The fourth in our iMRS review series explores another of the iMRS Prime’s add-on features, Colour Therapy. This is closely related to Brain Entrainment and available through the Exagon Brain accessory.
How to use colour in the iMRS Prime
When you start a session with the Exagon Brain goggles covering your eyes, the LED diodes inside start flashing and you may initially notice the colour they’re using. Then close your eyes and drift away, until the session finishes.
In Manual mode, the system gives you the option to choose any colour you want through blending red, green and blue. However, most people select a pre-configured package of colours, frequencies and PEMF intensities through one of the system’s seven Fast Start programs.
For example, to wind down at the end of a long day, many people choose the Regeneration program. In the program’s three phases, it has no red but varying amounts of green and blue.
First thing in the morning, most people would want a more stimulatory effect, but one geared to calm, motivation and focus. By choosing the Activation program they’ll only receive red and blue (plus the brainwave frequencies and intensities that best fit with that “wake me up” effect).
Before exercise or other performance in a physical or non-physical setting, there’s only one thing on their mind: maximising activity levels. So the Performance program has no blue, very little green and a lot of red.
In the rest of this article, by exploring the research and the many uses of colour therapy, I hope to validate it and explain how it adds value to our PEMF systems.
In case it sounds a bit flaky, let’s be clear: colour therapy is used in a huge range of commercial and therapeutic applications and recent research has documented its effects on people emotionally, cognitively and physiologically.
What is Colour Therapy?
Go online and you’ll find lots of information. Marketers, in particular, have understood its power for many decades in their branding and sales efforts.
While more research is definitely needed, colour therapy is quickly growing in popularity. Non-invasive and easy to apply, it has shown a wide range of benefits from improving anxiety and depression to reducing pain perception in chronic sufferers.
One unusual use was when a jail in Texas used pink for inmate uniforms and cell walls. While part of this may have been intentional humiliation, the Guardian newspaper reported that: (3):
“The sheriff said that the reoffending rate was down by 70% since he introduced the pink regime. He added that there have been no fights among inmates since the walls were painted pink.”
The History of Colour Therapy
The use of colour therapy dates back at least 2000 years to Ancient Greece and Egypt, when colour was considered to be entwined with health.
In AD 980, Persian polymath Avicenna believed that colour played a vital role in the treatment and diagnosis of disease. And in the late 19th Century, Edwin Babbitt published his book The Principles of Light and Colour, while Dr Seth Pancoast conducted experiments using blue and red light in the treatment of burns.
Since then, colour treatments have branched out in many directions and become increasingly popular, even in some areas of mainstream medicine.
How Colour Therapy Works
Our understanding of how colour works is still limited but it certainly affects both our physiology and psychology. The problem with past research has tended to be its focus on practical effects like greater productivity or calming effects, rather than the actual physiological or psychological mechanism itself.
According to an analysis published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine (1):
“Colours generate electrical impulses and magnetic currents or fields of energy that are prime activators of the biochemical and hormonal processes in the human body, the stimulants or sedatives necessary to balance the entire system and its organs.”
Our colour responses may also be evolutionary. Hill and Barton in a 2005 edition of Nature (4), noted that:
“Red colouration is a sexually selected, testosterone-dependent signal of male quality in a variety of animals, and in some non-human species a male’s dominance can be experimentally increased by attaching artificial red stimuli.”
They also postulated that red could be used to enhance athletic performance.
Light and wavelength have long been known to influence physiology. Blue light often gets mentioned for activating melanopsin photoreceptors in the brain which causes arousal. This is why experts talk about the blue light on smartphone and computer screens keeping people awake at night by reducing melatonin levels.
Colour Therapy in Mental Health
Specialist therapists often use colour in combination with other approaches such as brain entrainment and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Being non-invasive, and with no significant side effects, colour therapy has several potential advantages in healthcare settings.
There is some thought, for instance, that the use of red light helps reduce chronic pain and that blue has a calming influence that makes it an option for reducing anxiety and depression.
There is some anecdotal evidence that colour therapy combined with entrainment such as pulsed light can improve the perception of pain in cancer patients.
Aside from its use in some prisons, colour therapy has shown great promise in mental health facilities. Some recent research involving patients with schizophrenia (7) suggested that they:
“… should be encouraged to be more exposed to bright colours such as green and white, and less to dark colours such as black, during therapy and rehabilitation sessions.”
According to WHO, over 264 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression and there are around 800,000 cases of suicide each year. One out of six in the UK reports feeling significant levels of anxiety, often associated with work.
Some research has pointed to the potential of colours such as red and ruby in raising a person’s mood. In one study (11), it was noted:
“Ruby appears to be a therapeutic colour for depressive disorders, while red appears to have possibilities for improving individual factors such as anxiety or confusion. Future phototherapy studies using an experimental design with ruby and red might help to clarify the role of these colours in alleviating the symptoms of affective disorders.”
Blue light is often used to treat conditions such as seasonal affective disorder where people become more susceptible to depression during the winter months, and it has been shown to help with severe anxiety. Among the practical applications for colour therapy (12), in Japan, train companies have introduced blue light-emitting-diode lamps which have reduced the number of suicides jumping from station platforms.
According to a review in Frontiers in Psychology:
“There is considerable promise in research on colour and psychological functioning, but considerably more theoretical and empirical work needs to be done…”
Colour Therapy in Medical Care
1. Chronic Pain
Research points to the possibility that different colours change our perception of pain. In a study carried out in 2019 (9), participants were given pain stimuli in conjunction with exposure to different colour stimuli. The research found that “participants rated pain stimuli preceded by red as being more painful compared with pain stimuli preceded by other colours, especially green and blue.”
Another study in 2020 (10) found that colour can influence both auditory and somatosensory perception and may have a valuable role in helping deal with chronic pain and tinnitus.
Fibromyalgia is an often debilitating condition characterised by pain in the musculoskeletal system. A recent study by the University of Arizona (13) took 21 patients who suffered from the condition and exposed them to green light-emitting diodes for a few hours a day for 10 weeks. The patients reported less pain, felt their mood and sleep were improved and said they were able to undertake exercise and perform chores that they previously avoided.
3. Blood Pressure
A study in 2015 (14) found that exposing subjects to blue light lowered their blood pressure by a significant amount:
“There was a significant reduction in the breath rate during exposure to blue light and the diastolic blood pressure reduced immediately after exposure..”
Colour Therapy in the Workplace
There have been many articles written about the use of colour in the workplace for increasing productivity. Many businesses nowadays pay special attention not just to the layout of their offices but also the colour combinations used. Major corporations now spend millions of pounds to get the right look and feel to their places of work.
A study by the University of Texas (17) found that bland beige or white offices tended to induce feelings of despair in women while men felt similarly about orange or purple spaces. Colours with a slow wavelength such as green or blue, tend to have a more calming effect.
Marketing and Colour Therapy
A study by the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science (2) found that marketers have a deep understanding of how “to alter brand personality and purchase intent, and how colour influences the likability and familiarity of a brand .”
We have long known that colour is important in design, and many of us fret over room designs and choices in furniture or clothing. Business architects routinely base their designs on combinations that improve productivity or produce calm.
And marketers are probably the experts when it comes to using the best colours to get a response. Hundreds of hours of colour research often go into making major brand logos, product packaging and websites.
Learning and Colour Therapy
One of the most actively researched areas is the use of colour with teaching and learning, and the impact of specific colours on cognitive processes. According to a review in 2013 (15):
“There appears to be a basis for associating colour and its significant effect on memory abilities. In other words, colour has the potential to increase the chances of environmental stimuli being encoded, stored, and retrieved successfully.”
Other research has shown that memory for language learning is significantly improved if more colourful pages are used (16), with warmer colours producing the biggest impact.
Green is supposed to be good for concentration and orange lifts the mood in the classroom, while blue is associated with productivity.
Another field of therapy that runs in parallel with colour therapy is the use of different wavelengths of light to achieve purely physiological effects.
Coloured light therapy is regularly used in sporting circles to help athletes recover from injuries. LED red light phototherapy has been shown to improve blood circulation and reduce the time it takes players to get back to training again. According to one study (20):
“830 nm LED phototherapy significantly and safely reduced the RTP (Return to Play) in dedicated university athletes over a wide range of injuries with no adverse events.”
Various types of LED and Low Level Laser device form an area of Energy Medicine that I’ve been using therapeutically, for over 20 years. They don’t have quite the same range of effects as PEMF but can be extremely effective, depending on the issue you’re treating. It’s sometimes part of the protocol that I suggest to Life Mat customers.
Colour Therapy Combined with Brain Entrainment
Finally, colour therapy appears to have even greater potential when used in conjunction with other therapies. As deployed in the iMRS Prime system, one of these is brain entrainment where the frequency of brain waves can be influenced by an external stimulus such as a flashing light and/or binaural beats (the Prime uses both).
A review of more than 3,000 recent studies (18) into how colour and light therapy are currently used in treating bipolar disorder found:
“The main results were that depressive severity decreased after BLT, and that treatment effects were observed, with different light colour/colour temperatures, with different duration/time, with or without auxiliary measures, with different light intensities, and without psychotropic drugs.”
Light and sound entrainment and the use of different colours may also have an impact on the treatment of depression and anxiety. Another systematic review (19) found that the combination of the two was a non-invasive way to bring about altered mental states including lifting mood for patients who were suffering from an episode of depression.
1. Samina T. Yousuf Azeemi and S. Mohsin Raza A Critical Analysis of Chromotherapy and Its Scientific Evolution Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine 2005.
2. Lauren Labrecque and George Milne Exciting red and competent blue: The importance of colour in marketing Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 2011
3. Dan Glaister Pink prison makes Texan inmates blush Guardian 2006
4. R Hill and R Barton Psychology: red enhances human performance in contests Nature, 2005
5. Brian P. Meier & Michael D. Robinson The Metaphorical Representation of Affect Metaphor and Symbol, Volume 20, 2005
6. J Suresh Kumar The Psychology of Colour Influences Consumers’ Buying Behaviour – A Diagnostic Study Ushus-Journal of Business Management 2017
7. Baiping Tao and Shaofang Xu et al Personality trait correlates of color preference in schizophrenia Translational Neuroscience, 2015
8. Andrew J. Elliot Color and psychological functioning: a review of theoretical and empirical work Frontiers in Psychology, 2015
9. Karolina Wiercioch-Kuzianik, Przemysław Bąbel Color Hurts. The Effect of Color on Pain Perception Pain Medicine, 2019
10. Michael Landgrebe, Kewir Nyuyki et al Effects of colour exposure on auditory and somatosensory perception – hints for cross-modal plasticity Neuroendocrinology Letters, 2020
11. Beverly G. Dearing & Sangeeta Singg Photosensitive Assessment: A Study Of Color Preference, Depression And Temperament Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine, Vol. 7
12. Tetsuya Matsubayashi, Yasuyuki Sawada, Michiko Ueda Does the installation of blue lights on train platforms prevent suicide? A before-and-after observational study from Japan Journal of Affective Disorders, 2013
13. Laurent Martin, Frank Porreca et al Green Light Exposure Improves Pain and Quality of Life in Fibromyalgia Patients: A Preliminary One-Way Crossover Clinical Trial Pain Medicine, 2021
14. K V Naveen Psychophysiological effects of colored light used in healing W J Med Sci, 2006
15. Mariam Adawiah Dzulkifli and Muhammad Faiz Mustafar The Influence of Colour on Memory Performance: A Review Malaysian Journal of Medical Science, 2013
16. Jahangeer Kahn and Chengyu Liu The impact of colors on human memory in learning English collocations: evidence from south Asian tertiary ESL students Asian-Pacific Journal of Second and Foreign Language Education, 2020
17. Nancy Kwallek Work week productivity, visual complexity, and individual environmental sensitivity in three offices of different color interiors Color Research and Application, 2007
18. Shengjun Wang et al Bright light therapy in the treatment of patients with bipolar disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis PLoS One, 2020
19. Vernon Furtado da Silva, Alair Pedro Ribeiro Stimulation by Light and Sound: Therapeutics Effects in Humans. Systematic Review Clinical Practice and Epidemiology of Mental Health, 2015
20. John Foley, David B Vasily et al 830 nm light-emitting diode (led) phototherapy significantly reduced return-to-play in injured university athletes: a pilot study Laser Therapy 2016