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Color therapy is based on the fact that physiologic functions respond to specific colors.
The next time you’re at a fast food restaurant look around at the decor. The colors are bright, cheery and fun. Do you think the designers picked those colors just so you would be “happy” while you were there? Think again! Not that they don’t want you happy, but bright colors such as red, orange and yellow have been proven to stimulate the nervous system and increase your appetite. This idea is associated with an ages-old principle called “color therapy”.
Color therapy is based on the fact that physiologic functions respond to specific colors. Exactly how does this happen? Attached to the brain are pineal glands, which control the daily rhythms of life. When light enters through the eyes (or the skin) it travels neurological pathways to these pineal glands. Different colors give off different wavelength frequencies and these different frequencies have different effects on physical and psychological functions. The example given above with yellow, red and orange in the fast food restaurant is just one way this principle works.
Before looking further into more examples of how color therapy has been put into practice, let’s look at specific colors and their proven effects.
Black: self-confidence, power, strength
Blue: calming, lowers blood pressure, decreases respiration
Green: soothing, relaxing mentally as well as physically, helps those suffering from depression, anxiety, nervousness
Violet: suppresses appetite, provides a peaceful environment, good for migraines
Pink: used in diet therapy as an appetite suppressant, relaxes muscles, relieves tension, soothing
Yellow: energizes, relieves depression, improves memory, stimulates appetite
Orange: energizes, stimulates appetite and digestive system
Red: stimulates brain wave activity, increases heart rate, respirations and blood pressure, excites sexual glands
Color therapy can be practiced either with colored light or color pigments such as paints or swatches.
Using colored light for therapy has been in practice a very long time and we see it happening every day, whether we realize it or not. Research was also done to test the effects of colored light on muscles. When subjects were using a hand grip and exposed to blue light, their grip lightened, while other tests have shown that when muscles were exposed to red light the electrical activity in them increased.
Exposing the body to colored light is also believed to aid in healing. Green light is believed to help heart problems and cancer, while blue is used to treat ulcer pain, inflammatory disorders and back problems. Red helps treat skin problems, bladder infections and anemia while orange works on allergies and constipation. Yellow light can also heal muscle cramps, hypoglycemia and gall stones.
Color therapy can also be incorporated by using paints or simple blocks of color. Back to blue and its calming effects, studies have shown that when disruptive children were placed in blue classrooms, their aggression subsided dramatically. An even more interesting report stated that when officials in England switched the color of bridges in London from black to blue, the rate of suicide at the Blackfriar Bridge decreased by 34%.
Pink is another color that has had proven remarkable results. As part of a weight control program at Johns Hopkins Medical University in Baltimore, patients are given a color square called “bubble gum pink,” which has shown to suppress appetite and stress related snacking. This same color has reduced the violent tendencies of prisoners as well as having calmed excitable mental patients.
So, if we want to experiment with color therapy on a private basis do we need to carry color swatches around with us? Not necessarily. Practicing color therapy can be as simple as choosing the color clothing you’ll wear to what color you paint your bathroom.
If you have a busy day coming up and you need to feel energized, wear orange. If you desire to give off an air of power and strength, wear black. On the other hand, some say that if you are uncoordinated DON’T wear red.
Since yellow helps improve memory, try studying by writing your notes on a yellow legal pad. If you desire total relaxation at the end of a long day and take a long soak in the tub, paint your bathroom green.
So you see, there are many different ways to experiment with how color affects you. But if you tend to get the “between meal munchies”, you might want to carry around that swatch of bubble gum pink.