Do You Suffer with Migraines? Green Light Therapy May Help
Migraines are a debilitating condition that affect about 39 million Americans, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Typical treatment includes over the counter and prescription pain relievers. Some migraine sufferers have found some pain relief by making lifestyle changes such as cutting back on caffeine, losing some weight and practicing deep relaxation techniques. Recently, a new type of treatment has emerged for migraine sufferers – green light therapy.
Light therapy is probably best known for easing several types of depression and sleep disorders. Some researchers credit varying light colors with remedying different conditions. For instance, green light therapy -- defined as a band of green light emitting from a specific type of lamp -- is believed to ease pain associated with migraines and fibromyalgia by stimulating the visual cortex (the area of the brain that processes visual information) and altering the perception of pain. Green light is perceived as calming.
Using light to ease migraine pain may sound counterintuitive, as migraines often cause a sensitivity to light. In fact, it’s common for migraine sufferers to seek the solace of a dark room while dealing with a migraine. Despite this, green light therapy has continued gaining traction and has studies supporting its use. One such study found that green light therapy significantly reduced the number of headache days in people with chronic migraine, according to a study published in Cephalalgia.
Researchers from University of Arizona Health Services recruited 29 participants (7 with episodic migraines and 22 with chronic migraines). Participants were exposed to white light-emitting diodes for one and two hours each day for 10 weeks. This was followed by two-week washout period and then another 10 weeks of light therapy using green light. Researchers allowed patients to continue their current migraine therapies. Participants tracked the effects of the light therapy via patient-reported surveys. After combining the data from both groups, data showed:
- On average, there was a 60 percent decrease in the number of headache days per month.
- Most participants reported more than a 50 percent reduction in headaches per month.
No side effects were reported. Despite the great results, researchers were not able to determine if participants were able to reduce their medications.
Green light therapy lamp boxes are available online and in many retail stores. The price range for most units is between $40 and $250.
“This is a tiny study,” says Bernard Kaminetsky, MD, medical director, MDVIP. “So more research is needed before you accept the results as Gospel. However, I do think migraine sufferers should talk to their doctors about green light therapy, as it appears to be a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical approach to preventing and controlling migraines.”
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