therapy, each color of the rainbow has a specific function and area of the body it helps balance, and is also associated with a specific chakra. Think about it like this: decorating experts have been advising you to paint your bedroom calming colors for better sleep for years, so why wouldn't the same principle apply for lights?

So, how does each color light work? Red light is reportedly used to energize, according to My Light Therapy, and it's good for your heart, lungs, bones, and muscles. Color therapy expert Walaa Al Muhaiteeba told Well + Good that it's also the color of "unlimited vitality." Orange is primarily used to induce feelings of enthusiasm, creativity, and courage, and it's also been associated with higher sex drive. Yellow light, symbolizing the sun, promotes joy and wakefulness. "It’s another good color to start the day off with as it helps to wake you up,” color therapy expert Arden Reece from Four Moons Spa explained to Well + Good. Green, meanwhile, is detoxifying and calming, and can be helpful for chronic conditions (like migraines). It also inspires feelings of contentment. Blue is known for its antibacterial properties, as well as for promoting feelings of affection, calm and harmony, according to My Light Therapy, and Reece says "This is a great color to decompress with as it’s restful and sedate."

If you're interested in experiencing the effects of color therapy for yourself, one company has a pretty easy way to build it into your morning: a color-changing showerhead. One such product featured on Bulb Wizards describes itself as, "a color therapy multi-color health and healing light ... designed to simply screw into your existing shower, sauna, or steam room light fixture. There are seven solid colors and one color changing mode that will slowly change from one color to the next." Another product, the Bathology Spectrum 210, claims it "delivers mood-setting ambiance and visual clarity" to your shower, according to a product description on Steam Sauna Bath. If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, resetting your mind, body, and spirit might be as easy as taking a shower with LED lights.

Again, the science of color therapy is cagey at best, but if it's something that you feel good practicing, there's certainly no reason not to.