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Monday 26th August 2019

Coloured light sparks new treatments

8th January 2013

Researchers around the world are investigating the use of coloured light to treat various health problems.


The therapy is now being tried out for conditions including skin problems, back pain and insomnia.

Different wavelengths of light, which translate visually into different colours, have different uses.

Red light can help with the healing of wounds, because it can penetrate into tissue, while green lasers are being trialed in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and insomnia.

According to Bav Shergill of the British Association of Dermatologists, the light treatments of the past tended not to discriminate between frequencies on the visible spectrum.

But specific wavelengths are now being used to provide a non-invasive treatment for a number of conditions, he said.

The light can be delivered via lasers, lamps, and LEDs (light-emitting diodes).

Blue light is being used in Germany by researchers at Heidelberg University to treat back pain, delivered via LED patches.

It is believed to stimulate the body to produce nitric oxide, a natural painkiller and anti-inflammatory compound.

Doctors in Massachusetts are shining blue light into their patients' stomachs to treat Helicobacter pylori, reducing it by up to 99%.

Researchers in Japan have found it useful for killing the bacteria that are present in gum disease, while at the University of Missouri, researchers are testing it to treat acne.

Burns patients treated daily with red light in Shanghai's Jiaotong University were found to heal faster than those without it, while in Jerusalem, doctors are using it to treat a pre-malignant skin condition called actinic keratosis.

All patients given the treatment in a trial at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical School improved after just one session, and doctors believe this may be because the red light tackles inflammation and activates the immune system.

Older people exposed to orange light every night for half an hour have better balance, according to a team at Stanford University, while yellow light is used to dissipate spider veins, birthmarks, red marks on the skin and sunburn.

This is probably because the yellow light is absorbed by haemoglobin within the red area.

Researchers in California used green lasers to thin patients' blood, and in surgery for benign prostate disease, and have even been used to melt away body fat.

Green lasers may also reset the body clock, helping people with insomnia and seasonal depression.

And ultraviolet light therapy is being used in the treatment of psoriasis and eczema, as well as to reduce the size of the white patches of vitiligo, a skin pigment disorder.

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